“Pathfinders: Documenting the Experience of Early Digital Literature” is making its debut at Washington State University Vancouver July 8 – 9 in the Electronic Literature Lab in the Classroom building, room 210. Stuart Moulthrop, professor of English at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee and an innovator of electronic literature and hypertext fiction as both a theoretician and writer, will be the first guest. He will also lecture at 7 p.m. July 9 at Nouspace Gallery, 1005 Main St, Vancouver, Wash. The lecture, “Failure to Contain: Electronic Literature and the State of (Machine) Reading,” is free and open to the public.
The project explores the idea of digital preservation and asks the questions: What happens to literary works meant to be experienced on a computing device when the software and computer systems with and for which they were created update, change or become obsolete? Do we allow these works also to become obsolete too, or do we find ways to preserve them?
“Pathfinders,” led by Dene Grigar, associate professor and director of the creative media and digital culture program at WSU Vancouver, and Moulthrop, are developing methods for digital preservation with the goal of capturing not only the digital work but also the human experience of interacting with early digital art . It is supported by a “Digital Humanities Start Up Grant” from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Moulthrop has produced many critically significant works of digital writing and art over the past 25 years. One of his best-known, “Victory Garden,” (1991) was produced for computers that are not compatible with current standards, making the work unavailable for web-based archives without changes to its original form.
To preserve the beauty of the original work, Grigar will videotape Moulthrop in the Electronic Literature Lab as he talks through “Victory Garden” using a vintage Mac Classic. Following Moulthrop’s reading, two readers unfamiliar with “Victory Garden” will be videotaped to produce a record of multiple readers’ experience with the work. This is a process Grigar and Moulthrop call “traversal.”
Three more “Pathfinders” traversals are scheduled through the fall. To learn more, visit http://dtc-wsuv.org/wp/pathfinders or contact Grigar at firstname.lastname@example.org