In the Spotlight: Gregory Ulmer

Closing off the second day of the conference, Gregory Ulmer will bring the discussion into the digital world by intervening through online video conferencing. Ulmer is Professor of English and Media Studies at the University of Florida and is a new media theorist widely recognized for books as Applied Grammatalogy (1985) and Internet Invention: From Literacy to Electracy (2003). Drawing from Derrida’s theories, Ulmer has coined the concept of “electracy” to designate the transformative change from a culture of print literacy to a digital culture: “electracy is to digital media what literacy is to print,” as Ulmer famously put it, point to the knowledge skills and new media literacy necessary to understand and make full use of electronic and digital media. As a visual abstract for his talk, Gregory Ulmer proposed the following apparatus sheet charting the transition from orality to literacy to electracy.



In the Spotlight: Markku Eskelinen

A conference such Poetics of the Algorithm could not have attempted to map out the digital without focusing on video games. For the occasion, one of the founders of Game Studies, Markku Eskelinen, will give a keynote address –“Cybertextuality in 3D”– revisiting his recent book Cybertext Poetics: The Critical Landscape of New Media Literary Theory (2012). Eskelinen is an independent scholar and experimental writer of ergodic prose and critical essays. He is also one of the founding editors of Game Studies, an international journal of computer game research.

Following Eskelinen’s keynote, a panel will be devoted to game design and narratology, an area that Eskelinen also repeatedly explored. Fanny Barnabé, from the Liège Game Lab, will give some perspectives on narration in video games, drawing from her book Narration et jeu vidéo (2014). Mark Johnson will present on research carried out with Darren Reed, both at the University of York: besides being a post-doctoral researcher, Mark Johnson is also a game developer and holder of arcade gaming word records. Finally, David Myers, the author of The Nature of Computer Games, will be presenting on the notion of “possible worlds” within video games. A rich overview of cutting-edge approaches to narrative and video games and great discussions to look forward to!

Image credit: Mark R. Johnson

In the Spotlight: Sarah Kember

On the second day of the conference, we will be delighted to hear Sarah Kember give a keynote address based on her new book iMedia: The Gendering of Objects, Environments and Smart Materials, ‘hot’ off the Palgrave digital press. Pursuing Kember’s interest in the connexions between biological life and new media, feminism and technology, the book proposes to bring in a queer feminist perspective to the current analyses of ‘smart’ objects and media, revealing how gendered our ideas and celebrations of these objects are. The book is a lively manifesto in line with her “Notes Towards a Feminist Futurist Manifesto” (2012). Elaborating on these issues, she will pose the question “What or where is the i in iMedia?” during her talk in Liège:

“If the poetics of the algorithm are not post (as in, after) human and we do not seek to substitute structure for scale, epistemology for ontology, relations for objects, environments and materials as things-in-themselves (OOPs!) then we must maintain a sense of perspective and ask who, as well as what is writing – and to what end? If iMedia are currently being unmediated, rendered transparent and autonomous in an iworld that just is/coming soon, then a queer, feminist, writerly perspective might offer the prospect of iMedia otherwise.”

In the Spotlight: WREK

Pendant la journée du 15 juin, l’Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Liège, grâce à l’organisation de Paul Mahoux, accueillera un WREKshop d’Olivier Deprez, Miles O’Shea et Marine Penhouët, un atelier de (cinémato)gravures que suivra une dizaine d’étudiants. Le soir, le collectif WREK présentera ses travaux à l’Université de Liège, avec une projection du film Après la mort, après la vie et de quelques autres cinématogravures. La projection sera accompagnée de commentaires par Olivier Deprez et Aarnoud Rommens.

Écrivant à propos de la pratique d’Olivier Deprez dans un article de 2008 pour Relief, “La bande dessinée nouvelle dont Olivier Deprez et d’autres membres du groupe Fréon/Frémok s’imposent aujourd’hui comme des représentants majeurs, est donc bien autre chose que le ‘roman graphique’ ou la revalorisation littéraire et culturelle d’une pratique populaire et commerciale longtemps méprisée. Les changements de l’ancien média que l’on a pu diagnostiquer dans cet article touchent à la fois aux signes, aux supports comme aux contenus de la bande dessinée, qui s’oriente en plus vers des usages et des structures médiatiques insoupçonnées –mais cependant déjà là dans le travail d’Olivier Deprez.” Cette exploration aux confins des limites de la bande dessinée est peut-être plus vrai aujourd’hui que jamais dans le travail de Deprez et de ses comparses qui mélange bande dessinée, gravure, cinéma, photographie et performance, interrogeant les frontières médiatiques et redéfinissant l’espace entre image-fixe et image-en-mouvement comme celui d’un entre-deux où se jouent de nouvelles pratiques et de nouvelles formes.

