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    IAF INTERFICTIONS ONLINE INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN ends above target goal

    Thanks to 277 generous backers for our Interfictions Indiegogo Campaign, we raised $10,318 by the time our campaign ended at midnight, July 14th, 2014.  When we launched on June 3rd, we were staggered to find donations doubling almost daily, until after about 3 weeks we had reached our original target goal of $8,500, and were able to move on to our Stretch Goal of $10,000.

    Which means we not only get to publish Interfictions Online for another year, but we can pay our contributors at higher rates now, rates more in line with the effort and talent that innovation requires. Thank you, each and every one of the 277 generous donors who stepped forward to say that interstitial art is valued and valuable. The number of people is as important as the number of dollars raised. We are awed by your generosity.
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    INTERFICTIONS issue #3 is up online!

    The editors of Interfictions Online are happy to announce the birth of the journal’s latest issue, on May 22, 2014!

    The Spring 2014 issue’s non-fiction offerings include Mark Craddock’s poignant collage in Aerial Acrobatics and Gender Reassignment Surgery – A How-To Guide, while Inda Lauryn’s Parallels and Transitions splices analysis of contemporary female vocalists into a graduate school memoir. Isabel Yap’s Life Is Not a Shoujo Manga speaks for itself. And in an interview with Jeff VanderMeer and Jeremy Zerfoss, the two creators discuss their illustrated guide to writing, Wonderbook.

    The fiction offerings remix tropes from ghosts to automata, with new work by Richard Butner, Su-Yee Lin, Kat Howard, Tade Thompson and S. Craig Renfroe Jr.

    Several of the poems in this issue reimagine older narratives: Sridala Swami’s AI Winter draws on the Mahabharata, Sonya Taaffe’s Double Business on Hamlet, and Mary Alexandra Agner’s Hypothesis Between Your Ribs on the brief life of Charles Darwin’s daughter.

    [...]

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  • Meet the IAF: Geoffrey Long.
    by Geoffrey | March 2nd, 2010 |
    Geoffrey Long

    As I noted in my previous post, the IAF is celebrating the interstitiality of March with a month-long series of blog posts sharing interstitial works, essays, profiles of IAF members, and other delightful discoveries! Since this was largely my idea, I volunteered to kick off the series by being the first IAF Executive Board member to be profiled.

    Who are you, and what do you do?

    My name is Geoffrey Long, and as Walt Whitman said, “I contain multitudes.” In addition to serving on the Executive Board for the IAF, right now I’m a researcher and the Communications Director for the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, which is a research project of the Comparative Media Studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I’m also a writer, a media analyst, a scholar, and a creative consultant, with my main area of expertise being transmedia storytelling, or the art of crafting stories that span across multiple media. I’ve also been a filmmaker, a magazine editor, a poet, an artist, a web producer, a user interface designer, and a whole bunch of other things. Given all of this, my attraction to the interstitial arts is a no-brainer.

    What first attracted you to the interstitial arts?

    As an English major in college, I used to rail against what I perceived as the closed-minded tyranny of English professors who looked down their noses at so-called “genre” writers. As I’ve gotten older and spent more time in academia (and in information architecture), though, I’ve come to see both sides of the argument. Genres can be seen as traditions, and it’s a lot easier to judge something (or grade a piece of writing) by how closely it hews to accepted traditional forms while still elaborating on those forms in interesting ways. The borders between genres have been erected for the same reasons as the borders between academic departments – it provides comfortable, reliable ways to evaluate things against a well-established set of criteria. Traditional “literature” is a genre: it has to explore the human condition without venturing outside of the real (and, if scholars like Terry Eagleton are to be believed, must do so while passing down the beliefs of the dominant culture). Consider how quickly we think of things like Sense and Sensibility or Moby-Dick when we say “traditional literature”, and you’ll see my point.

    Once I understood this, I started to realize something else: a lot of academics thrive by learning everything they possibly can about one extremely narrow area of specialization, which is why being tasked with evaluating that which falls outside of that area becomes problematic. As John G. Cawelti argued in his 1977 book Adventure, Mystery and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture, works of every genre – so-called ‘literary’ fiction, romance, sci-fi, Westerns, crime noir, mysteries, and so on – are evaluated by the twin criteria of how closely they adhere to the traditional formulas of their type and how they make interesting innovations within those constraints. In order to understand how something innovates within the traditions of its genre, you have to understand those traditions – and a lot of people find it’s easier to write off entire genre as purely derivative and unimaginative rather than taking the time to understand its traditions and, thus, appreciate its nuances. This is why fans of each genre frequently view other genres they don’t understand as lazy, formulaic and uninteresting. That’s what bugs me now. I understand the reasoning behind it and the psychological utility of it, but seeing this closed-mindedness practiced by academics who are supposed to be ‘professional intellectuals’ strikes me as the ultimate form of intellectual laziness and hypocrisy.

