Our good friend Norman Klein--author of the amazing The Vatican to Vegas: A History of Special Effects--has partnered with Cal Arts' Margo Bistis to create what he calls an "interactive wunder-roman" entitled The Imaginary 20th Century. Following is a guest post by Norman detailing this impressive and characteristically eccentric project; You can also find out more by clicking here.
In 1816, a letter by the philosopher Friedrich Schelling describes a novel that runs on wooden and iron gears, propelled by a river, like an early industrial loom. He called it a wunder-roman. This year, an interactive wunder-roman has been published online, and may be the largest archival novel to date-- of rare print curiosities-- certainly the largest in story form that can be navigated as if one were operating a giant machine. Here is an introduction:
According to legend, in 1902, a woman named Carrie, while traveling through Europe, selects four men to seduce her, each with a version of the coming century. Inevitably, the future always spills off course. We navigate through the suitors’ worlds; follow Carrie on her travels; discover what she and her lovers forgot to notice. In 1917, Carrie’s uncle sets up a massive archive of her life. For decades, Uncle Harry had worked for the oligarchs of Los Angeles erasing crimes that might prove embarrassing. Thus, as he often explains, seduction is a form of espionage. In 2004, this archive was unearthed in Los Angeles.
The Imaginary 20th Century is a tale of seduction as well as espionage; of archiving and the transitive poetics of excavation. Featuring a narrated media archive of 2,200 rare images with a companion ebook, The Imaginary 20th Century is a collaborative work by Norman M. Klein and Margo Bistis, and published by the media museum ZKM. With their team of artists and designers, the authors have reinvented Schelling’s wunder-roman as online narrative engine, where fact and fiction split off and return to each other to the story in a unique form.
You can visit at http://imaginary20thcentury.com,
- The Imaginary 20th Century, ebook cover.
- The Imaginary 20th Century, media archive, image cluster in chapter 3.2
- The Imaginary 20th Century, media archive, 1.2 chapter map