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Artists' Interview Questions

These questions, produced on June 10, 2013 for the interviews with Pathfinders artists, were used as a guide, opting for a more organic approach than a rigid line of questioning.  In following this method, we were able attain candid remarks from artists and tease out heretofore unknown information from the artists' remarks.
1.  History and origins
A. How do you feel about this work?  What’s it like to return to it now, two or three decades after you made it?
B. Where did the project come from?  What made it necessary or compelling to write?
C. What did you think you were doing (then)?  What do you think now?  How did your work resonate with its moment of production?  How does it fit into the present?
2.  Medium, process, metaphor 
A. What made you choose these particular tools (re:  computer, software, system) to create your work?  Did they change the way you developed the piece?  How?  If you could change your tools, what choice would you now make, and why?
B. As an early adopter of writing technology, you were in a position to discover or invent.  What aspects of your work do you consider most innovative?
C. What was your process of creation and composition?  In particular, how did planning (schematics, outlines, technical ideas) intersect with prose writing?
D. Each work we’re looking at has a strong informing (or structural) metaphor:  notebook or database; forking paths or hypertext graph; patchwork, or the monstrous, hybrid body; and the virtual domain of a House (of fun, of cards).  Was this metaphor, or another, present to mind when you made your work?  
E. To extend the question of metaphor:  If all our engagements with information technology tend to be governed by references to earlier media (thinking of operating systems and their ‘desktops’), does your work itself represent a trope or metaphorical turn on or from paper-based writing?  Could we think of your project as a virtualization of literature?
F. Are figures, concepts, or structural metaphors (whatever you want to call them) useful in understanding electronic writing?  Is there a limit to their significance?
3. Influence
A. Were (or are) any literary influences or intertexts important to your work?  How do you think about the relationship of your project to earlier or contemporary writings?
B. Has your project had influence on later works?  Are there contemporary writers (in or outside the e-lit sphere) with whom you feel sympathy or connection?  Does your electronic work contribute to these relationships?
C. How has your own later work moved on or diverged from this early project?  What influence, if any, has that work had on your career so far?
4. Readers
A. Does your work have an intended reader?  Who is s/he?
B. What would an ideal reading experience of your text be like?
C. You’re probably aware of actual reading experiences with your text.  (How) do they differ from what you imagine(d)?
D. Are there aspects of your work that seem misunderstood, either by ordinary readers or critics?  What are they?  
5. Controversies
A. Allegedly, there is no broad, commercial market for electronic writing.  Some have dismissed this kind of work (especially hypertext) as more fun to make than take, or more interesting to theorists than ordinary readers.  What do you think about these claims?
B. Computational texts complicate the work of reading, perhaps requiring different forms of attention, or even cognition, than most print productions.   Does the experiment with electronic writing reveal a limit beyond which writers should not go?  Or does this kind of writing usefully challenge accepted literary practice?
C. In her book on electronic literature, Kate Hayles regrets a lack of close attention (at the level of prose style, for instance) for new-media work.  Does this seem a problem in reception of your work?  Do electronic texts fall outside the citation stream of criticism and pedagogy?  Are there examples of close reading of your work that you would like to point out?
D. One of the sillier objections to electronic writing was based on hydrophobia (or -philia): you can’t read it in the bathtub!   Does arrival of more convenient and intimate devices – smart phones, tablets, and perhaps wearable glass – raise some hope for electronic writing, or do mobile devices add to a lack of deep/close reading of your work? 
6. Electronic writing, per se
A. To what extent (if at all) do you want to be identified as an electronic writer, or with ongoing work in this area?
B. As all forms of discourse pass into digital mediation, will the term electronic writing become obsolete?  Will it go the way of horseless carriage?  Or is there some core idea or commitment in electronic writing that seems important to sustain?
7. Preservation
A. Is the technical obsolescence of electronic works fundamentally different from vicissitudes of the print cycle?  Is failure of technical accessibility not the same as being out of print?  How should scholars and writers approach preservation?  Do you agree that electronic writing should be preserved even if the archived work itself differs from the original, or do you believe that the ephemerality of the medium is part of the beauty of the electronic medium?

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