For the next couple of weeks, leading up to Theorizing the Web 2013, we’ll be posting a series of previews of some of the papers we’ll be showcasing at the conference. This is one of those. Stay tuned for more!

Cameron Paul – “Mediating Beyond the Page: Objectivity, Materiality, and Environmental Approaches to Digital Poetics”

Panel: Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction

This presentation addresses the topic of digital poetics and emphasizes the ramifications of Rita Raley’s suggestion that “all languages, all symbolic information systems, contain the potential for deconstruction and play” (403). It explores digital poetics, its relationship to concrete poetry, and the role of materiality in environmental processes of mediation. Drawing on the critical works of Marshall McLuhan, Rita Raley, N. Katherine Hayles, and others, this presentation aims to acknowledge ways digital poetics reflects and impacts the heterogeneous, interactive environments that both structure and reveal mediation as an ongoing process. It offers up several questions: How has digital poetics revolutionized the way we conceptualize the idea of literature in light of what Rita Raley has dubbed “ the ‘literary’” (403) or “mobile media poetics” (401)? How has this allowed for a material renegotiation of semiotic modes of interpretation? How might the motifs of digital poetics be seen as engaging with mid-century concrete poetry? This critical conversation aims to illuminate ways digital poetics has revolutionized our preconceptions of both mediated subjectivity and the role of materiality in problematic discussions of literature as ‘artistic object’. Ultimately, I hope to address Rita Raley’s own belief in “ the ‘literary’ as a way of thinking about language structured by incongruity, disruption, incommensurability, unpredictability, and complexity. Such a conception of the literary means that we need not assume, or even require, a particular technological substrate” (403).

Digital poetic’s environmental processes rejects an objective ‘self’, but, by doing so, similarly rejects and remediates contained objects of art into heterogeneously interactive, mediatic environments. Rather than a circuitous relationship between objective self and an artist object, digital poetics reveals both to be environmentally subsumed concepts and acknowledges the primacy of mediation and remediation as ongoing, interactive processes of negotiation within “a broader media ecology” (Raley 406). By acknowledging the environmental, mediatic interaction that occurs amongst communicative mediums, this presentation explores ways that digital poetics has reignited artistic emphases on processorial, fragmented conceptualizations of literature. Reflecting on the implications of mid-century concrete poetry’s own emphasis on “[n]on-linearity, hypertextuality, multimediality, and post-alphabetic writing” (Olsson 285), this presentation explores ways that digital poetics has extended this critical conversation since the advent of digital mediums.

Works Cited
Hayles, N. Katherine. “The Time of Digital Poetry: From Object to Event.” New Media Poetics: Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories. Eds. Adalaide Morris and Thomas Swiss. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2006. 181-209. Print.

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1964. Print.

Olsson, Jesper. “Kneaded Language: Concrete Poetry and New Media in the Swedish 1960s.” Modernism/modernity 18.2 (2011): 273-288. ProjectMUSE. Web. 14 Mar 2012. <>.

Raley, Rita. “Mobile Media Poetics.” DAC 09 : after media, embodiment and context : Proceedings of the Digital Arts and Culture Conference, 2009. University of California, Irvine, 12 Dec 2009 – 15 Dec 2009. Ed. Simon Penny. Berkely [sic], California: University of California Press, 2010. 401-406. Print.