Creative Media

At the end of last week, bravely struggling with a ghastly head cold, I attended the Association for the Study of Australian Literature's (ASAL for short) fascinating conference at the University of New South Wales. This was my first ASAL conference, and I found it stimulating and frequently challenging. I was also a little shy in the presence of so many brilliant academics - I'm afraid I was something of a wallflower.
The highlight for me was probably the Keynote lecture from Kate Lilley. As well as being a brilliant academic and poet, Kate is the daughter of legendary Australian writer Dorothy Hewett, who is one of my great literary heroes. After her brilliant, funny and moving lecture about her own relationship with her mother's literary estate, Kate Lilley has also become a hero. I will be chasing up her book of poetry, and also looking forward to her edited edition of Dorothy Hewett's poetry coming soon from UWA Publishing.
The most stimulating session (and one that inspired lots of ideas) was on Online Media and new ways of broadcasting (and archiving) literary content. The papers were presented by Anna Gibbs, Maria Angel and Sally Evans.

It was a fascinating exploration of what exactly new technology is doing to writing, and how writers, artists and performers are merging in a new medium, producing work which is quite new and constantly challenging to the literary establishment. As Prof. Gibbs pointed out, this kind of work is becoming increasingly important, and is ever-increasingly influencing the shape of printed work, and the ways that people "consume" literature. I was reminded of the theses of people like David Shields and Ander Monson, whose work work is very much inspired and shaped by the experience of surfing the net.
Another really interesting point made was about the continued ephemerality of this kind of on-line work. Technology changes rapidly, servers crash and close, and some really seminal stuff has already disappeared forever. This brings a whole new sense of urgency to the consumption of on-line texts (in whatever form) in a way that I would suggest is reminiscent of a much earlier age. When it comes to the internet, archiving is still not a priority.
Sally Evans presented us with the most incredible "map" of the internet, which was quite mind-blowing.

She was talking about the Hypermedia theories of George P. Landow and how each blogger now acts as the ultimate authority on their own life, acting as biographer and archivist of a particular technological self which is distinct from the "real." Or is it?
So many wonderful ideas - my brain is still buzzing.


JEANNE said…
Hello Walter, I was very interested in your text and how you enjoyed the ASAL conference. I am not a literary person as such but I do enjoy reading a good book as well as poetry. I am not familiar with Dorothy Hewett's Poetry. Thanks for the link and also your welcome visit.

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