Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Blogging from the Page to the Stage

It isn't only the television networks that are appropriating the digital media who have already long ago cannibalized the mainstream entertainment spectrum; "High art" is also turning its sights to focus on activity in the blogosphere.

Yesterday's Los Angeles Times covered not one but two stories about fictionalized blogs in their entertainment section. "Weaving a Tangled Web" reviews the online novel for Slate magazine by Walter Kirn. The evolving product, The Unbinding, uses the serial format like many of its 18th and 19th century predecessors. As electronic writing about electronic writing, Kirn's digital novel skewers the primary narcissism of the blog genre as well:

He’d confessed to her that he’d been reading my online journals (Hi, Rob! Come back to the gym for a long sauna!) as part of a “hush-hush effort” at Vectonal to perfect a new telecom product known as MeNet that would compete with AidSat in the market for “Seamless life-assistance interfaces.” I didn’t call Jesse back, of course, maintaining my wall-ish impenetrability, but it was hard to contain my curiosity after she informed me in another call that Rob had drowsed off one afternoon during an in-room couple’s hot-stones massage and muttered the name “Aguirre.” Jesse knew of the film from the printouts of my diaries, so she confronted Rob when he woke up and was warned—with a vehemence that she said alarmed her—that any more questions relating to me, my writings, AidSat, MeNet, or Rob’s Vectonal job would land her in “grievous bureaucratic peril,” beginning with registered letters from the authorities about her chronic underreporting of tips during her career at Outback Steakhouse.

"Copy. Paste. Act." declares the other Los Angeles Times story, "Live Action Blogs," in its opening line. This theater review describes the work of Mel Shapiro, who has adapted web materials and blog rhetoric for a dramatic piece about sex, politics, and historical figures from Marie Antoinette to Angela Davis. Following the headline, I initially thought that the director had used my favorite forums for rhetorical expression, fake blogs by these historical figures as inspiration. Alas, a careful reading of the article and a few Google searches proved that this was not the case. Apparently the group also experimented with improvisation with the Unreal Game Engine and used a wiki format to collaborate.



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