Performing digital texts in European contexts
Over the course of the next few months I will be performing as a commentator for Jacket2. I will be collecting, recollecting and commenting on a wide variety of digital texts and contexts operating in the inter-zones where digital media, literature, visual art and performance practices meet. Some of these texts may be more about language than about literature. Some may be more about reading than writing. Some may seem to be more about the social than anything. Some may be visual art, or net.art, or media art, or sound art or some other art or all of the above or something in between. Some will refer to the literary without containing a character of text. And some will be live moments, never again to be realized.
There are terms for these ways of working. Writing in networked and programmable media. Transmedia storytelling. Hypermedia. Multi-media. Multi-modal. Cross-art-form. Art Writing. Performance Writing. For me, this last term incorporates all the elements I am most interested in, which is why I have placed the word performance first in my title.
What do I mean by Performance Writing?
In “What do we mean by Performance Writing?” a keynote address delivered at the opening of the first Symposium of Performance Writing, held at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, England, on 12 April 1996, Caroline Bergvall proposed that “the performance of writing would be this observation which seeks to locate expressedly the context and means for writing, both internal and external to language, whether these be activated for and through a stage, for and through a site, a time-frame, a performer's body, the body of a voice or the body of a page.” The performance of digital texts both internal and external to code languages may be activated for and through a CPU, a network, a browser, a hand-held device, a < body > tag, a performer’s body, the body of a voice or the body of a page.
One of the principal tenets of Performance Writing is: context is everything. The European context, of course, comprises many different countries, cultures and languages, each with wildly divergent art histories, digital infrastructures and social realities. Although, or rather because, I already have certain writers, works, venues, events and organizations in mind, I actively seek suggestions on others. Send names or links to Commentaries Editor Jessica Lowenthal.