In the summer of 2001 I received and eagerly read the emails that make up Rob Wittig’s Blue Company, an email narrative. I only just discovered that it had a sequel of sorts, or a homage, Kind of Blue, written by Scott Rettberg, sent to a few friends last year, and now available for all of us at trAce, as a web archive of emails. It takes a couple of hours to read and to me, at least, who had read its precursor, it was compelling enough that I read it in a single sitting (sitting inside in the rain). I like these fragmented epistolary stories and the way you piece together a narrative from bits and pieces, with no exposition, rather as we piece together our lives.

Can you imagine how insane these thousands of email messages we shed like dead skin cells will drive the biographers of the future? Haystacks filled with fragments of needles. (from Kind of Blue)

Blue Company is a series of emails from a contemporary man to the woman he loves – but the man is on some bizzarre mission in 14th century Italy and the woman is now, and the practicalities of how on earth he would send emails even if such time travel were possible are never explained. Kind of Blue explains the mysteries left by Blue Company, to some extent, though there are openings if you wish in the three alternate versions of “what happened” offered in the final email. While there’s satisfaction in this resolution (and it’s to some degree condoned by Rob Wittig, author of Blue Company, too, because he contributed to the final email) I find myself missing the openness of the original. Now I’m both satisfied and annoyed at knowing what was really going on.

I asked Scott, over at Grandtextauto, whether he’d thought of contriving some way of publishing Kind of Blue as emails, so that new readers could receive it direct to their inboxes with the same pacing as in the original. He’s answered already.

1 Comment

  1. Scott Rettberg

    Kind of Blue
    **Assignations, Frustrations, Meditations, Lamentations, Revelations, Assassinations** Kind of Blue , the serial email novel I wrote during the Summer of 2002, has just been published by frAme, Journal of Art and Technology at the the trAce online writing

Leave A Comment

Recommended Posts

Triple book talk: Watch James Dobson, Jussi Parikka and me discuss our 2023 books

Thanks to everyone who came to the triple book talk of three recent books on machine vision by James Dobson, Jussi Parikka and me, and thanks for excellent questions. Several people have emailed to asked if we recorded it, and yes we did! Here you go! James and Jussi’s books […]

Image on a black background of a human hand holding a graphic showing the word AI with a blue circuit board pattern inside surrounded by blurred blue and yellow dots and a concentric circular blue design.
AI and algorithmic culture Machine Vision

Four visual registers for imaginaries of machine vision

I’m thrilled to announce another publication from our European Research Council (ERC)-funded research project on Machine Vision: Gabriele de Setaand Anya Shchetvina‘s paper analysing how Chinese AI companies visually present machine vision technologies. They find that the Chinese machine vision imaginary is global, blue and competitive.  De Seta, Gabriele, and Anya Shchetvina. “Imagining Machine […]

Do people flock to talks about ChatGPT because they are scared?

Whenever I give talks about ChatGPT and LLMs, whether to ninth graders, businesses or journalists, I meet people who are hungry for information, who really want to understand this new technology. I’ve interpreted this as interest and a need to understand – but yesterday, Eirik Solheim said that every time […]