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Illya Szilak
Illya Szilak uses open source media and collaborations forged via the Internet to create multimedia novels. Shaped by her experiences as a practicing physician, her artistic practice explores mortality, embodiment, identity and belief in a media inundated and increasingly virtual world. Her first novel Reconstructing Mayakovsky was selected for the second Electronic Literature Collection and was a jury pick for the Japan Media Arts Festival in Tokyo in 2010, and at Filmwinter in Stuttgart in 2011. It is being taught in creative writing programs around the country as an example of new media writing. Her newest work, Queerskins, about a gay physician who dies of AIDS at the beginning of the epidemic, was officially recognized by the Webby's as one of the best websites in the category of "Net Art" and has been selected for inclusion in The Electronic Literature Collection (v.3). Currently, she is collaborating with Oscar Raby and VRTOV to create a virtual reality experience inspired by Queerskins. In addition, Atomic Vacation, an interactive, post-apocalyptic narrative installation housed in Google Earth landscapes will be published in late 2016.

Entries by Illya Szilak

Artist Profile: Jess Johnson and the New Language of Virtual Reality

(0) Comments | Posted July 13, 2016 | 11:19 AM

In virtual reality, it is an industry maxim that we design engaging, enjoyable experiences and promote user agency through intuitive, interactive interfaces. Such a human-centered perspective is well meaning, but it discounts the novel ways in which our proto-cyborg bodies might sense and interact with environments....

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Jessica Kantor's Ashes: Gesture as Narrative in VR

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2016 | 11:01 AM

Still from Jessica Kantor's Ashes

In this post, I'll look at Jessica Kantor's lovely 360° video work Ashes. Situating it within the context of early silent film and dance, I'll examine the role that gesture plays in the emerging narrative language of...

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Art Review: Yael Kanarek's Must-See Show at bitforms

(0) Comments | Posted April 26, 2016 | 12:19 PM

"Kisses Kisses," net art from Yael Kanarek's "Kisses Kisses"

In her outstanding new show, "Kisses Kisses," at bitforms, Yael Kanarek offers an illuminating view of her wide-ranging digital and multi-media practice. Co-curated by Kerry Doran and Dylan...

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'Electronic Literature: A Matter of Bits' -- A Must-See Exhibition of Digital Writing

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2016 | 8:53 AM

John McDaid's Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse, installation view, "Electronic Literature: A Matter of Bits," Stedman Gallery, Rutgers University, Camden

It's not often that I tell people they must go to New Jersey, but the current exhibition "Electronic Literature: A Matter...

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Artist Profile: Rachel Rossin, Virtual Reality Fellow at The New Museum's NEW INC

(0) Comments | Posted January 15, 2016 | 3:56 PM

"Roses Re-topo," oil on canvas, Rachel Rossin

This is the second in my series on Virtual Reality as an emerging art form.

Sitting in a swivel office chair at The New Museum's incubator lab on the Lower East Side, I...

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Book Review: Narrative as Virtual Reality 2

(0) Comments | Posted December 29, 2015 | 3:39 PM

Marie-Laure Ryan's Narrative as Virtual Reality 2 looks at VR through the lens of reading and writing. This is the first in a series of posts that will focus on Virtual Reality as an emerging art form.

This lucidly written updated...

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Art Review: "Kenya Eats a (Big) Cracker"

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2015 | 9:54 AM

"Kenya Eats a (Big) Cracker," Performance View

When New York artist Kenya (Robinson), recently named one of artnet's "Twenty Emerging Female Artists to Keep on Your Radar," tells me that she considers herself a minimalist, I start to laugh....

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The Body of Michael Brown--A Response to Kenneth Goldsmith

(25) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 12:57 AM


It is likely that poet Kenneth Goldsmith and most of the audience last Friday night at Brown University have never attended an autopsy. For them, Goldsmith's reading of his poem, "The Body of Michael Brown," a creative editing of Brown's autopsy report, was...

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Review: Hyperobjects--Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World

(0) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 12:31 PM


Always a world for us, never
the nowhere minus the no:
that innocent, unguarded
space which we could breathe,
know endlessly, and never require.
Rainer Maria Rilke, 8th Duino Elegy

In this series...

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Review: Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound

(0) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 4:55 PM

Lori Emerson's Reading Writing Interfaces
"When computers move into people's homes, it would be most unfortunate if they were merely black boxes whose internal workings remained the exclusive province of the priests." "Homebrewery vs. the Software Priesthood," Byte magazine, 1976


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Review: 'Disperse the Light' an Exhibition of New E-Lit

(0) Comments | Posted July 21, 2014 | 1:07 AM

Miss July, from M.D. Coverely's "Fukushima Pinup Calendar"

Each year writers, critics and scholars of "born digital" literature congregate at the Electronic Literature Organization conference. The latest, hosted in June by the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, featured a juried, interactive show of...

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A Map for the New World: The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2014 | 12:09 PM

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media

The recently published "Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media", weighing in at over five hundred pages, claims to be the first "systematic and comprehensive" reference work on digital media. However, the reader need only scan the table of...

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TOC: Steve Tomasula's Brilliant Literary Time Machine

(0) Comments | Posted February 14, 2014 | 3:22 PM


"To me, the medium is inseparable from the message, or at least an equally interesting part of the message e.g. it's impossible to talk about a medieval manuscript without thinking about how it embodies a whole way of life, with its pages...
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Software Takes Command: An Interview With New Media Theorist Lev Manovich, Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted December 24, 2013 | 2:39 PM

This is part 2 of my interview with Lev Manovich, author of the new book Software Takes Command; part 1 can be read here.


Still from Jeremy Blake's digital animation, Sodium Fox (2005), courtesy Kinz Fine Art


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Software Takes Command: An Interview with New Media Theorist Lev Manovich, Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2013 | 4:25 AM


If men were able to be convinced that art is precise advance knowledge of how to cope with the psychic and social consequences of the next technology, would they all become artists?

-- Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (1964).


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A Book Itself Is a Little Machine: Emily Short's Interactive Fiction (Part 2)

(0) Comments | Posted November 4, 2013 | 7:06 AM

This is the 16th in a series on "born digital" literature
Part 1 of my interview with Emily Short can be found here

"A book itself is a little machine....Writing has nothing to do with signifying. It has to do with surveying, mapping, even realms that are...
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A Book Itself Is a Little Machine: Emily Short's Interactive Fiction

(0) Comments | Posted October 30, 2013 | 6:37 PM

This is the 15th in a series on "born digital" literature.


Francis Picabia, "Machine de bons mots" (1920)

No one has been able to pose the problem of language except to the extent that linguists and logicians...
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The Silent History: E-lit Looks to the Future

(2) Comments | Posted July 1, 2013 | 3:42 PM

This is the 14th post in my series on "born digital" literature

Screenshot from "The Silent History"
"Are words our creation or did they create us? And who are we in a world without them? Are there wilder, more verdant field out...
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Reorienting Narrative: E-lit as Psychogeography

(2) Comments | Posted June 11, 2013 | 12:15 PM

Screenshot from J.R. Carpenter's "City Fish"

Decades before the birth of the Internet, Max Ernst created a collage drawing titled "The Master's Bedroom--It's Worth Spending A Night There." In an elongated rectilinear view, we peer into a room populated with furniture and...

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Remembering the Human: E-lit and the Art of Memory

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2013 | 12:14 PM

This is part 2 of my post on the work of Christine Wilks, the 12th in a series on born digital literature.

Screenshot from Christine Wilks' e-poem "Soma Suture"
Writing is pre-eminently the technology of cyborgs, etched surfaces of...
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