2021 Accomplishments & 2022 Plans

The year 2021 was yet another banner year for the Electronic Literature Lab. Working remotely during the pandemic via Slack, Basecamp, and Zoom, the ELL Team undertook and completed many projects. Here is the list:

  • Led the creation of The NEXT, moving from the prototype built on the Samvera platform into Semantic Markup and ARIA, and enhancing the content by adding several new collections, hosting three exhibitions, and adding over 5000 images and 50 videos.
  • Led the reconstruction of Richard Holeton’s hypertext novel Figurski at Findhorn on Acid, published originally in 2001 on the Storyspace platform, into open web languages.
  • Led the reconstruction of Thomas M. Disch’s interactive novel Amnesia, published originally in 1986 by Electronic Arts, into open web languages.
  • Preserved over 700 works of Flash art and writing held at The NEXT.
  • Hosted a one-day symposium for Women’s History Month on the topic of Women and E-Lit, which was attended by over 80 people from around the world.
  • Curated two exhibitions, “afterflash” and “Horizon Insight.”

Plans for 2022 include (thus far at least):

  • A launch party for the radio performance of Holeton’s Figurski at Findhorn on Acid created by Reimagined Radio.
  • Reconstructing Sarah Smith’s hypertext novel, King of Space, published originally in 1991 on the Hypergate platform, and into open web languages.
  • Reconstructing Stuart Moulthrop’s hypertext novel, Victory Garden, published originally in 1992 on the Storyspace platform, and into open web languages.
  • Developing the interactive book on the Scalar platform that will accompany Grigar and Pisarski’s print book for Cambridge University Press.
  • Adding numerous collections to The NEXT, including 1) the Computing Literature series of eight scholarly books, 2) the Museum of the Essential and Beyond That created by Brazilian artist Regina Pinto 3) the works of Peruvian artist José Aburto, 4) works by American artist Alan Sondheim, 5) works by Belgium artist Reiner Strasser, 6) works by American artist Stuart Moulthrop, 7) the New River Journal, and 8) the ELO’s archives.
  • A workshop aimed at leading the documentation of women e-lit artists in ELMCIP and the ELD during Women’s History Month.

Besides the fact that these projects contribute to the cultural history of the field, they also break new ground. In terms of our work with The NEXT, we innovated the way interactive, multimedia art and writing are organized for access by developing a new metadata schema, called ELMS, that extends the more general way digital objects are handled by a framework, MODS. Moreover, we laid the groundwork for making these works accessible to people with disabilities. In terms of the reconstruction and preservation projects, we innovated an aesthetic that allows people to experience Holeton’s and Disch’s works both in their original and an updated 21st century presentations, thinking through their migration to open web languages as a form of media translation. Both of these contributions are part of the data collection for the book I am co-authoring with Mariusz Pisarski. In essence, the production we do sits at the heart of the research output of the lab. Anyone not seeing this connection is missing the point of the lab.

None of this work could have been achieved without our amazing ELL Team. Last winter we were fortunate to bring in Richard Snyder, a PhD candidate in English, as Assistant Director of the lab. Additionally we added spring 2021 graduates Joel Clapp, Ruth Woodcock, Betsy Hanrahan, Sarah West, and Dave Sabrowski, and fall 2021 graduates Ariel Wallace, Andrew Thompson, Arlo Ptolemy, Sierra O’Neal, Ahria Nicholas, and Hogan Coverdale, from the Creative Media & Digital Culture program to take on everything from image production, Flash preservation, game refining, animation development and programming. And of course still with us are CMDC alums Holly Slocum and Greg Philbrook, who with Richard, keep the engine running smoothly and great care. 

Dene Grigar is Director and Professor of the CMDC Program. She specializes in electronic literature, emerging technologies and cognition, and ephemera.