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.
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.
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 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.
“.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.
This Twitter character came to life in the “Reality: Being @spenserpratt” netprov, was christened “Tempspence” by Pratt’s followers (as a “temporary” Spencer), and lives on in this Twitter account, along with a community called The Tempspence poets. Their symbiotic existence was sustained by social media interactions of a group of people that came together through this netprov, and extended the life of the performance beyond its metaphorical covers.
This Twitter fiction netprov is based on a simple enough premise: reality star Spencer Pratt lost his his cellphone while in London for Celebrity Big Brother, and it was found by a struggling poet who began to use it in whimsical ways to promote poetry. During the three-week performance, the poet prompted Pratt’s followers to write poems based on constraint he provided, was outed as an impostor, dubbed as Tempspence, continued to develop a relationship with his readers as he shared details of his life, and eventually migrated (reborn?) to a new account, @Tempspence, as Pratt regained control of the account.
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.
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:
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.