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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 new novel, 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". A crowd-sourced version of the novel is currently in development.

Entries by Illya Szilak

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

(0) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 1:31 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 | 5:55 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 | 2:07 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 | 1:09 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 | 4:22 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 | 3:39 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 | 5:25 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 | 8:06 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 | 7:37 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 | 4:42 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 | 1:15 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 | 1:14 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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Fleshly Data: E-lit and the Post-Human

(0) Comments | Posted May 10, 2013 | 12:58 PM

This is the 11th post in a series on born-digital literature.

Screenshot from Christine Wilks' Underbelly

"The fact that we cannot telegraph the pattern of a man from one place to another seems to be due to technical difficulties, and in particular,...

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Books That Nobody Reads: E-lit at the Library of Congress

(2) Comments | Posted April 24, 2013 | 7:30 PM

This is the 10th in a series on "born digital" literature.

Installation view "Electronic Literature and Its Emerging Forms." Melinda White

OK. Some people do read them, even if "read" is not the correct term. Even so, you won't find a single work of...

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Killing the Literary: The Death of E-lit

(3) Comments | Posted March 19, 2013 | 7:19 PM

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

Screenshot from Paul La Farge's hypertext for Luminous Airplanes

"Is e-literature one big anti-climax?" complained Andrew Gallix in The Guardian in September 2008. For many of us working in the field,...

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Just Playing Around: Why E-lit Matters

(0) Comments | Posted March 15, 2013 | 1:58 PM

The eighth in a series on "born-digital" literature, this post is a continuation of my interview with digital poet Jason Nelson

Screenshot of Jason Nelson's digital poem, "Sydney's Siberia"

In this blog post, I continue my discussion of Jason...

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It's All Fun Until Someone Loses: E-lit Plays Games

(3) Comments | Posted March 7, 2013 | 1:54 PM

This is the seventh in a series on "born-digital" literature.

Still from Jason Nelson's "i made this. you play this. we are enemies"
"Because they primarily exist as rule systems, games are particularly ripe for subversive practices. A hallmark of games is that they...
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New Wor(l)d Order: E-lit Plays With Language

(0) Comments | Posted February 7, 2013 | 11:28 AM

This is the sixth in a series on born digital literature:

Screenshot from Mez Breeze and Andy Campbell's "Dead Tower"
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither...
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It's Got a Good Beat and You Can Dance to It: E-lit Plays With Time

(0) Comments | Posted January 17, 2013 | 2:47 PM

Still from Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries "Cunnilingus in North Korea"

This is the fifth in a series on "born-digital" literature.

Unlike conventional literature, which relies on sentence and word density, phrasing and transitional passages to alter narrative rhythm, e-lit can directly modify the reader's...

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The Death of the Author: E-lit and Collective Creativity

(0) Comments | Posted December 27, 2012 | 5:16 PM

Still from Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph's Inanimate Alice

This is the 4th in a series of born digital literature

Although the modernist ideal of the genius artist creating a masterwork in solitude remains alluring, the networking power of the Internet provides the opportunity...

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