Image: gravure par Olivier Deprez

In the Spotlight: Ilan Manouach

Greek (comics) artist Ilan Manouach will be our first keynote speaker at the Poetics of the Algorithm conference, where he will present his ‘Shapereader’ project (see, which explores a ground-breaking form of tactile storytelling. Throughout his varied projects, which include Situationist-like détournements of popular comics from Maus to The Black Smurfs, Ilan Manouach’s work has continuously raised the core issues of the digital and ‘unidentified’ media that the conference seeks to map out.

As Bill Kartalopoulos wrote in World Literature Today, “Externalization, improvisation, systems, and collaboration: these ideas and more inform the decentered approach that runs through Manouach’s mature work. In all their diverse manifestations, Manouach’s comics undercut both the protagonist-based model of classical narrative and the author-expression mode of traditional creative production.” While not working in digital media proper, Manouach’s work, with its relentless defamiliarization and reliance on collaborative creative processes, foregrounds approaches to art and narrative that are clearly in tune with this changed media ecology.

Most of Manouach’s comics have been put out by Belgian publisher La Cinquième Couche.

Conference Programme

Images (c) Richard McGuire. Used with permission. 

The conference does not require advance registration (except the WREKshop). It is a free event and completely open to the public. 

Wednesday 15 June

Conference opening event: WREKshop by Olivier Deprez & Miles O’Shea
9h-17h, organized by Paul Mahoux, Académie des Beaux-Arts de Liège   (registrations closed)

20h – WREKshop Projection: Après la mort, après la vie and other ‘cinématogravures’, with comments by Olivier Deprez and Aarnoud Rommens – Salle Lumière, Université de Liège

Thursday 16 June

8h30-9h – Welcome and registration

9h-9h30 – Introduction by Aarnoud Rommens, Björn-Olav Dozo & Benoît Crucifix

9h30 – 11h30 – Thinking about Digital Comics through Practice

  • Nicolas Labarre (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne), “The Users of Comics as Scholarship”
  • Anthony Rageul (Université Rennes 2, artist), “De la jubilation de concevoir des ‘récits-interfaces’”
  • Daniel Merlin Goodbrey (University of Hertfordshire), “Choose the Format of the Destructor: Design Choices for Comic Creators in Print and Digital Media”
  • Yannis La Macchia (graphic artist), “Narration par fragments”

Coffee break

Ilan Manouach
“Shapereader: Tactile Storytelling for the Visually Impaired”

Lunch (room A2/5/6)

14h-15h30 – Bande dessinée numérique : esthétique et lecture

  • Julien Baudry (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne), “Les paradoxes de l’innovation esthétique dans la création numérique en bande dessinée”
  • Magali Boudissa (Université Paris 8), “De l’album à l’écran : enjeux narratifs et esthétiques de la bande dessinée numérique”
  • Jean-Bernard Cheymol (CMI – Université Paris 3), “La vitesse dans 3″ de Marc-Antoine Mathieu”

Coffee break

15h45-17h15 – Comics, Technology and Here

  • Côme Martin (Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV), “Contre ou au-delà de l’imprimé? La bande dessinée numérique à la recherche d’un statut spécifique”
  • Ernesto Priego (City University of London) and Peter Wilkins (Douglas College), “The Question Concerning Comics as Technology: Gestell and Grid”
  • Aarnoud Rommens (Université de Liège), “Weird Media”

Richard McGuire & Stephen Betts
“Digitizing Here

Friday 17 June

9h-9h45 – Digital Practices

  • Loraine Furter (Hybrid Publishing Group), “Hidden Histories, Public Libraries”
  • Robert Rapoport (Leuphana University), “The Poetics of the AI Video Edit: Projection, Synch, Phase”

