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ELO 2015: The End(s) of Electronic Literature

Borderline of Textuality, Materiality of Networks: From Land Art Geographical Poetry to Locative Literature

Anna Nacher (Jagiellonian University)

Panel: Mobile, Locative, Augmented
Friday, August 7 • 09:00 - 10:30 (Sydneshaugen skole: Auditorium B)

Land art – along with situationism – is often mentioned as the obvious genealogy of the walking-based locative media art, including locative literature (Bleecker and Knowlton, 2006; Hight, 2010; O’Rourke, 2013). In my paper I would like to focus on its performative aspects, investigating the relations between materiality, experience and environment. This triadic structure is in obvious ways inspired by Rita Raley’s proposition of critical approach to mobile narrative (Raley, 2010), yet with a twist – for my main point of departure are the specific practices of land art seen as the examples of transversality and intermodality, where the artwork is considered as the networked object including documentation, context of its production and the various instances of the auctorial paratexts. This is the case of various walking-based projects by Hamish Fulton and Richard Long, including design of their exhibitions and various forms of documentation accompanying the artworks.

I am going to focus especially on Fulton’s “geographical poetry” (Careri, 2002:150), likened by Francesco Careri to the Japanese haiku. Such investigation raises important questions often pertaining to the very act of categorization as to what constitutes the art object in the case of networked entity but also to the possibilities and limitations of the inclusion of the experience of bodily movement through space (with its nonlinearity, evanescence and fragmentation) within the framework of the particular work of art. 

However, similar set of questions posed in regard to the instances of locative media literature reveals the significant differences. At least in one important aspect the case of locative media art is entirely disparate: the reality of digital tracking has to be considered, which radically changes the meaning of the projects based on the idea of situationist drift and other walking-inspired performances. Getting lost is barely possible; as a matter of fact, every performance gets its digital trace produced by the acts of logging in and joining the networks. Hence some of the artists tend to shift their attention to the very technical tools that enable localization of the subjects in space (mostly GPS), aiming at different strategies of dislocating such technology to the effect of its subversion. The example of Transborder Immigrant Tool by Ricardo Dominguez and b.a.n.g. lab is particularly revealing in this regard – the project has been purposely enhanced with poetry by Amy Sara Carroll and renamed as Global Poetry/Positioning System. Therefore, it is worthy to ask to what extent and in what aspects the genealogy linking the practices of land art with locative litterature can be useful? What are its limitations? 


J. Bleecker, J. Knowlton. 2006. “Locative Media: A Brief Bibliography and Taxonomy of GPS-Enabled Locative Media”. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, vol. 14, issue 13/14.

Careri F. 2002. Walkscapes. El andrar como practica estetica. Walking as an aesthetic practice, Barcelona: Editorial Gustavo Gili, Barcelona.

J. Hight. 2010. “Locative Narrative, Litterature and Form”. In Beyond the Screen: Transformations of Literacy: Sturctures, Interfaces and Genres, edited by J. Schäffer and P. Gendolie. New Brunswick: Transitions.

K. O’Rourke. 2013. Walking and Mapping. Artists As Cartographers, Cambridge and London: MIT Press.

R. Riley. 2010. “Walk This Way. Mobile Narrative as Composed Experience”. In Beyond the Screen: Transformations of Literacy: Sturctures, Interfaces and Genres, edited by J. Schäffer and P. Gendolie. New Brunswick: Transitions.

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