«Electricity Invading the World of Typography»: Copy Art and Electronic Literature

Bruno Ministro, «Electricity Invading the World of Typography»: Copy Art and Electronic Literature

Comunicação apresentada por Bruno Ministro na Conferência da Electronic Literature Organization, “Affiliations, Communities, Translations”. [Texto. Ligações]

Conferência realizada na Universidade Fernando Pessoa, Porto, 18 a 22 julho de 2017. + info @ https://conference.eliterature.org

Abstract > The title of this paper borrows a quote from Marshall McLuhan, written in 1966, a period when the commercialization of the copy machine was just beginning its process of massification. McLuhan stated that “Xerography is electricity invading the world of typography, and it means a total revolution in this old sphere.” For a long time, the copier was seen as a revolutionary medium, bringing deep technical and social changes to the production, reproduction and dissemination of documents. To a certain extent, the copier was romanticized as a tool with potentialities that could not correspond to the expectations that only, years later, the personal computer would somehow fulfill.

In the era of the so-called “new media”, it urges to look at the history(ies) of “old media”. The goal is to open a space for the critical understanding of modes of inscription, expression and mean production through comparative media research. In order to do so, this paper will focus on copy art works, sketching a comparative case study based on the intersections between copy art and electronic literature. A group of works will be selected based on how they reflect upon the readability of word and image and, at the same time, deal with forms of material reflexivity promoted by the inscription tools and mechanisms of dissemination.

Considering the copy machine as an intermedia instrument, the research will be drawn upon the similarity and disparity between copy art and electronic literature – its features and affordances as a genre and medium; the aesthetics of micro-communities, such as glitch artists and artivists/hacktivists, present both in copy art and digital art; among other topics.

In copy art, part of the constellation of experimental literature artifacts, the expressive use of the copy machine expands the concept of textuality through the intersemiotic play between word and image, agent and machine, creative process and resulting artifact. Copy art and electronic literature works have in common the seriality, modularity and processability in the construction of its aesthetic objects. In relation to this, copy art asks for a dynamic reading, in the sense that to read these works we need to engage in an extranoematic effort (Aarseth, 1997), embracing a certain type of cognitive reading (Portela, 2013), which lead us to perceive the reflexiveness of the media, its affordances and restrictions.

Creative works cited or analyzed >

  • César Figueiredo & Jürgen O. Olbrich, ROTE BETE (Trip in Supermarket) (1993)
  • António Aragão, Electrografia 1 (1990)
  • Jürgen O. Olbrich, Photo copy Rock’n’Roll (1984)
  • Karl-Hermann Möller, Xerophonie (1985)
  • Franz John, The Copy Gallery (1987)
  • Alinta Krauth, if-notNow, if-then-when-else (2015)
  • Jim Punk collective, TRIPTYCH.TV and @crashtxt
  • other subversive twitter bots: @ClearCongress; @GlitchLogos
  • Lionel Kearns, By the Light of the Silvery McLune: Media Parables, Poems, Signs, Gestures, and Other Assaults on the Interface (1969)
  • Jim Andrews, On Lionel Kearns (2004)
  • Andreas Maria Jacobs, 11 Ways to Escape the Symbolic Regime (2013)