e-lit in Norway 2
I promised more on the Norwegian Electronic Literature Organisation. After Scott Rettberg’s talk here in January, Thomas Brevik suggested we start up an organisation for electronic literature in Norway, a Norwegian sister organisation to the Electronic Literature Organisation in the US. Obviously I was eager, and Eirik Newth also joined in. We’re a good trio: Eirik is a well-published and well-known non-fiction author as well as an expert on electronic media who has years of experience with electronic dissemination. Thomas is a librarian with a lot of experience and knowledge about electronic media, libraries, knowledge, archiving and publishing, as well as infectious enthusiam and proliferous ideas. I’m an academic and critic who’s into electronic fiction and non-fiction. So we got together and applied for seed funding from KulturrÂdet, the http://www.kulturrÂdet.no/”>Cultural Fund. (No, the site doesn’t work well on a Mac.)
We got 40,000 kroner, which will largely be spent on organising a seminar in November which will also be where we officially establish the organisation. Hopefully we’ll be able to get enough continuned funding to keep the organisation going.
There isn’t a great deal of Norwegian electronic literature. I think this is at least partially because the Norwegian literary system is not only culturally but financially tied to print publishing. We have a wonderful system for publically funding literature: the state buys 1000 copies of almost every book published in Norwegian. These books go to the libraries, which is great, and something like this is probably necessary to ensure a literary culture in a language that is only spoken by four million people. The only downside of it is that there is no funding for any kind of literature that is not published on paper. In a sense, the innkj¯psordning funds print publication rather than literature.
Visual art has a far stronger tradition of recognising that art can take many forms and is not dependent on any single media. Composers and sound artists are also important contributors to electronic art in Norway. Electronic art in Norway is far from a mass movement, but there are strong, creative and internationally recognised groups: BEK, Atelier Nord, TEKS, PNEK among them. Electronic art is funded through the visual art division of KulturrÂdet, in a section called Ny kunst og teknologi, Art and New Technology. That’s where our seed funding comes from.
I only know of one electronic literature project that tried to get state funding. It was refused art funding because it wasn’t cross disciplinary enough (words and links not being sufficient) and refused literary funding because being on the Internet, it was seen as “an unpublished manuscript” and therefore not fundable. The literary merit of the project wasn’t considered at all.
I’m eager that a Norwegian Electronic Literature Organisation work to inspire writers and artists and critics to create literary (i.e. word-dependent) works for electronic media. I want to do that by gathering information on what electronic literature (fiction and non-fiction) already exists in Norway, inviting electronic writers to read their work and by working towards public funding that doesn’t exclude non-print literature. The organisation will also be working on archival and will probably emphasise non-fiction more than the US Electronic Literature Organisation does. These are fairly long-term goals though, and we’ll be starting slowly.
Here’s the bit from our application where we state our goals:
1. bidra til formidling av norsk elektronisk litteratur gjennom et nettsted som presenterer litteraturen og gjennom Â arrangere opplesninger og foredrag.
2. anspore til produksjon av mer elektronisk litteratur i Norge ved Â gj¯re den allment kjent, ved Â hente inn utenlandske forfattere og ved Â arbeide for likestilling av elektronisk og trykt litteratur.
3. bidra til bevaring av elektronisk litteratur.
Forprosjektet tar sikte pÂ Â gjennomarbeide og vurdere disse delmÂlene.
Translated (I’m not very good at translation, I do better simply writing in one language or the other, and though I mostly wrote this, I find it hard to translate in the same tone):
1. Contribute to the spread of Norwegian electronic literature through a website that presents the literature and by arranging readings and lectures.
2. Encourage the production of more electronic literature in Norway by making it more wellknown, by inviting electronic writers from abroad to Norway and by working for an equal status between electronic and print literature.
3. Contribute to the preservation of electronic literature.
The pre-project will aim to evaluate and finalise these sub-goals.
So in the next months, we’ll be working towards establishing the organisation, deciding what the goals should be and how we should work towards them, working with the Electronic Literature Organisation in the States to decide on how we might cooperate with them (perhaps an affiliation), investigating opportunities for continued funding and planning the seminar in November.
It’ll be fun! Do let us know if you’re interested in particating in some way!