Thursday, November 20, 2008

Florian's moment of revelation

Florian at Ars Electronica 2007.

Note, visit Ars Electronica 2007 for more info. about Florian winning the Prix Ars prize for theory.

I was still a student in 1995, in Comparative Literature, and there was a conference in Berlin. It wasn't really a conference so much as a public culture event, and it was called Soft-Moderna --soft modernism and basically it was organized by people from the American Studies program from the John F. Kennedy Institute in Berlin, and it imported the whole Brown University Hyperfiction discourse. So it was about literature and the internet and computing, but heavily based in the whole hypertext-hyperfiction paradigm. And bringing together Robert Coover for example and some German people who were doing early experiments in that field. And you could see the whole helplessness of people there, and they also operated in the new media paradigm so they asked a couple of media journalists and media studies people to be on this panel and discuss this whole thing. And you could see this complete helplessness. And I was just this young student and I just stood up and asked critical questions. I didn't talk so long, maybe two minutes or so, but I was really critical of what they had said. And then basically the organizer of the conference said well, you seem to know more about that stuff than the people we had on the panel, so do you want to be in the next conference? So that was actually my first public lecture and I was on a panel with Friedrich Kittler (!) and Andy Müller-Maguhn the spokesperson from the chaos computer club. And from there I got writing commissions and I gut sucked into this whole field.

This is a short one, but next time I'll be covering what Florian likes about the field, his concerns about the art being produced, and his own role.

I'm interested though to learn how closely connected new media and hyperfiction were early on and how hyperfiction/text was really one of the basic paradigms because today in the US, hyperfiction seems like a narrow genre that a few people are really getting into, like Nick Montfort, but at least on the conference circuit it seems to have lost it's place as being so basic, being something everyone knew about and discussed.

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