Digital Labour:
for Love or Money

frAme 5


TrAce's electronic magazine frAme is devoted to theory and social commentary. This fifth edition, guest edited by Christy Sheffield Sanford, takes as its theme Digital Labour: For Love or Money.

The contributors address the pains and seductions of working with this most absorbing instrument: the computer. We asked if cyber artists and writers cried out in the night for their keyboard as the Marquis de Sade did for his quills. Our contributors responded with charming and harrowing alacrity. We have everything from mez-ianic catacomb-like imaginings to the factory-like visions of Glaros. Michelle tells us what we were afraid to know about operating sans ergonomics and insurance! And Victor Vitanza gives us a web-specific earful of how one's body suffers in tranz-4-mation. But he does it so beautifully. Mazzy lets us glimpse a tessellate collaboration awash in a sea of blues and greens -- a world in which participants blissfully fly blind /via remote control. Lehan Ramsey in the wry role of Scientist of the Future asks How did I get here? What is to be learned from the plastic detritus that lands on our beaches, much less the saran-wrapped information delivered in goggles of zeros and ones. We personalize our very complex computers--Marjorie Luesebrink delightfully illustrates--yet are deviled by uncontrollable glitches and ghosts. Loki93c lays bare the vicissitudes and pleasures of a cyber citizen -- the messages, the new social classes. Fall into the poem by Claire Dinsmore, zoom into the complexity, be blinded by the light.

One of the joys of seeing a group of works is that you begin to pick up themes or recurring threads: visible codes, cellular metaphors, evolutionary allusions, ecclesiastical overtones, cautionary notes--bridge out, corkscrew curves--glimpsed at 140 mph. How much is this in kilometers?

As an added bonus we have an interview by Marjorie Luesebrink with that most prodigious and imaginative digital laborer Reiner Strasser.    

Christy Sheffield Sanford

For a shortcut guide to our current issue, click on the title frAme 5 above. And to read what the authors and artists say about their contributions, please scroll down..



Claire Dinsmore
The Dazzle as Question

"The Dazzle as Question" traces the conflict between the left and right brain inclinations of an erstwhile 'old school' artist as experienced via his encounter with the digital realm. This conflict notes the[digital] media/um's seemingly unrivaled sway as pitted against the narrator's right brain predilections [heralds of an identity within which he was formerly ensconced, as if such were an ethic of his very being .]. The Dazzle . is a lyrical one; it's locutional marks and varied rhythmic emphases are indicative of the particular tones and dialectical nature of the question and confusion underlying this untoward 'love/hate' relationship. The poem is wrought with the haunt of a foreboding caught between fascination and an almost 'big-brother'- like fear of the 'addiction' to which the narrator is succumbing. The noted tendencies of the digital are then marked by the use of text within the piece - it is not easily read, but is rather ghostlike and obscured - thereby signifying the effect of the media/um in erasing/displacing the narrator's words/identity, undermining his marks. The effect is thus abstracted, culminating in an aura, shall we say, which is more "... impressionistic/textural than textual."

Claire Allan Dinsmore is a writer, artist, and the editor and designer of Cauldron & Net: a journal of the arts & new media. She has completed MFA studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art and holds a BFA from Parsons School of Design/The New School for Social Research. Ms. Dinsmore has exhibited worldwide and been published as an artist, critic, essayist and poet. Her work is in the permanent collections of the American Craft Museum, The Smithsonian and The Montreal Museum of Art, as well as within numerous private collections. In 1999 she was selected as a Pushcart Prize nominee. Presently she is a web designer and president of Studio Cleo where she works as a new media artist and indulges herself in such anachronistic pursuits as bookmaking and metalwork.



"The Dazzle as Question" is a Flash work that has been preserved with Ruffle by the Electronic Literature Lab in March 2021.


