Writing as a digital practice

[This is an excerpt transcribed from the interview to Elisa Sbaragli and Sara Sguotti: you can find the video interview here]

Giovanni: You have both mentioned the use of tools related to digital media. You thought about the possibilities that these tools provide, their affordances, that is, what they allow you to do, for example, to record notes on the move, voice notes or to write on your mobile phone. On the other hand, think about what digital media does to the practice of writing. This way of writing allows you to do some things but prevents you from doing others, i.e., that it creates constraints in a material sense. 

Sara: For me, the only constraint is precisely that of the physical memory of the written act. By physical memory, I mean the emphasis that I can still have in writing by hand, or to retrace and also to recollect the memory of what I wrote. When I was little and I went to school it was very important for me to rewrite what I read, even using colours. This is the thing that I miss the most now. Writing in a digital sense is certainly more immediate and easier, and it also opens up other worlds, but, in my case, I don’t always have the right tools. There are other tools, such as the graphic tablet, things that I don’t have and I can’t afford. I don’t have the tools to recreate the bodily memory of writing, and I see this as a limit for me in my work in terms of digital writing. Of course, the digital domain opens up other doors: for example, I have recently been working with someone with Parkinson’s disease. She does not have the opportunity to write without a digital instrument and, being a poet, for her writing is an integral and fundamental part of her artistic practice. Her writing practice is a digital practice. She uses voice dictation a lot, for example, which I’ve never used. There are so many instruments that I am unfamiliar with, but they could enrich the practice of dance even more.

Elisa: For me too, as Sara says, it is precisely the gestures, the materiality of writing, that is, putting oneself out there with the pen and activating the body to the written word, preparing it for a job which is often also very physical. When I was studying, I would also record everything in the book. Doing this in terms of my movement practice has always been something that I have engaged in. Perhaps through technology I have put in place a way of writing that in my practice is dedicated more than anything else to ‘informing’ the other, whatever this means. Digital writing for me is one way of ‘writing for the other’, while the analogic way of writing is more meant for myself. The thing that I find fascinating is to be able to easily create connections with images or other texts, to create patchworks that become a richer material of connections than writing with ‘pen and paper’. There is also a time issue: time is much tighter now and the present seems to be speeding ahead even more quickly. This invites me to use faster tools, which help me to create connections and more quickly to let people know about what I’m doing. This issue is actually really relevant for me. Having always reworked my practice through a very material form of writing, whilst also keeping a paper archive, I now find myself more and more seated in front of a computer. I question why I’m working this way.

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