    Conversely, it’s the intellectual curiosity, experimentalism and sense of playfulness that attracts me to the interstitial arts. To my mind, interstitiality is not only the state of existing between categories, but across them as well. A fantastically interstitial work can either draw upon elements of other genres to bring new ideas into an otherwise traditional framework through a form of intellectual cross-pollination, or it can explode those traditions altogether. Interstitial work can ignore traditions, deliberately upend traditions or sample from a broad number of traditions at will, creating something new and wonderful and strange.

    Long story short, when I first met Ellen Kushner and heard her speak about the IAF, I knew I had to get involved.

    How do you consider your work interstitial?

    Although I love literature and I knew I wanted to continue on in academia, after finishing my bachelor’s degree I struggled for years to find an academic program where I could do my graduate work. I finally found it in the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT, where I wrote my Master’s thesis on transmedia storytelling under the guidance of Henry Jenkins (who not coincendatally wrote the foreword to Interfictions 2). Transmedia stories unfold across multiple media, utilizing, ignoring or tweaking the unique characteristics of each medium as they go – which are, of course, the very things that Comparative Media Studies attempts to understand, and what interstitial artists frequently use as their playthings. What makes a comic a comic? What makes a romance a romance? When is a game not a game? Those are the things that interest me the most, and where I believe the most fantastic advances are being made. It’s not a coincidence that I met Ellen through Henry.

    Happily, I think that in the past decade our entire culture has become largely interstitial. The Internet has exploded the very notion of pop culture, giving rise to an infinite array of niches and communities where people can share their experimental creations with one another. The remix culture that has grown out of ubiquitous cheap, accessible media tools is rife with all kinds of interstitial- type thinking, resulting in new subcultures like steampunk and the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies craze. Global interconnectivity gives us books like Kazu Kibuishi’s Flight anthologies, with young artists blending American sensibilities with those learned from Asian manga and anime. The rise of maker culture, as evidenced by MAKE magazine and the increasing popularity of 3-D printers and skyrocketing interest in assembly toys like LEGOs, suggests that our culture is pushing this remix concept past the digital and into the physical. I think that at some deep, almost subliminal level, the Internet is rewiring our brains to make more connections, to make them faster, and to more easily cognitively leap from concept to concept. We’re a pretty interstitial culture now, but our grandkids’ culture is going to be absolutely fantastic.

    Some critics scoff at the IAF because we don’t drive stakes in the ground and attempt to cordon off a section of emerging behavior as our movement. I think those critics are missing the point. Emerging, experimental, creative thinking has always been interstitial, and it always will be. Cubism was interstitial until it became established enough to be recognized as cubism; so was impressionism, so was grunge music, so was fusion cuisine, so was steampunk. To my mind, the IAF exists to encourage people to experiment, to break apart and recombine, to play with traditions and genres and materials and share their creations with each other, to collaborate with one another, and to sow the seeds of whatever comes next. It’s folklore, it’s outsider culture, it’s bashing something weird together in a garage, it’s invention, it’s art.

    As an academic, I’m interested in understanding the aesthetics and mechanics of all of this – what the unique characteristics of each genre or medium happen to be, how they can be diassembled and recombined, and how people are both doing so and making sense of what others have created. As a storyteller, I’m interested in playing with all of it myself. It’s that mash-up of interdisciplinary theory and practice which I think makes for a great interstitial scholar. (If I could find one, I’d have a bust of Umberto Eco up on my shelf.) Think, create, analyze, build, and above all, be playful, be curious, and never be afraid of things that are outside of your discipline. And for God’s sake, don’t be closed-minded – that’s just lazy.

    (For more about me, you can check out my IAF profile page or my website at www.geoffreylong.com.)

    finish line

    2 Responses to “Meet the IAF: Geoffrey Long.”

    1. Deborah Atherton Says:

      I think your focus on playfulness is key to the spirit of IAF, Geoff – and you’re right, creative thinking has always been interstitial. Even to innovate within a genre, you have to be able to play with the restrictions – and to try to exist outside genre, you have to play even harder. Thanks!

    2. Geoffrey Says:

      Thanks, Deborah!

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