Michelle Glaros
Digital Labor

Digital Labor addresses a major issue arising from the convergence of technology, the academy and labor: the increasing vocationalization of the liberal arts. The convergence of technology with English or Literature programs often reshapes academic departments into vocational centers where students learn how to function in the digital work world using the software of the day (Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Flash, etc.). Students are being converted directly into labor; a vexing situation considering that this approach seems to guarantee armies of low-wage laborers for emerging digital sweatshops inviting those of us working in the academy to be complicit in their exploitation. This short web-essay focuses on both the intellectual and vocational challenges educators must account for when preparing students for the digital labor market.

Michelle Glaros is an Assistant Professor of English at Dakota State University where she conducts the Electronic Writing Workshop. Her work focuses on inventing, exploring, and promoting an electronic conception of writing for which she proselytizes vigorously. In addition, she fancies herself a sometime digital labor activist. She is the "author" of Being in Pictures, a web-specific writing, and a founding member of the feminist video collective FemTV. Glaros currently engages in work on SunSpots, a web-specific writing that applies certain cinematic techniques to the writing space of the WWW. SunSpots hopes to illuminate some connections between fan writing, invention, and the WWW's "problematics of validity."



"Labour of Love" was originally linked to an external site managed by the artist. Because it's no longer working, this link goes to the work on the Wayback Machine.


Labour of Love

Labour Of Love: the end product is a unique site, constructed by mundane routines, something of a paradox maybe. the viewer can interact with some of the pages, read others, discover areas of repetition to simulate the coding we repeat on every page. there are some observations about the loneliness of the long distance website designer, plus the highs & lows of life in the CyberVerse. the use of a table layout on the front page is suggestive of a data base, there to be interrogated at random. enjoy/dislike/whatever. ~

Loki93c fronted a heavy metal rock group until they hit the 'self-destruct' button. after some time in recovery he traded in his PA system for a PC system & escaped into the CyberVerse. a recluse, he nowa-daze describes himself as a CyberMancer. his observations on the Here & Hard - his Kaosophy - underlay the dark texts & liquid grafix which haunt his website at Cybercide. creator of the Internet's first, iconless, hyper-text deity: Sprague Droop the Unseen. His first work, 'Seriously Drowning' - a disturbing insight into a reality gone insane - may appear in print later this year.




Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink
The Personalization of Complexity

The Personalization of Complexity explores the ways in which each of our personal computers have become idiosyncratic, individualized entities, only sometimes manageable by the owners. Threaded voices question issues of error, malfunction, and intricacy, suggesting that our "user-friendly" appliances are neither universal, simple, nor standard--nor even particularly friendly, any more.

Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink, MFA (M.D. Coverley) writes electronic hypermedia fiction and non-fiction. Her interest in hypertext fiction and web hypermedia dates to 1995, when she published "The Virtual Mausoleum," one of the early web narratives. Her full-length novel, Califia, is available on CD-ROM from Eastgate Systems. Her web short stories and poetry have appeared in Iowa Review Web, BeeHive, Alt-X, frAme, Riding the Meridian, Cauldron and Net, Salt Hill, New River, Enterzone, and Aileron. She curated the collection of women writing on the web with Carolyn Guertin, "The Progressive Dinner Party" (Riding the Meridian, Spring 2000) and a survey of men in web hypermedia, "Jumpin' at the Diner," with Jennifer Ley in the Fall 2000 issue of Riding the Meridian. She is founding member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Association.


"The Blind Tiler's Assistant" was originally linked to an external site managed by the artist. Because it's no longer working, this link goes to the work on the Wayback Machine.


Mazzy, aka Pauline Masurel
The Blind Tiler's Assistant

The Blind Tiler's Assistant is a reflection upon the nature, process and rewards of creative collaboration and digital labour. It was initially inspired by a discussion about programming and writing at the trAce WebBoard in October 1999. With the example, assistance and support of many people who have met and written in that forum it developed to become story, script and mosaic.

Pauline Masurel writes short fiction. Over the past year she has been involved in a number of online writing collaborations. Her work and play with words can be found in a variety of writing projects.