9h45-11h15 – Networks/Circulation

  • Estelle Dalleu (Université de Strasbourg), “D’un algorithme en résistance : le GIF. À propos de Zac’s Haunted House et Zac’s Control Panel de Dennis Cooper”
  • Dinu Gabriel Munteanu (Nottingham Trent University), “Indeterminate Media and the Poetics of Loss: Architecture, Colour and Mood on Tumblr Microblogs”
  • Vendela Grundell (Stockholm University), “Interfacing Poetics: Glitch Art Transforming Spectatorship”

Coffee break

Johnny Golding (CFAR-Birmingham City University)
“Exquisite Matter: Sensoria, Entanglement and the Roll of the Code (Encountering the Strange Case of 3D Printing)”

Lunch (room A2/5/6)

13h30-14h30 – The Music of Code and Software

  • Jonathan Impett (Orpheus Institute & Middlesex University), “Building with the Unnamable: Code, Music and Operational Discourse”
  • Raffaele Pavoni (Università degli Studi di Firenze), “From Music Videos to Music Algorithms. The Convergence of Software Houses and Record Labels in Chrome Experiments Interactive Music Videos”

Sarah Kember (Goldsmiths, University of London)
“iMedia: What or Where is the i in iMedia?”

Coffee break

15h45-16h45 – Rethinking Interfaces

  • Sylvie Fabre (Université d’Artois), “Du lecteur à l’utilisateur: l’expérience de la lecture sur écran, entre raison graphique et raison numérique”
  • Dane Watkins (Falmouth University), “Smudging the Interface: How Can the Aesthetics of Comics Enhance the Usability of User Interfaces?”

Gregory Ulmer (University of Florida)
“Electracy: the Digital Apparatus”

Saturday 18 June

9h-10h30 – Mediality in the Digital Age

  • Simon Grennan (University of Chester) and Ian Hague (London College of Communications), “Medium, knowledge, structure: capacities for choice and the contradiction of medium-specificity in games and comics”
  • Olivier Crépin (Université Paris 8), “Walking Dead : de l’adaptation à la transmédialité, transformations du rythme du récit et implications”
  • Gert Meesters (Université de Lille), “Bob and Bobette and Digital Enthusiasm. How a Big Comics Publisher in Flanders Put a Lot of Effort into Discrediting His Own Books”

Coffee break

Markku Eskelinen (independent researcher)
“Cybertextuality in 3D: a historical-theoretical-practical framework for re-reading literature”

Lunch (room: A2/5/6)

13h30-14h45 – Game Design and Narratology

  • Victor Cayres, Lynn Alves, Cristhyane Ribeiro (State University of Bahia), “A Game Narrative Development Framework Based on Dramaturgical Analysis Tools”
  • Mark R. Johnson & Darren J. Reed (University of York), “Towards Participatory Game Design”
  • David Myers (Loyola University New Orleans), “Possible Stories and Literal Games”

Gregory Steirer (Dickinson College)
“God from the Machine: Constructing Authorship in Twenty-First Century Interactive Fiction”

Coffee break

16h-17h – Reprocessing Literature Through the Algorithm

  • Martin Zeilinger (Anglia Ruskin University), “Machine-Readable Beckett: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Reading and Performing Quad as Algorithmic Theatre”
  • Philipp Sack (Braunschweig University of Art), “Commodity and thought forms. On ‘Poetry for Robots’”

17h-18h – Oulipo and Digital Avant-Gardes

  • Natalie Berkman (Princeton University), “L’Oulipo numérique”
  • Catherine Lenoble and An Mertens (Algolit), “Exercices de style with algorithms #Digital avant-gardes”

18h-18h30 – Concluding Remarks


Extension of Deadline for Abstract Submissions


Due to numerous requests for an extension for submissions to the Poetics of the Algorithm conference, the organizing committee decided to extend the deadline for the submission of abstracts until January 11, 2016.

We invite you to send proposals for workshops, roundtables, panels, performances, sessions, and paper presentations touching on aspects of the original Call for Papers. 

The process of evaluation is ongoing, and you can expect notification of acceptance by the end of February 2016.

Very much looking forward to receiving your proposals and meeting you in Liège!

Best wishes,
The ACME Research Group <mail> <web>