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ELO 2015: The End(s) of Electronic Literature


Donna Leishman (Dundee University, UK)

Interventions: Engaging the Body Politic
Friday, August 7 • 17:30 - 18:30 (Visningsrommet USF)

Human relationships are rich and they’re messy and they’re demanding. And we clean them up with technology. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self, as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body -- not too little, not too much, just right. (Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, 2011) 

Originally commissioned by New Media Scotland as part of their Alt-W Cycle 9, Leishman’s latest work Front is a pre-programmed Facebook parody that addresses the major issues of social media – privacy and voyeurism. Front’s interface whilst mimicking the immersive, interaction rich promise of social media, instead reminds us of where the power structures lie, and what is often freely given up by the user/viewer. A contemporary retelling of the Apollo and Daphne myth, Daphne, our protagonist shares her predilections, thoughts and meticulously crafted “selfies” – she has excellent taste (her Front friends tell her so), but all is not as it seems. The narrative moves towards a climax that presents the perils of misrepresentation with the darker side of self-presentation.

Front contains a faux IM chat facility that intrudes on the viewer’s passive reading of the interaction dead “timeline”, upsetting the expected sense of presence and time within the project. Set up as a cautionary tale, the project further re-mixes familiar social media practices via an linked twitter feed that extends the mediation of Daphne’s character whilst infusing the project with another level of “real” contexts (in the form of supportive specialist web links, and project documentation).


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