October 9, 2007

Our Manifesto Machine (and More)

by Nick Montfort · , 7:29 pm

A topic that came up at the UC Irvine symposium – and, actually, before the symposium – is whether Grand Text Auto is a movement along the lines of surrealism, Dada, and the Oulipo. Scott knows all about these movements and things and probably has the definitive word here, but as all of us were discussing, we’re of the opinion that we’re not such a movement. A movement typically promulates manifestos which declare the movement’s intentions and set forth some sort of agenda. That’s not Grand Text Auto at all. As Mary said during the symposium, we’re a manifesto in reverse. We’re united only by our blog, which is at best a system for writing manifestos along with many other other things. It certainly isn’t a manifesto itself.

A manifesto lays out what should be done. On Grand Text Auto, we typically do it first and carry on about it later. Andrew and Michael fashion Façade. Noah streches Screen out. Scott and I implement Implementation. Mary manufactures a [giantJoystick]. We are given to thinking out loud as we’re working on our various arts, but it’s usually after we’ve practiced what we’re about to preach that we finally say – discuss.

We don’t form a unified front here. When Michael declares that new media creators must be programmers!, Scott writes an essay in response questioning this. And then Michael, at the symposium, says that maybe his hard-line view on programming is part of the reason that only one interactive drama has been developed, and maybe someone (that is, Michael) needs to write some tools that non-programmers can use. And maybe I still more or less agree with Michael’s original position and want to teach those other potential interactive dramatists to program instead of developing blunted tools – just so all of us don’t converge to a harmonious happy mean.

All that said, I must admit that we Grand Text Auto bloggers are united by more than our machine for manifestos. We all share a common interest in the creative use of the computer, and we are willing to read each other’s posts, and we will at least entertain each other’s ideas and write to each other in public when we have something to say. That counts for a lot in my book. And, I think, it counts for a lot on our blog.