Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Avant-garde in French means front guard, advance guard, or vanguard. People often use the term in French and English to refer to people or works that are experimental or novel, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.
According to its champions, the avant-garde pushes the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm within definitions of art/culture/reality.
The vanguard, a small troop of highly skilled soldiers, explores the terrain ahead of a large advancing army and plots a course for the army to follow. This concept is applied to the work done by small bands of intellectuals and artists as they open pathways through new cultural or political terrain for society to follow. Due to implied meanings stemming from the military terminology, some people feel the avant-garde implies elitism, especially when used to describe cultural movements.
Thus avant-garde in music may refer to an extreme form of musical improvisation in which little or no regard is given by soloists to any underlying chord structure or rhythm.
The term may also refer to the promotion of radical social reforms, the aims of its various movements presented in public declarations called manifestos. Over time, avant-garde became associated with movements concerned with art for art's sake, focusing primarily on expanding the frontiers of aesthetic experience, rather than with wider social reform.
The origin of the application of this French term to art can be fixed at May 17, 1863, the opening of the Salon des Refusés in Paris, organised by painters whose work was rejected for the annual Paris Salon of officially sanctioned academic art. Salons des Refusés were held in 1874, 1875, and 1886.
By some assessments, avant-garde art includes street art, for example graffiti and any other movement which pushes forward the accepted boundaries.
For instance, whereas Marcel Duchamp's urinal may have been avant-garde at the time, if someone created it again today it would not be avant-garde because it has already been done. Avant-garde is therefore temporal and relates to the process of art's unfolding in time. Duchamp's work retains its distinction as avant-garde even today, because it marks a historical point in the advancement of the conception of art, relative to the period in which it surfaced. Similarly, "avant-garde" can be applied to the forerunners of any new movements.
Avantgarde is an indie rock band based in Spain.
Avantgarde came into existence in the year 2003 when Miguel Goñi (born 1976, Spain), Phillippe D´huart (born 1975, Belgium) and Carlos Piris (born 1976, Spain) sought to record their first album. While recording the music in Madrid, they were looking for a singer. While in a short trip to London, Carlos Piris met Aida Galway (born 1979, USA) at a U2 concert and thanks to their incredibly similar tastes in music they instantly became friends. When Carlos returned to Spain, they began a long distance relationship, writing on regular basis. The band would send songs to Galway and he would practise and mould the songs in London. By year's end had, they decided that Aida would join the group in Spain, rather than moving the whole group to London.
An experimental novel is a written work - often a novel or a magazine that places great emphasis on innovations regarding style and technique.
The first text generally cited in this category is Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. This extraordinary text "pre-breaks" most of the "rules" that would be subsequently advanced for the writing of fiction.
As a "life story" Tristram Shandy is utterly impractical, spending the first half on trying to have the titular hero be born, and on utterly irrelevant digressions about the narrator's father, his Uncle Toby, and anybody else within range of the narrative. Suddenly the narrative leaps forward by decades, and the narrator is seen near the end of his life, riding a coach at breakneck speed across France, trying to escape Death.
In its postmodern approach to narrative, and its willingness to use such graphic elements as an all-black page (for mourning) and a page of marbled end-paper within the text, Sterne's novel is a foundational text for many post-World War II authors. But alongside the experimental novel, critical attacks on the experimental novel are also to be found at this early period. Samuel Johnson, for instance, is quoted in Boswell as saying "The merely odd does not last. Sterne did not last."
Almost as early is Denis Diderot's Jacques the Fatalist and His Master
Ergodic literature is literature that requires a "non-trivial effort" to traverse the text. This effort must be extranoematic, that is, it must consist of more than simply reading by moving one's eyes along lines of text, turning pages and mentally interpreting what one reads. The term was coined by Espen Aarseth in his book Cybertext--Perspectives on Ergodic Literature, and is derived from the Greek words ergon, meaning "work" and hodos, meaning "path". The most commonly cited definition of ergodic is from pages 1-2 of Aarseth's book:
In ergodic literature, nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text. If ergodic literature is to make sense as a concept, there must also be nonergodic literature, where the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no extranoematic responsibilities placed on the reader except (for example) eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages.
Cybertext is a subcategory of ergodic literature that Aarseth defines as "texts that involve calculation in their production of scriptons." (Cybertext, page 75) Thus, hypertext fiction of the simple node and link variety is ergodic literature but not cybertext. A non-trivial effort is required for the reader to traverse the text, as the reader must constantly select which link to follow, but a link, when clicked, will always lead to the same node. A chat bot such as ELIZA is a cybertext because when the reader types in a sentence, the text-machine actually performs calculations on the fly that generate a textual response (ELIZA is categorised as a cybertext on page 75 and in figure 3.2). The I Ching is likewise a cybertext because it contains the rules for its own reading. The reader actually carries out the calculation, but the rules are clearly embedded in the text itself. It has been argued that these distinctions are not entirely clear, and scholars still debate the fine points of the definitions of ergodic literature and cybertext. 
One of the major innovations of the concept of ergodic literature is that it is not medium-specific. New media researchers have tended to focus on the medium of the text, stressing that it is for instance paper-based or electronic. Aarseth broke with this basic assumption that the medium was the most important distinction, and argued that the mechanics of texts need not be medium-specific. Ergodic literature is not defined by medium, but by the way in which the text functions. Thus, both paper-based and electronic texts can be ergodic: "The ergodic work of art is one that in a material sense includes the rules for its own use, a work that has certain requirements built in that automatically distinguishes between successful and unsuccessful users." (Cybertext, p 179)
The examples Aarseth gives include a diverse group of texts: wall inscriptions of the temples in ancient Egypt that are connected two-dimensionally (on one wall) or three dimensionally (from wall to wall or room to room); the I Ching; Apollinaire’s “calligrammes” in which the words of the poem “are spread out in several directions to form a picture on the page, with no clear sequence in which to be read”; Ayn Rand’s play Night of January 16th, in which members of the audience form a jury that chooses one of two endings; Marc Saporta’s Composition No. 1, Roman, which is a novel with shuffleable pages; Raymond Queneau’s One Hundred Thousand Million Poems; B. S. Johnson’s The Unfortunates; Milorad Pavic’s Landscape Painted with Tea; Joseph Weizenbaum’s ELIZA; Will Crowther and Don Woods’s Adventure; James Meehan’s Tale-spin; William Chamberlain and Thomas Etter’s Racter; Michael Joyce’s afternoon: a story; Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle’s Multi-User Dungeon (aka MUD1); and James Aspnes’s TinyMUD. With the exception of Tale-spin, where a program generates a linear text, all these examples can be said to require non-trivial effort from the reader, who must participate actively in the construction of the text. It has been argued that the effort required to read Apollinaire's calligrammes is not .
The concepts of cybertext and ergodic literature were of seminal importance to new media studies, in particular literary approaches to digital texts and to game studies.