Werner Twertzog– Back from the Dead

TwertzogBack

Werner Twertzog is back from the void of Twitter deactivation.

My recent entry on Werner Twertzog’s disappearance came a couple of weeks after his June 18 exit, announced on a tweet that I missed at the time and had no access to because upon deactivation, all of his tweets disappear from Twitter’s public interfaces and are reported as nonexistent.

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Werner Twertzog– he dead?

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Internet Archive snapshot of Werner Twertzog’s Twitter page on February 27, 2015.

Werner Twertzog (@WernerTwertzog) is a persona that performs a parodic homage of German filmmaker Werner Herzog on Twitter. This humorous account does an admirable job of capturing Herzog’s voice in (necessarily) brief, aphoristic tweets that express his existentialist perspective and wry humor.

Performing a celebrity’s persona for artistic, humorous, and/or political purposes has recently become a social media trend. Some notable examples are @SlavojTweezek, @TheTweetOfGod, God (on Facebook), and Kim Kierkegaardashian. Werner Herzog’s inimitable verbal style has even been the subject of a series of YouTube videos by Ryan Iverson, such as “Werner Herzog Reads Where’s Waldo?” The Twitter account, Werner Twertzog, has been so successful that its last name has become a term (“Twertzog: To tweet (verb) or a tweet (noun) in a dark, German style that seems erudite, absurd, and possibly morbid.” see this recent interview), a hashtag #twertzog, and a day-long celebration on September 5 (see image below) in which people try to tweet like Werner Twertzog (see image below).

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“Storyland” by Nanette Wylde

Screen shot from “Storyland” by Nanette Wylde. Black background with the title “Storyland” above. Each letter is a different color: pink, green, purple, red, baby blue, yellow, aqua blue, black red and orange. The text below is in white and there is a pink circle in the right corner at the buttom that says “new story”. Text is hardly viewable in this image.
Open “Storyland” by Nanette Wylde

Nanette Wylde’s Storyland (2002) is a digital work that produces recombinant narratives within a frame that seeks to evoke the ethos of a circus performance. Each story within Storyland opens with a black screen, the title of the work lighting up in a randomized configuration of multi-coloured letters to a shortened subsection of of Louis-Philippe Laurendeau’s ‘Thunder and Blazes’ (1910), a small-band reworking of Julius Fučík’s Opus 68 march, ‘The Entrance of the Gladiators’ (1897). The stories within Storyland follow a basic six paragraph template, and are refreshed each time the user presses the ‘new story’ button. Each time this button is pushed, the page refreshes by playing its music again and produces elements in a new combination in order to tell the user a different narrative, seemingly depicting a whole new performance, although elements of the previous tale are displaced and repeated within each new tale.

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“The Fall of the Site of Marsha” by Rob Wittig

The Fall of the Site of Marsha 1
“The Fall of the Site of Marsha” by Rob Wittig

Rob Wittig’s 1999 digital text The Fall of the Site of Marsha chronicles the changes to the website of the narrative’s protagonist, Marsha, through the spring, summer and fall of 1998. The narrative opens with three narrative threads, each of which corresponds to the state of the website during the season indicated. The reader can click on each thread in order to view the website during that phase, and navigate it as one would have conventionally navigated any website’s homepage. Marsha’s website focuses on Throne Angels, a subclass of Angels that are conventionally associated with the Throne of God and therefore linked to divine justice and authority. Marsha’s original intent in creating the website is to produce these angels as beautiful and protective, asking people to share angel stories and linking these angels to her own performance of spiritual renewal. She intends to use the website to cheer herself after having been depressed due to the loss of her job and the death of her father. However, as time passes, Marsha’s website is vandalized repeatedly in order to reveal the unsaid buried beneath Marsha’s statements, and this vandalism is ascribed to the Throne Angels and their thirst for justice and divine retribution. Marsha’s invitation to the Angels to play on her website results in its vandalism and in Marsha’s own descent into depression and madness upon having to confront the events they reference or reveal.

As is characteristic of the gothic genre, Wittig’s tale plays upon the pervasive fears of one’s current society; that is, The Fall of the Site of Marsha reveals the societal horrors associated with current aging middle-class women – that of alienation, depression, affairs, and family secrets revealed. Wittig’s modern gothic tale allows for  the reader to read the events chronologically and note the changes made to the website’s homepage and its various links as these reveal the larger narrative in play; i.e. Marsha’s complicated relationship with her father, her husband’s affair with her best friend, Elizabeth or “Bits”, and Marsha’s own depression and issues with self-perception.  Playing with conventions of terror, unheimlich or the uncanny, death and the supernatural to advance its narrative, Marsha’s presumption of Angels being protective and nurturing is revealed to be false. Instead, they are shown to be vengeful and unrelenting in their pursuit of what they feel to be the “truth”. Yet despite the fact that these acts of vandalism are ascribed to vengeful Angels seeking justice, this claim cannot be verified and the reader remains aware that this vandalism could very easily be the work of Marsha’s husband, Mike, or an unknown hacker. However, given that the vandal is aware of events that are otherwise unknown by anyone other than Marsha, the events continue to seem uncanny and inexplicable, and linked to the supernatural.

