#experimental literature

Experimental Writing Conference

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, and you read Infinity’s Kitchen, then you should definitely check out the “Untitled” conference. If anything cool goes online, as a result of this conference, we’ll be sure to mention it here. Here’s the skinny on this year’s conference.

The fifth annual series of experimental writing conferences, Untitled: Speculations on the Expanded Field of Writing is a two-day conversation about writing which, in some manner, exceeds the printed page. The conference is October 24-25, 2008.

Untitled is a common name of contemporary art works and also refers to the incipient moment of a new text or idea. It was chosen to convey a sense of openness and process. A variety of writers and artists will discuss the use of language and words and/or their object status, the book and the letter, the question of the “emptiness” vs. the fullness of language as a poetic medium, the pictorial versus the narrative, the incorporation of extra-linguistic symbols and signs (maps, diagrams, formulas, etc.), the question of conceptual writing and words off the page – performed, cited, projected, incanted or invoked.

The conference will include two panels on the topic of Litterality, and examine how writers use what we normally consider non-linguistic elements, such as symbols, diagrams, maps, or scores placed in the context of writing. Also explored are invented writing systems, and what it might mean to think about the book as an object rather than as a collection of words or sentences.

As in the art world, many kinds of appropriation have been undertaken by experimental writers in the last several years. The panel on Appropriation and Citation will look at these practices, asking questions about whose work and what material gets appropriated, cited or resurrected, who owns texts, and if there is a difference between appropriation and citation.

A panel on The Meaninglessness or -fulness of Language will examine language as a vehicle of meaning. Rather than look at what texts say, it asks if language simply taken on its own is empty, saturated with meaning, both, or something else.

The fifth panel on The Concept of Conceptual Writing, looks at the use of writing not to convey meaning or tell stories but to convey concepts, asking how this might be similar, or not, to the work of conceptual artists in the visual arena.

In addition to the five panels, there will be two evening readings. The participants in the conference are Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, Latasha Diggs, Johanna Drucker, Kenneth Goldsmith, Robert Grenier, Douglas Kearney, Steve McCaffery, Julie Patton, Salvador Plascencia, Jessica Smith, Brian Kim Stefans, Stephanie Taylor, Shanxing Wang and Heriberto Yepez. This event is organized by Matias Viegener and Christine Wertheim of the Writing Program at CalArts, and funded by The Annenberg Foundation.


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