Literary Media


In 2001, a handful of artists and programmers at Brazil's Mamute Midia responded to Italian author Italo Calvino’s incomplete 'Six Memos for the Next Millennium,' A series of undelivered lectures on 'Lightness,' 'Speed,' 'Accuracy,' 'Visibility,' 'Multiplicity' and 'Consistency' - the last of which was never written. Calvino identified his subjects as the qualities of literature that would keep it relevant in the twenty-first century; the artists subsequently identified them as key tenets of interactive media. While Calvino, who died in 1985, might seem an improbable bridge between pre-internet aesthetic questions and web art, his work is in fact marked by an immateriality, immediacy, transience and narrative not unlike the experience of many net-based visuals. Mamute Midia's CD-ROM and accompanying web site propose that even in the always fragmented and, by definition, unfinished realm of new media, we may mine the past for inspiration. Their Calvino-inspired Shockwave animations imitate literature by limiting user control over the narrative path and effectively present aesthetic trends as dual skeleton keys, which solve past quandaries while simultaneously opening doors to new ones. - Christine Smallwood