I explore media in transition. My research encompasses film, video, print, digital arts, and the web. I'm interested in what artists and writers are doing and in what critics and scholars are saying.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Auto/Biographical Webs: Letters

As I mentioned in my two previous posts, I've recovered from my archives the bibliography of auto/biographical webs that I maintained online from 2001 to 2003. In addition to the sections on travelogues (February 23) and self-representations (February 24) that I've introduced already, I've prepared for VirtualDayz the section on letters -- digital experiments with epistolary forms. Although the research is more preliminary than in other sections of the bibliography, the listings, which were last updated November 2, 2002 (except for the links I fixed today), may be of interest nevertheless. From the perspective of 2006, I'm aware of many gaps to fill and areas to develop. I've selected highlights, removed inactive sites, and merged a few categories. Please feel free to suggest links.*

(Dates indicate when the site was added to the bibliography or when the entry was updated, a notational system started midway through the project.)


Coverley, M.D. (Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink), "Afterimage" ("explores the way that memory imprints on consciousness over time. In addition to the organized narrative of an individual history, much of the information of reverie is stored in images, and, like all images, these contain the dynamic for an afterimage. Long after the details of our past have faded, we respond to the resonant pictures, oscillating in the visual and aural echoes of years gone by." MCL, personal correspondence, 8/22/01), link updated 2/25/06; see also "Afterimage: An Anatomy of Anchors"

Fanning, Kevin, "
The Dear Mr. Thomas Letters," ('Although so much information was lost during the Great Drought that we may never know for certain, many scholars now believe that the 'dear mr thomas' letters, as they came to be called, were written by the children of Mountain 14 in their sleep.')

Fischer, Elizabeth, "
Grandfather Gets a House" (". . . a hypermedia work expressly developed for the Internet. The Web site houses a visually enhanced diary containing a series of texts written to the email list of a small group of Net-active writers and artists. The emails were written over a year, starting in August, 2000, and chronicle a canadian artists travels to Transylvania, the Hungarian region of Romania and the subsequent efforts of the group to help an impoverished Gypsy family.") The text is included in Situ: The Diary of Displacement, curated by Fischer (no longer online), 4/16/02; updated 2/25/06

Fox, Judith Hoos, curator, "
The Letter-Writing Project" (Wellesley College Davis Museum and Cultural Center)

Japanese American National Museum, "
Dear Miss Breed: Letters from Camp" (". . . highlights the Museum's collection of letters written to San Diego librarian Clara Breed by Japanese Americans interned in World War II concentration camps. Miss Breed, as she was known to the teenagers and young adults who wrote to her, was a lifeline to the outside world who comforted internees during their time of need."), 6/18/02

Kanarek, Yael, "
Love Letters Delivery Service" (Not a virus, thisfeature of World of Awe (WOA) will enable subscribers to receive loveletters via email approximately once a month through 2003." from press release, 6/21/01 (also listed in "Travelogues" section)

Legacy Project, " Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars" ("Our goal is to preserve letters written and/or received by members of the armed forces, as well as their families and friends. The Legacy Project focuses on letters because we believe they offer unique insight into warfare and its effect on those who experience it firsthand." The Web site complements the book War Letters, edited by Andrew Carroll.)

Lewkowicz, Wolf, "
The Wolf Collection" ("Between 1922 and 1939, Wolf Lewkowicz, of Konskie, Lodz and Opoczno, Poland, engaged in a lengthy and intimate correspondence in Yiddish with Sol J. Zissman, his deceased sister's son, who was born in Konskie, Poland, and who had immigrated to the United States as an 11-year old boy prior to World War I. . . . This online version of The Wolf Lewkowicz Collection contains only the English translations of the Yiddish letters.")

Mount, Jack D., University of Arizona, Library, "
Postcard Resources," 7/28/02; link updated 2/25/06

Open Letters (archive) ("Open Letters published daily on the world-wide web between June 19, 2000 and January 5, 2001. We've stopped publishing new letters, but the 106 letters and 6 conversations that we've published are still available in our archives."); see also the article, "Net Mail Calls," and the interview with the editor, Paul Tough.

