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Workshop Index Page | LUX, in frAme4 | NEXT:[N]ex(i)t [trAce's My Millennium] | Lolli's Apartment [Riding the Meridian] | Jilt; a romance [BeeHive] | Hypersensual Textility and Poly-Vocal Narration [Riding the Meridian (progressive dinner party)] | REASONED METAGORIA in frAme3, plus DELIVERY MACHINE 01: Aphoristic Play on Hypermediation and A MACHICOLATED BODY | BeeHive | Talan's website

Log of trAce Weekly Online Meeting, trAce Chat Room
Sunday 26 Mar 2000

Session Start: Sun Mar 26 21:02:35 2000

Pauline Masurel (Maz), Helen Whitehead, Margaret Penfold, Loki93c, Alan McDonald, Elizabeth James (elizabeth) and Talan Memmott (talanM) have joined #trace

<Helen_Whitehead> Welcome, Talan Memmott, editor, artist, writer, web designer... what else?
<talanM> enough hats I guess...
<Helen_Whitehead> Shall we start at the beginning? Your babyhood on the Web... how did you come to start on the Web?
<talanM> I've been working on the web since early 1996. Of course, that was with PERCEPTICON -- copy editing, writing code...
<Helen_Whitehead> Percepticon is the commercial Web design company you work with?
<talanM> In the background I was creating little hypertext pieces -- experiments, to build my coding skills. My creative work did not really get serious till mid 1997. At that point Percepticon was discussing the potential of starting a literary magazine on the web. I looked around the web for other examples, and to see what sort of work was being produce, how and where it was being published. This research made me take my little "rich.lit" experiments quite a bit more
<talanM> Yes, Percepticon is the business...
<Helen_Whitehead> Rich.lit -- a nice way to describe something we've been struggling to find a name for...the hypertext/cybertext/electronic literature/web writing
<Helen_Whitehead> Did you write for print before?
<talanM> i use it as a sort of catch-all...
<talanM> I have seen a few items to print -- a couple of minor theory essays published in micro-journals back in '90,'91... Then I got a serious bug to write a novel. I was very wrapped up in that for a long time and didn't really think about publishing at all. So, a novel I began in '92 is completed in '99. Heavily deconstructive thing -- CRACKED EGGS AND WASTED TIME... I may try to get this into print. Would be interesting to hold a book, rather than access files on t
<talanM> Parts of this novel are on the web, actually -- "Bread" in BeeHive and "Minute" in Cauldron and Net.
<Helen_Whitehead> Surely web and print are completely different forms?
<Helen_Whitehead> how can a novel be on the web?
<talanM> Well the web can be used for straight delivery or the work could be manipulated to take advantage of the technologies
<Helen_Whitehead> and then it stops being a novel as such...
<talanM> it depends on the motivation... I think deconstructive work lends itself to this sort of manipulation quite naturally...
* Loki93c_ agrees
* elizabeth jumps, forgot about Loki hovering up there
<talanM> Since I write fragmented text the transmutation is not that difficult to fathom... but it does alter the work.
<Helen_Whitehead> You said percepticon looked into starting a literary ezine... was that a business decision, an artistic one? Does your literary "rich.lit" feed into the commercial work?
*** Barry_Smylie has joined #trace
<talanM> The decision was both... Business in that we were exploring publishing models and viability... And it was something I had wanted to do for quite sometime...
*** Claire_Chapman has joined #trace
<talanM> so creative as well...
* Helen_Whitehead welcomes Claire and Barry
<Claire_Chapman> hi!
<Helen_Whitehead> So many of the web-specific writers we have interviewed had a background in the visual arts. Is that the case with you as well?
<talanM> Yes.
<Claire_Chapman> no, i came to see how things worked after i went to a story telling session
<Helen_Whitehead> where was that Claire? online?
<talanM> I think the hypermedia aspect is interesting to me because my background is primarily in visual art. I find the space of hypertext very much like that of an empty gallery ready for an installation. My approach to the visual space is similar. I think there is something so Barthesian about web work it is incredible. Truly, if you are involved in all the strata of web authorship you are more scriptor than writer.
<talanM> Text is neither word or image but presented through the mise en scene of the interface, text is environmental -- hypersensual, reacting to the touch. I find the pliability intriguing.
* Loki93c_ thinks talanm is right on the button
<Barry_Smylie> you mean John Barth?
