The Death of the Authors, 1941 edition by Constant (An Mertens, Femke Snelting) is part of the exhibition “Print error / publishing in the digital age” proposed by Alessandro Ludovico, for the Jeu de Paume virtual space.
The copyright expiration of a literary work is not anymore a mere economical/bureaucratic event for the authors’ heirs, but a worldwide cultural event. The definitive liberation of the original text in its conversion to a digital form, fully authorised by the finally granted copyright expiration, is celebrated then by an infinite duplication and distribution all over the networks. This event inspired the Belgian collective Constant to create a proper digital process to enhance its artistic value. They wrote a generative software that generates a novel based on texts by Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Rabindranath Tagore, Elizabeth Von Arnim, Sherwood Anderson and Henri Bergson, freely downloadable from a webpage once finished. All these authors died in 1941, so the copyright of their whole work expired on the first of January 2012 (after seventy years). This literary gesture handles the texts in an automatic and free awe way. It’s the result of a purely remix practice, but totally governed by software. The author’s content becomes then magmatic and ethereal, reborn and archived at every new generation. The respective authors are somehow back with their whole style and in an unpublished, unexpected and ever changing collaboration.
Constant is a non-profit association, an interdisciplinary arts-lab based and active in Brussels since 1997.
Constant works in-between media and art and is interested in the culture and ethics of the World Wide Web. The artistic practice of Constant is inspired by the way that technological infrastructures, data-exchange and software determine our daily life. Free software, copyright alternatives and (cyber)feminism are important threads running through the activities of Constant.
Constant organizes workshops, print-parties, walks and ‘Verbindingen/Jonctions’-meetings on a regular basis for a public that’s into experiments, discussions and all kinds of exchanges.