The Electronic Literature Collection, Vol. 2: A Retrospect
Having completed reading all the e-poetry in the ELC2, a little reflection is in order. Launched a little over a year ago, this collection has proven to contain some highly engaging work in a surprising number of platforms and authoring software. I was delighted to discover works in Second Life and Half Life both immersive social/gaming environments that provide the ability to create and give shape to spaces with writerly tools. Also surprising, yet disappointing was having to see movies documenting work in environments I didn’t have access to. I felt that the limited space of the anthology could’ve been better used by incorporating works we could really experience. Still, I understand the impulse to document the existence of works that may not be online or in a platform that cannot be published online, such as works designed for the CAVE.
The poetry in this collection was quite moving, with interfaces that went from minimalist to highly sophisticated. In comparison to the works in the Electronic Literature Collection, Vol. 1 the design seemed cleaner, more transparent, better integrated to the poems. Is this an indicator that e-poetry is becoming less “interesting” and more “good?” Is it still in an experimental phase, discovering what is the message of this medium, as pertains to language? Videogames feature prominently in this collection as well. Does that mean that e-literature is blending with one of the oldest modes of artistic expression in digital media?
Whatever the case may be, this and the previous collection are a record of a global phenomenon, with works in multiple languages from all over (but not from Korea?). There is still so much to discover and recover because not every writer of dancing signifiers has been represented in these collections.
It is time to read and write about some of those who didn’t get included. Perhaps they’ll find their way into a future Volume 3 of the Electronic Literature Collection.