*** Claire_Chapman has quit IRC
<talanM> Roland Bathes
<talanM> Barthes, that is
* Alan_McDonald grins at the idea of Roland bathing
<Helen_Whitehead> Can you summarise for those who haven't encountered Barthes (I know that's hard!)
<Maz> Does the visual aspect generally come before the words in designing/writing your work?
<talanM> I don't think I can take up your challenge Helen... I would be typing for hours...:)
<Helen_Whitehead> ok... do answer Maz
<talanM> Concept comes first. I always have a premise
<talanM> I usually work on the writing at the same time I am coding and creating graphics. Sometimes while I am working on a project my text may look more like functional specification than writing per se. Much of my work has at least a quasi-critique going on but any rigorous study of the subject is buried beneath, or made into fiction. Falsified, or transformed from text, an idea into an image, or compilation of functionality. To a certain extent this is what is going on in LUX. I am very interested in narrative form -- the extension and undermining of narrative form. This is one reason I call these pieces theory/fiction... LUX -- ficto-critical art history...
* Maz likes the idea of a functional spec .....often leaves subroutines to be written in her own work as well
<Helen_Whitehead> Perhaps several of us use functional specifications when generating a work.... we should ask more
<Loki93c_> the web gives flesh to dreams?......fluxus-style?
<talanM> Flesh...? gives digits....
<Loki93c_> living kaosophy
<Helen_Whitehead> LUX is in frAme4, very much a mixture of theory and creative work. Have you published elsewhere on the Web? Apart from your own journal BeeHive of course?
<talanM> I have a bunch of pieces out there, in frAme, Perihelion, Perforations, Riding the Meridian [links]... You can get to all the work from http://www.memmott.org/talan
<Helen_Whitehead> If you type the full url you can link from here http://www.memmott.org/talan
<Margaret_Penfold> I daren't go chasing URLs. I always get kicked off
<Helen_Whitehead> Try opening a new window before you go surfing!
<Helen_Whitehead> If you right click on a link you get the option to open in new window
<Margaret_Penfold> Thanks, Helen, that worked
<Helen_Whitehead> Talan, do you have any tips for new writers wanting to get work out there?
<Loki93c_> or even in2 print?
<talanM> Oh, it's wide open. It depends what the writer/artist wants to do. But it is the usual stuff... There are many publications out there, BeeHive one of them that take submission. It is a good idea to spend sometime doing research before submitting your work. Hit the Search Engines and look for literary publication, if a journal looks interesting, read through some of the content, look at the quality and variety. Always check for submission guidelines at the
<Helen_Whitehead> oh, I do like the page, Talan, I'll enjoy browsing that later
* Loki93c_ musesover influence of god of mischief on internet
<talanM> . With hypertext work you can sometimes show prototypes -- but if you get in you better finish the piece... Most of all, have fun with the media/um. Make it yours.
*** Barry_Smylie has quit IRC (QUIT: )
*** Barry_Smylie has joined #trace
<Alan_McDonald> Cripes Barry are you bungee-jumping?
<Barry_Smylie> yyyyyyyeeeeehhhh...... zap
<Loki93c_> ya nearly knocked me off the rafters Barry
<Helen_Whitehead> found an Introduction to Barthes http://www.sunderland.ac.uk/~os0tmc/culture/myth1.htm
<Barry_Smylie> sorry was trying the right click on Talan's page
<Helen_Whitehead> Perhaps it doesn't work for everyone!
<talanM> PC -- double click to open
<talanM> at least on this client...
<Barry_Smylie> i'll just read you here - that's enough
<Margaret_Penfold> Another Frenchman . they certainly have contributed to the literary scene.
<Helen_Whitehead> Are you a PC or a Mac man, Talan? What kind of programs do you use to create your websites... can you recommend any programs, shortcuts, tips?
<talanM> At Percepticon we take the 'big box' approach toward tool usage. We have a lot of tools in house and we use each for what it best provides. Photoshop and Homesite are staples. Most of my work is produced in these two programs... Plus a lot of hand coding. I generally work on a PC. I test my work on both.
<Helen_Whitehead> Do you use DHTML a lot?
<talanM> lately -- I AM ADDICTED!
* Loki93c_ thinks that's a good plotline for novella
<Helen_Whitehead> Do you find you are always experimenting? new programs, new possibilities....
<Helen_Whitehead> how can a writer keep up?