PBS, "Letters from the Heart" ("Expanding on ideas from REGRET TO INFORM, LETTERS FROM THE HEART is a growing, organic memorial to those on all sides who lost their lives in Vietnam - a tapestry created by those left behind and others who support peaceful alternatives to war. The concept is simple: healing wounds through letter writing. Sharing stories to deepen understanding. Reaching out to forge new connections."), links updated 2/25/06

Penney, Margaret, "Dream 7" ("Margaret Penney, creator of the three year old Web site "Dream 7," is updating her well-respected work of net art by incorporating over 3,000 emails sent by visitors to the site. Called "Dream Log," the upcoming work is a visualization of the emails, which all recount site visitors' dreams. The original "Dream 7" is an attempt, says Penney, to present a dream-like experience on the Internet, navigable by surreal "dream logic." From Net Art News, written and edited by Reena Jana; site includes memorials related to events of 9/11/01), 9/28/01

Pranger, Pvt. Arthur, "Private Art: A Collection of WWII Letters To and From the Home Front"

Rivertrout ("a library of letters," which includes letters of passion, reason, and hope)

Thurston, Thomas (Project Director), "
The New Deal Network" (". . . an educational guide to the Great Depression of the 1930s." The comprehensive site includes "Dear Mrs. Roosevelt" [letters written to the First Lady from young people])

Women's Studies Dept., UC Berkeley, and Carla Cryptic, "
Women at the Millennium: (Fe)Mail Art" ("To date, we've received 240 pieces from 23 countries and 25 states within the US. Participants come from lots of different backgrounds, including mail artists, people who never heard of mail art before, students, teachers, UC Berkeley staff, professional and amateur artists, poets, people of varying skill in their chosen media, people celebrating women and people denigrating women."), link updated 9/2/02


G.I.R.L. (Girls Internationally Writing Letters, "a club for girls 8-14"); problem with site, 2/26/06

Kehoe, Brendan, "
Kids on the Web: Pen Pals"

Phi, "
Mail Art Links"

Russ, Wendy, "
Letters, Letter-writing, and Other Intimate Discourse"

Student Letter Exchange

*For recent approaches to the study of epistolary texts, see "Email Narratives" and "Distributed Narrative" by Jill Walker, "Email and Epistolary technologies: Presence, Intimacy, Disembodiment" by Esther Milne (Fibreculture Journal, issue 2), and "Mountain" by Fernanda Viégas.

Technorati tags: , , , , , ,

Friday, February 24, 2006

Auto/Biographical Webs: Self-Representations

As I mentioned in my last post (February 23), I've recovered from my archives the bibliography of auto/biographical webs that I maintained online from 2001 to 2003. Yesterday, I looked at the section that covered innovative approaches to travelogues; today, I examined the section on self-representations, a term I use loosely to describe a range of hybrid texts by writers, artists, documentarians, and scholars. (Classifications are fluid, and genres blur.) Although I did have to update several links in this section, which had not been updated since February 13, 2003, more than 100 sites are still accessible. The following examples suggest the scope of the work. I've saved historical adaptations for another time.*

(Dates indicate when the site was added to the bibliography or when the entry was updated, a notational system started midway through the project.)

*A separate post addresses letters.


Caney, Diane, and Robin Pettard, "Imaginative Reading V,"

Dallal, Joyce, "Finding Home" ("a story based on my father's struggle to legally immigrate and become an American citizen.") 6/18/02

Denning, Sharon, "Consumption 3: never sent unsolicited" ("never sent unsolicited uses one offshoot of internet technologies, junk email, to explore how we can view ourselves through how we are marketed, and to create one example of how new technologies and mass marketing's use of new technologies creates an impression of ourselves. . ."),, Denning submitted link, 6/17/01

Falco, Edward, "Self-Portrait as Child with Father"

Fisher, Caitlin, "These Waves of Girls," a hypermedia novella that explores "memory, girlhoods, cruelty, childhood play and sexuality.") *Winner of the 2001 Electronic Literature Award for fiction,

Gaiter, Colette, "The Natural Order of Things" (This interactive multi-media artist, looks at race, culture, and gender in post-apartheid South Africa and the United States.)

