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Approaching the Real- materiality in digital literature


Digital literature foregrounds its own medium, and it foregrounds the graphic, material aspects of language. Experiments with the new medium and with the form of language are generally presented and interpreted within a framework of the historical avant-garde or the neo-avantgarde. This paper aims to take a new perspective on the emerging digital materiality of language.
The analysis of the work of work that use digitalized handwriting or graffiti-like drawing (for example in Jason Nelson, the digital artist of hybrid works between games, literature and video) leads to the conclusion that the effect of this materiality is an ambivalent relation to affect, reality and the body.
In other words: an ‘absent presence’ is foregrounded. The paradoxical and spectral merging of presence and absence makes these forms of digital literature an expression of a specifically late postmodernist stance towards representation of the ‘real’. Complicity with the media-culture goes hand in hand with an ironic approach of the mediatedness of the world and the body.