The INTRE:FACE Digital Conference (06.02.2016-07.02.2016), organized by Katharina Deloglu and Tom Bresemann, hosted by Andreas Bülhoff, tackled many important questions regarding digital literature. In a series of articles we bring you the speeches and discussions held at the INTRE:FACE Digital Conference, dealing with problems regarding digital literature and different tools used to construct it, for example how can digital tools be used to offer new approaches to production, what digital tools already exist and how are they structured, to more applied problems, such as how can literary activists use digital means to connect with one another, how we can make most of digital material and many other interesting topics.
Peter Dietze, an author, poetry translator, activist of North of Berlin and co-editor of randnummer: He started the project cloudpoesie 2 years ago, together with Karla Reimert, Alexander Gumz, Fabian Thomas and Andrea Nienhaus, who was involved on the programming side of things. At first, cloudpoesie was a think-tank – an on-going conversation about what the project aims to achieve. It was decided that e-books in the epub3 format would be produced, because the older formats had less options for formatting and design. It was noticed that there was a gap between the real world of literary performance and the digitized literature available, almost as if certain writers were scared of the digital change. One thing that also came to light in the conversations was that there weren’t that many poetry e-books available, so cloudpoesie was partially conceived also with this in mind.
The authors that collaborated on the project were Andreas Bülhoff, Martina Hefter, Georg Leß, Katharina Schultens, Andreas Töpfer and Charlotte Warsen and consisted of two parts. First, there was the Workshop, hosted by Lettrétage. Andrea Nienhaus introduced the e-book format, to make sure everyone had the same level of knowledge. Authors had to start to think about what is possible to write in the epub3 format. WordPress was used to start the writing, every artist starting by writing one text and then passed it on to another author. The end result was a huge chaos of multimedia text.
In the second part, the Presentation, authors were given the floor, the room was split up into different spaces, but kept open. It was more like a jam session than an actual reading. The authors also had the opportunity to make new texts or photos and later Andrea put the whole evening together as an e-book. The first version was distributed to the audience present on the evening. Another version was later produced by another author chosen by the participants and two further versions are still to be published. The third version will be published by STILL magazine; the aim is to keep every version a bit different from the other and unique. As such the publication(s) serve as example of the ‘never-ending writing’, it entertains people and gives them a new type of experience of working together.
(ins pictures from cloudpoesie map ©Mirko Lux)
How did you communicate during the workshop and the presentation?
Andreas Bülhoff: We used an offline local network device called Pirate Box. It served as a chat and file-share box for a private space. People were posting photos and writing new text during the performance, which was then edited afterwards. Jazra Khaleed’s performance was more fluid, since it fed of ever changing information. We only used the box in a limited, enclosed time and space.
Could this be an example of how digital literature and ritualized performance can be brought together? With a combination of a large, global, uncontrollable sphere (i.e. the Internet) and the local physical space needed for performance?
Tom Bresemann: This type of creative process, which feeds off communication feeds, be it on the internet or in a closed network, produces literature which is both “timely but also timeless; personal but also impersonal” – because it is created in the instant which is ever changing. As an event organizer, we are always looking for ways to create open spaces for creative participation, which are perhaps best found in these types of interchanges. “It’s not about putting up the monument somewhere to be consumed” – the production and the product become part of the same simultaneous process.
How did the audience react? Who came to the event?
Peter Dietze: A lot of writers came. Unfortunatelly, it didn’t attract such a huge public outside of the literary circles concerned.
Andreas Bülhoff: The chat function was used mainly as a chat room – to talk about the event. It only became poetic afterwards, after we read back through it.
Nikola Richter: I like this idea of chatting in an intimate space. It may make very abstract and progressive art forms seem more accessible to the audience – perhaps it’s a way of giving the audience a presence on the stage?
How do you transpose the live performance into an e-book form?
Peter Dietze: Every edition of the e-book is a static version of what happened at the whole project – but it is just one version of the whole. When you compare the different versions of the e-book with one another, you get a more holistic picture and they make more sense.