Goldberg, Marianne, and Christianne Brown, "Be to Want I: A Performance Piece for Hypertext,"; see also "Notes,"

Horvath, Peter, (includes three pieces with video and sound), 2/13/03

Ingraham, Elizabeth, "The Skin Series" (sculpture and poetry) (Ingraham states, "In this on-going series of work, I am exploring how expectation, desire and convention—our own and others—form casings which shape our deepest selves and which become so familiar they seem like our own skin. . . . "), Ingraham submitted link, 7/22/02

Jackson, Shelley, "Ineradicable Stain,"; see also "The Doll Games," by Shelley and Pamela Jackson,, and "My Body,"

Karasic, Carmin, "With Liberty and Justice for All" (In the form of a family album, an African American woman who was born in the early 1950s looks back on her early years.), link updated 2/24/06

LaPorta, Tina, "Distance,", see also interview with LaPorta,, link updated 2/24/06

Lialina, Olia, "My Boyfriend Came Back From the War,"

Lisa, "Welcome to Lisa’s Web World" (step back in time, 1950s, etc.),; Lisa’s nostalgia café, 1960s, 70s, 80s (Time Traveler)—includes extensive database with ext. links, e.g., music, tv, lifestyle, fashion, etc. (links updated 2/24/06)

Lopez, Jacalyn Lopez, "
Glass Houses: A Tour of American Assimilation from a Mexican-American Perspective," link updated 2/24/06

Malloy, Judy, "Dorothy Abrona McCrue" (hypertext fiction),, link updated 2/24/06

Matanle, Steven, and Ingrid Ankerson, "Anywhere" (poem with audio),

Ming Cheng Yun, David, "Subway Story: An Exploration of Me, Myself, and I,", link updated 7/22/02

Nettles, Bea (photographer),; see Online Works, including "Turning 50" and "Grace's Daughter."

Pack, Jeff, "Growing Up Digerate,", link updated 7/22/02

Palmer, Marcy, "A dis-house-jointed" (". . . explores ideas of space,location, and physicality in online experience. . . . "), 5/22/02

Powazek, Derek, "San Francisco Stories,", 4/12/02

Rodriguez, Nino, "Portrait of the Artist as a Home Page," ("Nino is Mexican, Italian, or Russian. He is an 8-year-old boy, a 45-year-old man. He wants a girlfriend. He wants a boyfriend. He loves his wife. He wears suits. He dresses like a homeboy. . . ." Claire Barliant, Rhizome Net Art News), 11/11/02

Squier, Joseph, "Urban Diary" (visual art, on " The Place" site; see also "Life with Father," memoir), link updated 7/22/02

Stasuk, Rose, "Eyescream Jellyfish," (". . . Jacques Cousteau and Ingmar Bergman eat electric, Kool-Aid Häagen-Dazs and watch "Jason And The Argonauts" in 3-D.")

Stern, Nathaniel, "" ("a navigable artsite of photography, spoken word and video poetry. While viewers surf the site, hektor attempts to re-member. . . . However, similar to Julio Cortazar's Hopscotch, where readers can tackle any chapter, in any order, to assemble a whole story, this narrative is built by the listener, according to which pieces they have seen, in what context, and in which order. " N.S.); for background on the artist, see; Stern submitted link 8/23/02

Turner, Myron, "Autobiography" (" . . . takes as its subject matter the interconnected "village-like" family environment in which I grew up during World War II in The Bronx." MT); see also "Sea-Changes: A Metabiography" ( ". . . a collaborative biography project for artists in their 50's and up." Intro.), Turner submitted links, 5/14/01; second link updated 7/22/02

Weishaus, Joel, "Reality Dreams, Scroll One" (". . . an autobiography that consists of nineteen 'scrolls' of journals intersticed with reminiscences, poems, dreams, philosophy and critique. . . .")


