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ELO 2015: The End(s) of Electronic Literature

“This is not a utopia” Collection of Russian Electronic Literature

Curators: Natalia Fedorova (Saint Petersburg State University, Russia) with Daria Petrova (Saint Petersburg State University, Russia)

Decentering: Global Electronic Literature
Thursday, August 6 • 17:30 - 18:30 (3,14)

This is not a utopia" is a collection of Russian electronic literary work from early 2000s through 2015. The show is based on the Russian Electronic Literature research collection in the ELMCIP Knowledge Base ( prepared in 2013 by Natalia Fedorova. The collection problematized a number of gaps in the development of Russian e-lit and the exhibit shows also the work that has been created since the gap was acknowledged. 

Utopia is a society constrained with an aim of achieving collective happiness. The antiutopia of the post-soviet space alongside with many of the disillusionments was marked by the introduction of Internet and personal computing in the mid 90s. Teneta literary contest made the first "cyberature" works visible and Alexroma was one of the active participants of the cyberature community, represented by his work "Falling Angels”. Net art such as asciiticism by Ivan Khimin, inspired by Alexey Shulgin's work, a legendary net artist of the 90s, was also important in Russia digital art. In the 2000s videopoetry captured the imagination of the poets in search of the new tools of expression and remediation and "Snow Queen" by Machine Libertine add their recognizable AI touch to this tendency. Using different tools “Polarities” by Elena Demidova remediates classical Russian Silver Age poetry to reveal atomic particles of a poetic language.

Experimental literature has a century-old tradition of futurist publishing and performance activity, which shifted to the underground in the Soviet era, and merged back on the surface in the 90s with the collapse of all the social realism constraints. Characters of the St. Petersburg underground scene of the late 80s are revived in "Kuryokhin: Second Life" an interactive fiction debut by Michael Kurtov. “1/2/3” by Anna Tolkacheva, where the title is borrowed from Vsevolod Nekrasov, adds his minimalist poet lines to the  Mozhaisky region of Moscow's walls and fences.

The new impetus to the electronic poetry was given by the Laboratory of Mediapoetry established by Elena Demidova in 2013 in Moscow and followed by Mediapoetry Machines art residency held in Skolkovo gallery lab in 2015. The exhibit features three of the works by Anna Tolkacheva, Elena Demidova and Irina Ivannikova that resulted from this project.

Falling Angels (2001)

We know that angels start to fall from the heavens once they realize it is not heavans any more. The first person poetry shooter by the active participant of the pioneering cyberature community allude to many resentments of the 90s and are also fun to shoot.

asciiticism (2006)
Ivan Khimin 

“asciiticism", a blend of ASCII and asceticism, an ascetic retro-futuristic TV set broadcasting asciitic images. It sends us back to asceticism of soviet industrial design and the realia of the net art of the 90s.

Ivan Khimin (Russia)
Snow Queen (2010)
Machine Libertine

Snow Queen, a debut videopoem by Machine Libertine, is a combination of masculine poetry «Poison Tree» by William Blake contrasted to mechanic female MacOS voice and  Sever group remix of  Souzfilm animation «Snow Queen» (1957). The cubist imagery of the Snow Queen's realm evokes parallels with the realm of the digital that is as unstable as the icicles that Key composes the word "eternity" from.

Focus (2014)
Irina Ivannikova and Maxim Kalmykov

“Focus” is a work that resulted from the Moscow Laboratory of Mediapoetry (2013-2014) curated by Elena Demidova. This interactive textual installation is based on Vito Acconci’s  “READ THIS WORD THEN READ THIS WORD READ THIS WORD NEXT READ THIS WORD...” It explores the physicality of the reading process: camera follows the reader’s glance, the text appears at the part of the screen, where the reader looks.

Polarities (2014)
Elena Demidova and Maxim Kalmykov

This kinetic poetry generator is based on the texts by two polar authors, husband and wife, Anna Akhmatova and Nikolay Gumilev. Letters  from their decomposed  texts are moving  according to the magnetic field principle like positively and negatively charged particles. The work is produced by two authors a computer programmer and an artist, who are also husband and wife. 

Kuryokhin: Second Life (2015)
Michael Kurtov

Kuryokhin: Second Life is (meta)simulator of Sergey Kuryokhin's afterlife, an IF loosely based on the bio of the avantgarde composer and the legendary leader of Leningrad's cultural life in the 1980s and early 1990s. (Meta)simulator allows you to earn scores in health, knowledge and maddness, while giving you opportunities to rethink the paths of the post-Soviet culture and politics. At a certain point one discovers that the unfolding story is just an attempt of media-archaeologists from the far future to reconstruct the lost simulator of Kuryokhin (therefrom the concept of metasimulation).

“1/2/3”  2015 
Anna Tolkacheva 

1/2/3 is an elliptical video poem based on Russian minimalist poet Vsevolod Nekrasov's "Utopia" and footage from Mozhaysky region of Moscow.  Each time three random photos containing a space where a text could appear are shown at three interactive screens. Being touched each photo transforms to video where one out of ten lines of Nekrasov's poem appears. The viewer never knows which of  these evasively poetic lines were documented or added with digital tools.

At the opening of the Decentering show, "Pythia"—an interactive prophetic text generator by Machine Libertine (Russia) will be available, and audience members can use it to research the utopian future of their closest community.

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