October 30, 2006

Snapshots from Autostart

by Nick Montfort · , 12:24 am


Our featured readers ready for the discussion after the reading: Stuart Moulthrop, Aya Karpinska, Aaron Reed, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, and Mary Flanagan. The piece “Talking Cure,” by Noah and others, was the last one presented and can be seen on the flat panel in the upper left.


Setting up for the reading in the Kelly Writers House Arts Cafe: The Collection’s main page is on the screen to the left; Charles Bernstein can be seen on the right.


After the reading, Bob Perelman (center right) asks the presenters a question about the relationship, or split, between form and language in the work that was shown.


7/12 of Grand Text Auto. The three of us visible here as persons had 64k worth of Scott Rettberg stored in the C64 for use during the Electronic Writing Jam on Friday.

The photos are all thanks to Jason Scott, who has these and others up at textfiles.com.

6 Responses to “Snapshots from Autostart”


  1. scott Says:

    Ron Silliman provides a mixed review of Autostart on his blog. Silliman makes some interesting observations about the current nascent state of e-lit — such as that he felt as if he were at printer’s conference in 1455. Yet I wonder about the validity of his “Blake test.” He asserts that his measure of a poem that will stand the test of time is whether or not the work is platform independent, so that the greatness of the work shines through even when decontextualized from its original media. While this test may work for most (though certainly not all) print poetry, applying this test to electronic poetry seems somewhat misguided. For much electronic poetry, this would be more like judging a graphic novel by its text alone, or judging a painting by a xerox of a photo of it from an art history textbook. The interface, programming, and visual elements are every bit as much a part of the poem as are the words. He’s correct that this platform-dependence poses great archiving challenges, but I think it would be wrong to use the Blake test as a qualitative measure of a given work’s worth.

  2. BKS Says:

    Yes, I agree. I don’t think Clarke’s screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey would last were the movie to disappear. But I’ve shot my load, so to speak, about the Blake test elsewhere.

  3. nick Says:

    I suspect that elsewhere is in Brian’s excellent essay “Privileging Language: The Text in Electronic Writing” in ebr.

  4. noah Says:

    Also worth checking out, in this regard, are two of Brian’s blog posts: I’ve failed the Blake test! and Postscript: The Blake Test.

    I certainly agree that the “Blake test” seems rather odd when talking about software. It’s like asking if the Tetris blocks would survive as images without their accompanying game mechanics.

  5. nick Says:

    Noah, thanks for pointing out those more direct rejoinders.

    The Blake test seems very interesting as a challenge to oneself – can I create a work that maintains its power when transcribed and re-presented in different media, partially and in degraded ways? It’s provocative, and leads to some of the questions that Brian discussed in ebr. But this doesn’t seem like a useful criterion for all digital work, or all multi-media work. I think it is best used to point to a particularly remarkable subset, not to rule out out works that have essential textual and essential visual aspects, or works that have essential textual and essential computational aspects.

  6. Time-Lapse Interactive Fiction - Taking Inventory Says:

    [...] various events and news that might be of interest to me and the documentary. One of these was a reading of interactive fiction given at the school he was finishing up his Ph.D in, entitled “Autostart” (or [...]

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