Vanishing letters in text-based digital installations

Janez Strehovec


New media shaped textuality, narrative, codeworks and digital poetry are deployed in electronic literature as a practice situated in Internet and post-Internet arts. E-literature embedded in online venues has outgrown a hyperfiction phase and become conceptual. Instead of hyperlink-based storytelling, it has begun dealing with itself, becoming e-literature after the end of e-literature-as-we-know it, aligning with contemporary art, science, philosophy, economy and politics. Entering the “after the end” phase is of essential importance for a particular field. In its conceptual phase, e-literature addresses its fundamental principles, investigates the limitations of digital media, Internet, language, narrative, text, sign and code. Its projects are laboratories for playing with different hypotheses. However, the reflection on the technology that generates it and the experience stimulated by its projects significantly contribute to an understanding of e-literature. This paper is focused on the second experience as defined according to Benjamin’s concept of the second technology, a playful experience enabled through technology. Based on play, the second experience promotes exploration and blurring boundaries, which in the case of digital textuality means dealing with a vanishing text which is only conditionally legible and whose existence is limited to a particular time.


digital textuality, electronic literature, Walter Benjamin, vanishing signifiers, conceptual phase, second experience

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