Of Sinkholes and Superhighways


What do you get when you mix Beuys, Derrida, McLuhan and the Florida Department of Tourism? In just the right conditions, you might get Gregory Ulmer, a media theorist and practitioner based at the University of Florida. Ulmer's work, as an educator and theorist, combines literary theory, networked aesthetics and a concern for the social creation of meaning in physical space. At his website, under a banner that reads 'Florida Research Ensemble,' you'll find links to specific projects that include a list of proposals for what Ulmer calls 'electronic monumentality.' Examples of these monuments include an interactive, electronic Mount Rushmore installed at a sinkhole in Florida and a continuous, real-time printout of traffic fatalities at the Vietnam Memorial. While Ulmer may seem big on neologisms ('mystory' being my favorite), his project is one of practice as well as theory. As he tells students in his 'Hypermedia' class, 'We are not studying hypermedia, but doing it.' - Ryan Griffis