<Loki93c_> dhtml junkies mugging ya for ur java codes & applets
<talanM> Experimentation is part of my general method... I keep trying new things, breaking down language further... Perhaps I am a grammatologist...
<Helen_Whitehead> Yes, language.... I have noticed your interest in creation
<talanM> There are two fronts -- CODE and WRITING... experiments with the media/um and experiments with language...
<Helen_Whitehead> Your newest work -- to be shown at the trAce conference in July -- is called Lexia to Perplexia. I know "lexia" ... Barthes again, and a term used to describe the units of text in a hypermedia piece...but what about Perplexia?
<talanM> OK... since you sent me this Q. ahead of time here is my out of the can answer...
<talanM> Lex2Plex... top secret production code name :) Believe it or not, though this is probably not that surprising, the initial idea for Lexia to Perplexia arose out of my reaction to Robert Coover's keynote at DAC '99. Coover's presentation established a sort of divide between "Golden Age" hypertext and the sort of work that many current web writers are engaged in -- essentially what is being dubbed hypermedia.
<talanM> The term lexia comes from Barthes, and for people who have been working in hypertext for a while is a very important concept. Since the older concept of hypertext views lexia as a term primarily attached to text based work, I began thinking about what sort of units there are in hypermedia, or what I have recently been calling rich.lit. As well, the notion of the link has changed considerably with the advent of streaming video, flash, javascript, DHTML.
<talanM> I don't think it is accurate to say a link relocates. I mean, that is just not the whole picture anymore... A link can trigger process, cause animations to start, pop-up new window, video, flip between layers of a document. This changes the capacity of the link, affects the document by stratifying it, alters our perception of how we are attached to the machine and what we do when we are. The depth and richness here is incredible -- and still we've just begun.
<talanM> From the compare and contrast between older and newer hypertext work I came up with the differential -- Lexia to Perplexia. Perplexia itself is something of a loaded term. I have alternatively been organizing the word as per(p)lexia and per[plex]ia, and sometimes per[(p)lexia]. These are all used in the work as terms for different [sub|ob]jects.
<talanM> The architecture for Lexia to Perplexia is a bit complex. The piece to some degree is a critique and observation of the delivery-machine, the authorial practice of the web writer, and an exploration in disposable and dys|posable terms. I see the disposable determining of the media/um as an interesting phenomenon since there is not, and I believe should not be any concrete definition of the media/um yet. I'd like to see the field expand much further before there
<talanM> Lexia to Perplexia is really "melange", addressing various aspects of the media/um through an essay that is full of holes, trap-doors and detours. [I'M DONE NOW]
<Helen_Whitehead> thank you Talan -- if you missed all that folks it'll be readable on the Web!
<Helen_Whitehead> I'm interested in a couple of things you said there... your fascination with the "architecture" for one.... the structure of a web site, of a eb-sork...
<Helen_Whitehead> eb-sork = web-work (can't type)
<Helen_Whitehead> is it fair to say that's one of your passions... putting the whole together, developing the connections?
<talanM> the architecture in terms of narrative flow-thru and the information itself...
<Margaret_Penfold> Pity, Helen, eb-sork is intriguing
* Helen_Whitehead giggles
<talanM> post-structuralist structuralists, anti-formal-formalists
<Helen_Whitehead> doing your own thing...
<talanM> there is something to this in web work because the author is placed in flux
<talanM> look, its rubbing off... now I can't type
<Helen_Whitehead> do you think about the piece from the reader's point of view?
<Barry_Smylie> the delivery machine!
<Loki93c_> web-peranto=new vocabulary
* Helen_Whitehead nods at Loki
<Loki93c_> sproogle droop
<talanM> The reader... well, I am a bit more focused on the subject of the piece... I think the reader should encounter the work
<Helen_Whitehead> we've had mez telling us all about her language, and Talan too, you like creating new words and ways to communicate... you collaborated with mez recently didn't you? How did it go .. could you read each other's emails <grin>?
<talanM> that was an easy collaboration... I really admire Mez's language!
<Helen_Whitehead> I think yours is more subtle, literary... visual even
<talanM> I am a text and theory junky...
<Helen_Whitehead> Have you collaborated before? Would you do it again?
<talanM> My role in the collaboration was constructing the environment for Mez's word. I studied her words and experimented with animated typography, came up with some contextual play and I think the end product works.
<talanM> I will collaborate again... But, I mostly work alone. Stacks of books and coffee cups usually surround me when I work, and my world is 15 inches across. I get very involved with projects like "Lexia to Perplexia".
