Lancaster University, 20-21 June 2019
Ours Lingages. The internet is my language mother. I speak with a voice that’s not my own, I speak in other voices, not my voice. We are all e-strangers, all nomads that use globish bastard languages. We are the alienated translated (wo)men in-between code and emotion, in-between our wish to be visible and our longing for intimacy. L’entre-deux = void. Can’t we be ‘with’ instead? (Annie Abrahams)
Digital artist and performer Annie Abrahams highlights how living in the digital world transforms not only the language(s) we speak, but also our relationship to language(s) and the relationship between languages, together with our relationships to other people. ‘Networked language practices […] are simultaneously local and transnational’, observes at the same time Jannis Androutsopoulos (2015). The digital space makes it easier for human languages to circulate, coexist, interact, and mix in a fluid and flexible fashion - linguistic borders are not removed, but they have shifted and become more porous.
Language is never alone. Of necessity, digital texts are composed in at least two ‘languages’ and exist by means of perpetual back-and-forth processes of translation between them: a ‘so-called natural language, which is addressed to humans […]; and computer codes, which (although readable by some humans) can be executed only by intelligent machines’ (Hayles 2006). Hayles goes on to argue that ‘in our computationally intensive culture, code is the unconscious of language’.
How can we be ‘with’ languages in their plurality, rather than just in-between them and lost in translation? Digital arts and literature have explored the potential of programmable media to play with and perform linguistic complexity and fluidity both across human languages and between human and machine languages. Everyday users are no less inventive and adventurous in their practices, as they acquire linguistic fragments from the flux, integrate them into their interactions, and create their own hybrid modes of expression.
Following up on our first symposium in March 2018, Multilingual Digital Authorship, this conference will focus on projects, works, and any form of creative digital artefacts online or offline, including anything from individual tweets, instapoems, and status updates to interactions and more complex projects, artworks that consciously experiment with linguistic cross-fertilization – or on the contrary, highlight the dangers of linguistic standardization seeking to supress hybridity. The objective is to explore the creative, cultural, and political potential of encounters amongst digital technologies, languages, and creative practices.
The conference will include an evening of performances open to the general public and will be accompanied by a thematic issue of ZeTMaG.
This conference will be the second and last academic event of a two-year project funded by the Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies AHRC Open World Research Initiative and is part of a series of a series of four conferences on Digital Authorship run in collaboration with Claire Larsonneur of the University of Paris 8. The event benefits from additional support from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and is partnered by the Electronic Literature Organization.
A selection of the conference papers will be published in a special issue of the French-English bilingual Revue Hybrid.