Currents in Electronic Literacy

E-poets on the State of their Electronic Art:



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Mez [Mary-Anne Breeze] has been described as one of the Web's original artists. The impact of her unique net.wurks [constructed via her pioneering net.language "mezangelle"] has been equated with the work of Shakespeare, James Joyce, Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings and Larry Wall. Since 1995, she has exhibited extensively via the Internet and in "realtime" at Prague's Goethe Institute, Digitarts '96, ISEA_97 Chicago, ARS Electronica_97, The Metropolitan Museum Tokyo, SIGGRAPH_99&00, d>Art 00&01, and hybrid<life>forms_01]. Mez is the 2001 Resident Artist at the Wollongong City Gallery (WCG), has been awarded the 2001 VIF Prize by the Humboldt-Universitat in Berlin, was shortlisted for the prestigious 2001 Electronic Literature Organization's Fiction Award, and has just been awarded the JavaMuseums' Artist Of The Year 2001 Award. Her Web site can be found at

  1. How do you define your work--what categorizations/classifications (traditional or otherwise) would you use to distinguish e-poetry in general and your work in particular?
  2. My work/style begins with the termina][o][l.ogical - the style m.ployed is called "mezangelling" and the projects/code poems produced are "net.wurks"; open source writing packets that are circulated via email and various other communication technologies ][eg International Relay Chats][. Identity swapping and the use of code conventions is also crucial to the formulation of these texts/net.wurks; by constantly shifting name-tags, an avataristic & collaborative approach is n.voked. This net.wurked formulation is what I consider is crucial in defining both my work and that of others that are d.voted 2 this method of "e.poetry".

  3. What are you doing in e-poetry that cannot be done in more traditional modes (such as linear paper)?

    My net.wurks use new technologies in such a way as 2 utilize the dissemination functions that are intrinsic in email & chat software. "Deadtree media" cannot m.brace the collaborative & immediate rite-of-reply that email texts can; this idea of constantly rewriting a text via fluid/fluxionic interpretation produces net.wurks that are constantly e.volving & radically accessible ][via email node points & code echos][.

  4. If you "collaborate" with others (for instance, outsource particular technological aspects of a "poem"), do you feel this affects the poem's "authorship?"

    Of course. This slippery auteur/authorship idea is one that underpins my revolving ][author][identity-tags; I've found that this n.courages others 2 adopt a projective quality that both obscures and n.hances multilogue-authorship & polyvocal ownership.

  5. Who are your readers and how are you interacting with them? How is youraudience similar to and/or different from that of the traditional poet's?

    My readers are those that are ][or choose 2 b][ x.posed 2 the & that are curious enuff 2 x.plore & rethink in terms of the technological; those who access my website are virally inducted in2 mezangelled texts via email lists and chat sessions in which I broadcast my wurk. The difference b.tween a traditional audience and the readers/ intra.actors that view/absorb/construct my work is one of scope - an can decide to re/deconstruct the work itself, or interact via immediate feedback, or simply rewrite the work as they see fit. The poetic boundaries are revamped substantially in terms of this type of potentially "active" readership.

  6. What excites you about this new medium for poetry? And what particular drawbacks (if any) does working with electronic technology present?

    What x.cites me about using new media is the way it can turn canonized notions of acceptability & ][boring][quality n.side-out without sacrificing expressive greatness….being x.posed 2 ][& also creating][various net.wurks that seek 2 utilize the very grain and grit of new media , that rip in2 preconceived artistic/poetic notions and n.gage the in a sphere of information that is not prescriptive nor predic][ated][table is terrifically stimulating. The drawbacks revolve around the contextual comprehension gaps - an audience may not b keen 2 delve b.yond their textual ][and cultural][ familiarity zone, which will hinder meaning trends/connections with the works themselves.

  7. How are you integrating/embracing other media such as sound, animation, and navigation?


  8. What kind of aesthetic is emerging in the field?

    There is no singular m.mergent aesthetic in the field of epoetry/net.wurking…a primary concern of mine is code poetry; this idea of creating poetry that is drenched in the very mechanisms that act 2 display it is one of the most n.teresting e-poetic contemporary aesthetics.

  9. What do you think the future holds for e-poets and e-poetry?

    Much, d.pending on how e-poets choose 2 harness the amazing potentialities of the network. Hopefully most creatives working in this field will choose 2 reflect the very nature/differences n.herent in the medium itself, rather than relying [and constantly re-iterating] the parameters of a deadtree media format.

Please cite this article as Currents in Electronic Literacy Fall 2001 (5),