<Helen_Whitehead> Is there a difference when you put on your editor's hat for BeeHive?
<Helen_Whitehead> Do you have to be more concerned with quality and standards?
<talanM> I appreciate the variety of approaches and, although I have my own aesthetic preferences I would not want to limit expression. As an editor, I have guidelines for what goes into BeeHive. The journal has a defined format that I must make the pieces run within. Each issue is something of an architectural challenge, as some of the more complicated hypertext pieces require little adjustments.
<talanM> I know this has been discussed elsewhere and before, but I think the role of the editor of an electronic publication
<talanM> operates on a curatorial level when considering hypertext. So, with BeeHive I have to look at this work in one light and the straight fiction and poetry in another. I have to work with authors to varying degrees. Sometimes its, "Great. Thanks!", other times there is more give and take. But, BeeHive is definitely about the content.
<talanM> My own creative practice is much more --- me....
<Helen_Whitehead> At trAce we encourage our writers to keep journals of the writing process
<Helen_Whitehead> do you keep a journal of any kind to document your creativity, Talan?
<talanM> I keep doodles, diagrams, notes upon notes...
<Helen_Whitehead> online/offline?
<talanM> Both....
<talanM> I am always engaged in research of some sort
<elizabeth> I am just amazed by your energy and productivity Talan. Your job, the magazine, all your own work; and all of this achieved in such short time...
<Helen_Whitehead> do you sleep?
<talanM> That is the trick.... NO SLEEP! and lotsssssss of coffee!
<Barry_Smylie> and, of course, JAVA
<Helen_Whitehead> So what will you show us at Incubation?
<talanM> Well Lexia to Perplexia.... But, I will be presenting the rich.lit version on chalkboards....
<talanM> low-tech replication...
<talanM> I hope to get heavily into the 'terms' -- within the allotted time
<Helen_Whitehead> chalkboards? hope you've specified that on your tech request form <grin>
<talanM> do they still exist?
<Helen_Whitehead> Tell us more about your language. Where did Metagoria come from?
<talanM> I started using Metagoria in 1987 in connection with a collaborative installation. Another Artist and I lived on an outdoor sculpture for a week -- a giant steel backwards S -- Sidewinder by Allen Bertoldi at CSU Fresno. In my proposal I referred to our method as "Parasitic Metagoria". A couple years later I used it again as the title for a gallery installation, then again for "Reasoned Metagoria" in frAme3. Basically the term refers to a sort of substitution
<talanM> I may write a bit of straightforward narrative text and replace words, phrases, identities within the text. Repeating the process using the altered source as the basis. Sometimes a contextual fragment may inspire extended etymology or research into topics both central and peripheral to the fragment. Turning fact into fiction.
<Helen_Whitehead> fun...
<Helen_Whitehead> but we are coming to the end of our time
<Helen_Whitehead> some announcements before we finish... (final questions allowed....) Have you all seen the trAce survey into writers and the Internet? Please go along and fill it in if you haven't already: trace.ntu.ac.uk/question.htm
<Helen_Whitehead> And we hope to talk to Melinda Rackham in two weeks... though since the summer time changes, I'm not sure she can make the time!
<Helen_Whitehead> Hopefully jennifer Ley's chat and the log of this one will go up soon.
<Helen_Whitehead> Does anyone have any last questions for Talan?
<Margaret_Penfold> most interesting and tight session, Helen, Thank you very much Talan.
<Barry_Smylie> Thank you Talan
<talanM> this was great!
<Margaret_Penfold> Will be off, now. Bye everyone
<Barry_Smylie> clap clap clap
<Helen_Whitehead> Thank you very much indeed, Talan.
* Helen_Whitehead claps
* Maz ripples applause
* Margaret_Penfold claps and goes off
<talanM> Ah..... thanks for having me....
* Helen_Whitehead waves to margaret
<Alan_McDonald> thanks talan, thanks helen
* Loki93c_ drifts down from rafters 7 aplauds talan
<Helen_Whitehead> I am particularly indebted to Talan for the graphics for the new trAce site!
<Helen_Whitehead> So delighted to have you here
<talanM> looking forward to July!
<Helen_Whitehead> It'll be great to see you in July and have the chance to explore Lex2Plex
*** talanM has quit IRC

We hope you enjoyed this conversation and would like to join in.
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