The Fall of the Site of Marsha 2

The website moves from a relatively clear, ornate interface to one that is darker, largely unreadable, and has numerous additions that are then marked as strike-throughs, misspellings, and cut up or manipulated pictures. This movement of the website from seeming innocence to decay and ruin creates the gloomy and frightening scenery that is conventionally associated with the gothic genre. The image of the changed website thus not only recalls its origin as clean and thriving, but displays its downfall as the result of the hidden secrets that lay under its façade.

Featured in: Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1

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“.txt” by Fernando Nabais, Fernando Galrito, and Stephan Jürgens.

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still image from “.txt”

.txt is a work located between dance, poetry, and digital technology that challenges any attempts at genre classification. Its presence in that directory of articles dedicated to poetry in digital media at first be justified by the presence of the written word, however, the motivation that drives this brief reflection is far from being limited to the presence of the language code. It is an exciting and complex project, built from a fusion of languages ​​through digital technology and whose interaction depends on a body gesture.

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“@Tempspence” & “#tempspencepoets” by Mark Marino, Rob Wittig, et. al.

“Reality: Being @SpencerPratt” by Mark Marino and Rob Wittig

 

“Occupy MLA” by Mark C. Marino and Rob Wittig

Occupy MLA is back!

Screen capture of “Occupy MLA” by Mark C. Marino and Rob Wittig. Twitter cover is a picture of an empty journal with a big, red "O" on it. Twitter profile picture writes "occupy MLA," followed by a lengthy description of the twitter account.
Open “Occupy MLA” by Mark C. Marino and Rob Wittig

But don’t be alarmed just yet, since this resurgence of the controversial netprov, takes the shape of a published archive (linked to in this entry’s title). This documentation is exemplary, including a 3-minute introductory video, a link to an artists’ statement at The Chronicle of Higher Education (with a fascinating comment thread), an indexed and color-coded archive of the tweets, and an Excel file with the raw data from the four Twitter accounts that form the heart of this work. With this resource, you can read most of this timely performance that blurs the lines between fiction and reality, satire and activism, and virtual and embodied spaces.

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“@Darius_at_GDC” by Darius Kazemi

Screen Capture from the “@Darius_at_GDC” twitter account, created by Darius Kazemi. Text: "@tinysubversions isn't attending GDC 2013, so he created me to attend in his place. Tweet 1: GEE DEE CEEEEEEE Tweet 2: We are going to revolutionize the notgames. We're hiring passionate developers toZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz *snort* Tweet 3: It's been a struggle just to keep my eyes open."
Open “@Darius_at_GDC” by Darius Kazemi

This bot is a stand-in for Kazemi at the Game Developer’s Conference happening at the time of this posting in San Francisco, because he will not be able to attend for the first time in 10 years. So instead of pining away on Twitter as #GDC tweets flood his stream, he created a bot so his friends could have the pleasure of his company in their own streams, which as we know, is almost as good as his being there. If that were all this piece was, it would be little more than a Kazemi-themed Twitter equivalent of this:

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“The River Dart” & “Babble Brook” by J.R. Carpenter

Screen capture from “The River Dart” & “Babble Brook” by J.R. Carpenter.  A twitter account with the picture of a river in the background and profile picture. Some of the postings read: “Hail on magnolia leaves. These and other improbably sounds.”, “All hail the cold rain”, “It can halt in the sun for longer than one might imagine”, “Sudden sun hail shower”.
Open “The River Dart” & “Babble Brook” by J.R. Carpenter

This poetic performance on Twitter is a series of observations focused on the Dart river and its environs in Devon, England. The earliest tweets on this account, which started on November 19, 2009, focused on the practicalities of walking along the river, and rapidly settled into a language based study of the river and its environs. The tweets exhibit a curious mixture of subjective and objective perceptions, writing from a very personal perspective without falling into Romanticism. It is more like Olson’s dictum that “ONE PERCEPTION MUST IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY LEAD TO A FURTHER PERCEPTION,” but captured and delivered over time via Twitter.

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