[NetBehaviour] Announcing the Spring 2019 Issue of The New River, edited Makensi Ceriani

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Thu May 16 03:59:46 CEST 2019

Announcing the Spring 2019 Issue of The New River,
edited Makensi Ceriani

(from Ed Falco)



noun: media; plural noun: media; noun: the media

     The main means of mass communication (broadcasting,
publishing, and the Internet) regarded collectively.
     An intermediate layer in the wall of a blood vessel or
lymphatic vessel.
     Late 19th century: shortening of modern Latin tunica (or
membrana ) media middle sheath (or layer).

As I reflect on what New Media means to me and what it has meant
in the past few decades for this journal specifically, I keep
returning to the meaning of its name. Media as a means of
communication, as an intermediate space, as a necessary layer for
either protection, evasion, or somehow the creation of truth; the
last definition my own, and exemplified by the contributors in
this issue. Each work explores, creates, and disassembles the many
faces we wear, the secrets we keep, and the places we put each as
we navigate our interactions and emotions with others, and with

To me, electronic literature offers at its best the self-aware
criticism of experience mediated through technology and the
admission that sometimes technology is the only way we can express
such experiences. The work is often choreographed chaos, full of
images, words, sound, and movement that opens into a (more)
understandable whole, which is similar to the way we take in and
experience the world. Each work in this issue offers a
multi-layered consideration of how we exist with others, with
technology, and with whats underneath our own masks.

Alan Sondheims Beside Themself is a short video set in the
unwritten space of a digital plane. It is a world not yet made, or
as yet unmade, and to my viewing explores the preemptory motions
of action. It echoes an about-to-happen through its repetition and
halting movements. The text running across the screen reminds one
of thoughts running around and around in their head, the sort of
mental planning done before a confrontation or a confession. The
hesitancy in the shapes, the blurring of possible bodies and
possible conversation, the monotonous urgency of the voiceover all
coalesce into an unsettlement of what it means to get or say
something right.

Alan Bigelows How to Rob a Bank could be considered the world made
and making that eludes us in Sondheims work, but it also offers a
purely mediated experience of that world. This selection includes
parts 1-3, Research, Escape, and Romance, respectively, which
details the lives of Ted and Elizabeth through their online
presence. What the reader knows of each character is found only
through their social media posturing and intimate digital
interactions. We witness in virtual time their bank robbing, their
date nights, even how they deal with hostages through their Google
searches. The comedy of their reliance on the internet also comes
with a tinge of pity though, for as a reader Im left to wonder who
they could have been if they werent experiencing their own lives
through the lens of their devices.

Mez Breezes The Thing Tableau can operate as an automated video,
as a click-through narrative, and as a virtual reality experience.
Each provides a different layer of immersion, which is fitting for
a work focused on the immersion and inescapability of the self.
This piece is short and to the point on first viewing, but the
detail and texture of the body-as-world will grab the imagination
and keep a reader plumbing its, or their own, depths. The reader
can view a 360 whole as well as every nook and gap of its parts.
The piece encourages this exploration as it demands a certain
level of vulnerability on the part of the reader; the reader has
to fill in the blanks with their own experience, and each new
discovery of place can enact a new discovery in the reader. I
found myself questioning my own memory and what I still held on to
as I moved through the spaces. I would recommend viewing this well
before sleep to avoid any late-night introspection.

Will Luers Tales of Automation is a collection of vignettes that
explore the effects of digital automation on embodied experience.
They are never-ending, and often mimic the constant scrolling and
rabbit holes of feed-based sites. Tale 6 is different from other
tales in that it makes the reader stay in one place and the text
shift, rather than the reader following and falling down a page.
The reader can choose to pause or scramble the text at their
leisure. What they cannot do is recapture what they have left
behind. Each re-entry to the tale brings a new image and new story
with text that reads at times like philosophy, like internal
anxiety, like a romance novel, and sometimes like a mundane to-do
list. The tale will always give the reader a story. It will also
ask the reader to make their own sense of meaning.

What I find most enjoyable about this issue are the varied forms
among the work and how each asks the reader to engage. No piece
presents itself the same way, but the reader is wholly absorbed
all the same. Each contributor has made their own definition of
new and through their work have expanded the possibilities of New
Mediawhich, really, just brings us back to the meaning of its
name. Please enjoy these works.

adjective:   new; comparative adjective: newer; superlative
adjective:   newest

     Not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently
or now for the first time.
     Already existing but seen, experienced, or acquired recently
or now for the first time.
     Just beginning or beginning anew and regarded as better than
what went before.


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