Beller, Thomas, et al, "Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood,", link updated 2/24/06

Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, "Voices: Family Stories,", 6/18/02

The City Stories Project, ("There is a thing that I call city-based storytelling. It's somewhere in between a personal journal and a city guide. It's a series of personal stories where the city itself becomes a character in your story. SF Stories is basically my long love letter to San Francisco. What city do you love?" Home page includes links to City Stories from around the United States and the world.); See, for example, MiamiStories,, 4/12/02

Community Word Project: Murals ("The murals were created by children ages 6-15 from the diverse communities of New York City's boroughs. They are the culminating works of year-long Community~Word residencies in which youth had the rare opportunity to learn how to give voice to themselves & their community through words and art. . . . Each mural is based on a line from a collaborative poem that was written by that class."), 5/7/02

The Cyber-Kitchen ("the cyber-kitchen' is aimed at building a collaborative net installation with its starting point in the cyber-domestic aesthetic. Currently there are 30 globally-based artists involved in this project. 24 artists' work will be available when the kitchen opens on 23rd July 2002 with the rest of the works added over the following two weeks. The project will then be ongoing with more 'objects' added to the kitchen and artists responses to them."), 8/7/02

Cyber Sisters Club (an after school activity for girls from an inner city elementary school in Allentown, Pennsylvania--meet the Cyber Sisters),

Don, Abbe, "Bubbe’s Back Porch,"; see also "No Soup, Just Matzoh Balls,"

Finlay, Jeanie (Ruby Digital Arts and Design), "Heard It in the Playground" (". . . a lively intergenerational project initiated and designed by music and arts organisation Firebird. Musician and storyteller Sally Goldsmith worked through Spring and early Summer with a group of 8 and 9 year old children and a group of older residents (mostly living in sheltered housing), in the Lincolnshire village of Cherry Willingham. The project took children's experience and older people's memories of games and 'playing out' in the playground and street as a starting point for creative work - storytelling through oral testimony, collecting and sharing games, singing, songwriting, rhythm work, photography, sound recording."), 4/19/02

Finlay, Jeanie (Ruby Digital Arts and Design), "Home Maker" ("Home Maker is the result of a Year of the Artist residency, which took place in the homes of four housebound older people in South Debyshire. Finlay spent time with each of the four people, getting to know them and making panoramic portraits of them which have now become part of an interactive, navigable online environment. By exploring the environment the viewer can visit Florrie, Roy, Betty and Lilian in their own living rooms and experience their histories, preoccupations and passions in the form of hidden mini video documentaries embedded in the online space."), 4/19/02

Flax, Carol, "M/Other Stories" ("A poetic piece on adoption. . . . This site offers viewers an opportunity to add their own stories."); see also "Ex/Changing Families," by Flax and Ann Fessler, ("A web site and traveling collaborative installation which looks at issues of adoption and the social and political implications surrounding it.") link updated 2/24/06

Guyer, Carolyn, "Mother Millennia: Related Web Sites,"

Hoskin, Teri, et al, "Noon Quilt" (". . . an assemblage of patches submitted by writers from around the world. Together they form a fabric of noon-time impressions. The quilts were stitched over a period of approximately five months during 1998-1999.")

Inspiring Stories of People Living with HIV and AIDS (international),

Lederman, Russett, "American Views: Stories of the American Landscape" ("Emulating the fragmented, non-linear, montage-like construction found in the writings of the German cultural theorist, Walter Benjamin, this interactive work brings together a collection of private and public images, audio, ephemera and text from three "storytellers.") ,

LeGrady, George, "Pockets Full of Memories," (in conjunction with an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, April 18, 2001 to September 3, 2001. ". . . the latest installation work in a series begun in the early 1990s dealing with the topics of archive, cultural identities, audience contribution and technological processing of information. Two works that closely relate to this current project are "An Anecdoted Archive from the Cold War", first exhibited in 1993 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco and "Equivalents II", first exhibited at the International Center of Photography, NY in 1994." from press release); see also "An Annotated Archive from the Cold War" (CD-ROM),, updated link 2/24/06; see also "Interface Metaphors & New Narratives in Interactive Media,"

"Migrating Memories" (MIME), ("Refugees and asylum seekers tell their stories. . . . What becomes important when you leave your country for one reason or another? Which objects, scents or pictures awaken memories? New inhabitants in Malmö, Tampere and Nottingham tell their stories." Trace press release)

