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Kosmopolis 2004



Hypertext brought into play

Hiperiment is not an exhibition but an experimental space that brings into play the different conceptions, genealogies, dilemmas, treatments and promises of the Hypertext as a cognitive and creative tool. It can be visited as a hybrid environment inspired by the changes that are taking place in classrooms, laboratories and libraries (as spaces of learning and understanding) and in the mutations of the various public places devoted to intelligent leisure.

Hiperiment. The Hypertext in Play is located on the planta -1 basement level of the CCCB and is organized in the following sections:

1. Introduction. What is a hypertext?
2. Myths of interactivity
3. The text-hypertext continuum
4. The search for the engaged reader
5. Utopias à la carte

A special audio-visual programme and the lectures by Robert Coover and Theodor H. Nelson, as part of Kosmopolis 04, complete the Hiperiment project.


L'homme qui voulait classer le Monde
Françoise Levie, 2002, France-Belgium, 60', OCVS

Douglas Adams, 1990, England, 60', OVSS

A Technical Overview of the Xanadu Electronic Storage and Publishing System
Project Xanadu - Theodor Holm Nelson, 1986, USA, 15', OVSS

Tulips at Dawn
Rosie Pedlow, 2002, England, 4', OVSS

The Reading Room
Stephen Connolly, 2003, England, 3', OCVS

Curators: David Casacuberta, Juan Insua

This activity is part of Kosmopolis 2004, Kosmopolis

1. Introduction. What is a hypertext?
This section puts forward various definitions of hypertext on the basis of its contents and technology. The variety suggests a first cognitive play in which the instrument being analysed posits ramifications that range from Ramelli's Wheel to the definitions offered by Nelson, Landow, Barthes or Coover.

2. Myths of interactivity
The aim of this section is to suggest a demythologizing of the concept of interactivity that has become a cultural touchstone in the last twenty-odd years. Computers are neither necessary nor sufficient guarantors of interactivity. The non-sequential reading of a work and the notion of a ‘hypertextual' (or multimedia) work may well be much older than we imagine, and ‘interactivity' itself may be a natural attribute of all living things.

Interactivity is a psychological (or cognitive) rather than a technological category
A book can be at least as interactive as a computer
A computer can be at least as interactive as a book
Real interactivity transforms the experience of reading
All living creatures are naturally interactive

3. The text-hypertext continuum
Theorists and thinkers such as Barthes, Foucault and Deleuze alerted us long since to ‘a space of multiple dimensions in which various writings correspond and contrast with one another'. In these terms, any text can lead to a hypertext : in other words, to a mesh, rhizome or machine to be tested out in multiple connection with other books and other writings.

The section presents a short ‘canon' of hypertextual fiction, an approach to the new generation of hypertextual practices, genres and works and a heterodox bibliography on the theorists, writers and artists who have, in their different ways, embraced or anticipated the hypertextual adventure.

The hypertext as a simple formal exercise in avant-gardism is of no real interest
The hypertext is not necessarily a new way of contemplating literature
The hypertext is a cognitive tool
The hypertext is an instrument of the third culture

4. The search for the engaged reader
The search for an active, creative and engaged reader is a constant that runs from Sterne, Cervantes and Diderot to Carroll, Joyce, Pessoa, Borges, Perec, Cortázar and Calvino. While it is true that the attempt to break away from the author-reader duality is one of the premises of the hypertext, a considerable number of writers, both classical and modern, have paved the way in this. At the same time, the question remains as to the degree of freedom that authors allow their readers and whether the emergence of a new audience of engaged readers will pave the way for hypertextual works that keep their promises.

There is no author without a reader
Every reader constructs their own author
Every reader is inter-hyper textual
Every author is inter-hyper textual
An engaged, active reader, capable of reformulating and completing meanings and proposals
The search for the engaged reader has an illustrious history

5. Utopias à la carte
The freedom of interpretation, participation and creation promised by the hypertext can be thought of not only as a formal resource, but also as an attempt to explore other ways of thinking and being in the world in the era of knowledge and information. Hypertexts are tools for reflecting on our society in a complex and open way. This section presents a variety of digital utopias based on the hypertext, on a free distribution of information and on alternative structures for personal and collective creativity.

The hypertext allows us to CONCEIVE a poetics of totality
The hypertext is an instrument for embracing complexity
The hypertext is a tool of freedom
The hypertext stimulates a fluid, multiple and open rationality
The hypertext is a tool of the freedom
You are a hypertext inside a hypertext inside a hypertext welcome to the hyperworld: is the hypertext hyper?


Personal web logs that intersect with one another to build up communities, passing on contacts and information, etc., between bloggers.

Book Crossing
Reading and distributing books in the open air, organized from a virtual community on the Internet.

Creative Commons
An alternative model of intellectual property that enables collective creation, the revising of texts by new authors, the possibility of appropriating the material for personal non-commercial uses, etc.

Exploiting computer/system faults as an alternative form of creativity that humanizes machines.

E-Mail Art
Although there were already networks of artists creating collectively and distributing their works outside of the established mechanisms even before the Internet, the Net has certainly expanded such activities.

Also known as bootlegs. Created by DJs who use the Internet to access immense libraries of music and generate new songs by mixing together two apparently incompatible originals. These creations are, in turn, distributed via the Internet.

Multi-user domains or parallel worlds based on text, in which the users adopt a new role, personality, physical characteristics, etc. There are MUDs and MU*s to suit all tastes, from epic fantasy to Sado-masochism.

Previous activities

Robert Coover

Cave Writing: New Adventures in Mot-Town


Theodor Holm Nelson

The Future of Electronic Literature

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