The Electronic Literature Organization's (ELO) 2013 Conference & Media Art Exhibit, entitled "Chercher le texte," hosted 23-28 September in Paris, France by Philippe Bootz, holds great importance to the organization and its community because it represents ELO's keen interest in reaching a global audience and promoting diverse literatures.
Founded in 1999 in Chicago, Illinois by Scott Rettberg, Jeff Ballowe, and Robert Coover, ELO quickly established itself as the American organization aimed at promoting born digital literature. It followed the establishment of other like-minded groups and communities that emerged during the time, like the trAce Online Writing Centre in the UK (1995-2005), and developed alongside others, like Hermaneia in Spain (1999-). By 2002 when ELO held its first symposium, the ELO State of the Arts at UCLA, it drew an international audience from the Canada, the UK, Norway, Finland, and Mexico. Its next symposium, The Future of Electronic Literature, held five years later at the University of Maryland College Park, was hosted by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. Over 120 scholars and artists from the U.S., Canada, Norway, Germany, and Spain, participated in the two-day event. When the organization held its first open conference and media art festival in 2008, Visionary Landscapes at Washington State University Vancouver, it drew 121 participants from 19 different countries, representing five continents. Following that conference the ELO Board of Directors decided to host a conference every two years. This plan held through the 2010 conference at Brown University at Providence, RI and again at the 2012 conference at Morgantown, WV. But it was clear from the growing number of participants coming to the conferences that ELO could indeed sustain an annual event.
Enter Philippe Bootz from the University of Paris 8, who proposed that ELO hold its first annual conference in France. Cherchez le texte: ELO 2013 was a major success with events held at some of the most important venues in the country: La Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Centre Pompidou, L’École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (EnsAD), and Le Cube. After Paris, ELO has held conferences in Bergen, Norway (2015), Victoria, B.C. (2016), Porto, Portugal (2017), and Montréal, Québec (2018), all drawing over 300 participants. Its next conference takes place in Cork, Ireland (2019).
With well over 1600 scholars and artists in its community, ELO promotes a global approach to born digital literature, reflecting works produced on all continents save Antarctica. Additionally it has built affiliations with 13 different organizations across the globe, most recently from the Middle East. Its Board of Directors includes members from North and South America, Europe, and Australia. But it was in 2013 at the annual meeting held in Paris, France, that the ELO Board of Directors put its first two non-American Directors on the Board––Rui Torres (Portugal) and, not surprisingly, Philippe Bootz, the Chair of the ground-breaking Paris conference. ELO's success is inextricably linked to that event, and for that reason, we are pleased to present you with this historical and intellectual artifact, the Proceedings of ELO 2013.
--By Dene Grigar, President, ELO, 2013-2019