Museums and Millennium ("Museums from the four corners of the globe have collaborated on this unique Web site. The remarkable journey through their various visions provides new perspectives on some of the major existential issues facing humanity at the dawn of the third millennium. . . .The project Museums & Millennium is an initiative of the Musée de la civilisation in Québec. It is subsidized by the Canada Millennium Partnership Program and the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec and is sponsored by the daily newspaper Le Soleil."); see menu,; see also section "Memories of the Twentieth Century" (includes memories of love, family, war, school, aging, working),

Novak, Lorie, et al, "Collected Visions" ("Launched in May 1996, Collected Visions is a participatory website that explores the relationship between family photographs and memory.") (Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett recommended site, 5/12/01)

Partnoy family (Raquel, Alicia, and Ruth Irupe Sanabria) with Wilfried Agricola de Cologne, "Family Portrait,", Wilfried Agricola de Cologne submitted link, 8/13/02

Powazek, Derek, creator of "The Fray" ("The {fray} universe is one big idea in three pieces. (where you are) is about telling true personal stories on the is about telling stories in real life. is about selling stuff to fund our real world events. Three sites, one message: tell your stories. Welcome.") See his selections and personal stories by other contributors.

Szabo, Grant, and Jeff Beer, "Tracings in the Sand: Gulf War Veteran Resource Pages" "Tracings in the Sand is a section of the Gulf War Veteran Resource Pages for you to share the experiences of your service during the Gulf War, as well how that service has affected your life since your return. Civilians who served in the Persian Gulf region during the war are invited to submit their stories, too."

Women of the Waves (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service--Waves National Michigan Unit 32),

Technorati tags: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In Memoriam

Coretta Scott King, human rights activist, 1927–2006

Wendy Wasserstein, playwright, 1950–2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Weblogs and Web Journals: Historical Perspectives

Curious about the early history of online journals and diaries, I examined "The Online Diary History Project," a collaborative effort started in 2000 to "preserve some memories of what online journaling was like in the beginning." For this purpose, organizers of the study chose the three-year period from January 1995 (when, they claim, the first online diary was posted) to the end of 1997. The thirty-two respondents who share their recollections are listed in a chronological ordering based on when their entries first appeared, beginning with Carolyn Burke, and proceeding from there.

Guided by her beliefs in free expression and free information exchange, Burke used "Carolyn's Diary" to present "a snapshot of what a person is like on the inside." She presented her writing on her personal Web site, which was hosted by the first ISP to open in Toronto. At its peak, her diary received 100,000 hits per week. Burke participated in 24 Hours in Cyberspace, a "24-hour time capsule of life in the emerging online world" that Rick Smolan produced in February 1996. (The event has been documented in a book and a CD-ROM of the same name.) With three other online diarists (Justin Clouse, Willa Cline, and Bryon Sutherland), Burke was featured in a segment called "Sex, Lies, and Websites: Dear Diary, The story of my life -- is anyone listening?"

An influential online journaler that several respondents mention in their recollections is Justin Hall, who began "Justin's Links from the Underground" in January 1994. Justin states, "I started a web site to detail my questions about life in an era of increasing connection. . . . I helped other people share their minds in the space that became journals and blogs and personal web sites." "Justin's Links" has been covered extensively by the media, as an annotated list of print references indicates. He was featured in Doug Block's 1999 film documentary Home Page. Now a graduate student in the Interactive Media Division at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, he is taking a break from personal blogging, an event that Reyhan Harmanci commemorates in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ryan Kawailani Ozawa, founder and lead editor of Diarist.Net, emphasizes distinctions between the web journal ("looks inward — the author's thoughts, experiences, and opinions") and weblogs or blogs ("focused outside the author and his or her site") while also noting that these genres sometimes converge. As histories of blogging suggest, the private and the public often commingle online, and new approaches to self-expression continue to emerge in cyberspace, thus redefining notions of diary writing and journalism. An entry on blogs in Wikipedia provides an overview of these developments.

From the perspective of American literary history, Viviane Serfaty, an Associate Professor of American Studies at Université de Marne la Vallée in the Paris metropolitan area and at ENA, the French School for Government, offers a scholarly view in her book The Mirror and the Veil: An Overview of American Online Diaries and Blogs (2004, Rodopi). So far I've read only an excerpt, but her analysis seems insightful.

Technorati tags: , , , ,