Mez [Mary-Anne Breeze]
datahbabee Vs Narrow][B][randing

_datahbabee Vs Narrow][B][randing_ "...the entry scroll looks like a primal tattoo embedded in the hard wiring of a brain. Intraface with those silky pink lantern lights so sensual, chromosomal, digital--like a neo-primal tapestry. Would make a great weaving. The intraface vs the narrow brande is like being in a cave and you're reading the writing on the walls. Eeerie but somehow reassuring, after all, if it's this beautiful can't be too treacherous." Christy Sanford


MEZ [Mary-Anne Breeze] is a professional net.wurked avatar who [since 1995] has exhibited x-tensively in a net.wurked sphere [e.g CTHEORY's Digital Dirt, Digitarts '96, Experimenta Media Arts, ISEA_97, ARS Electronica_97, trAce, BeeHive Hypermedia, ACOUSTIC.SPACE, Riding The Meridian, fraMe, Pleine-Peau, SIGGRAPH_99, MASSAGE and d>Art 00]. Mez is an author [of the network language system _mezangelle_], an online lecturer [the latest being at the Arvon Foundation], a regular conference circuit participant [in 00 including the trAce conference Incubation, Pro&Contra in Moscow, the Enlightenment Conference - Netherlands, Urban Futures - South Africa, and Electrohype - Sweden] and co-moderator of the Webartery Mailing list. Mez writes for online ezines such as Cybersociology, Switch at the CADRE Institute, the Journal of Media, Meaning, Communication & Culture, and fineArt forum.



"For Love or Money" was originally linked externally and is no longer hosted. It is also not found on the Wayback Machine; therefore, the work is no longer available. Original link: ~lehan/frAme/index.html


Lehan Ramsey

For Love or Money

or how I became a scientist

FOR LOVE OR MONEY is a fictional account of a 36 year old Australian woman living in japan, working in a university of technology science and art, teaching communication, working on collaborative learning and art projects and a website called puppyŠŠŠŠ

Lehan Ramsey: WHAT IS THERE TO DO when your life takes you down lines are not marked? if you live in a country that is not yours you must make a life that is acceptable both to your own sense of living and that of those around you. if you take a job in something new it's always going to be a struggle between the old ways you bring with you and your fear of the dark ahead of you. it's not that the old ways weren't satisfying. it's not that that moves me so consistently off track. I just can't seem to be able to make to them work for me. I like the web because I can make my own little hybrid history here. and even when things disappear there's still a trace left of them, somewhere in some search engine, in the dust.



"Z-Index" was originally linked externally and is no longer hosted. It is also not found on the Wayback Machine; therefore, the work is no longer available. Original url: ganglia.html

Christy Sheffield Sanford

Z-index: Where are you?
Man, Mouse, Shoulder

A story of sandwiches and rotator cuffs. Open window wide. Increase font size, refresh. Repeat.



Reiner Strasser
Interview with Reiner Strasser about with Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink

Reiner Strasser's on-line work has been intriguing the web-art community since 1997. His pared elegance of presentation, evocative graphics, and gentle humor always create a sense of confirmation and ongoing surprise. is the newest addition in the cumulous and accumulating site that Reiner explains he handles as "a self-developing system" that "will evolve as the net will evolve--human-made, creating a synthetic/organic structure." consists of new work, 1999-2000, including "vib~ratio~n", "the shrine", "e[y]gg[e]", "structur/al walk", and "breathe."

Reiner Strasser was born 1954 in Antwerpen, Belgium. He studied art, art history and philosophy at the University of Mainz, Germany in the 70's. His web works, international collaborations and web art projects date from 1996. His web work appeared in several exhibitions/publications since 1997. Most recently in the e-zinen: Riding the Meridian; Cauldron and Net; Beehive; on several CD-ROM publications: The Little Magazine CD 22 Gravitational Intrigue, University of Albany, NY, 1999; Dietsche Warande & Belfort, Elektronische Literatuur, 4.99, NL/B; ALIRE 11, revue de littÈratur animÈ et interactive, Mots-Voir, France, 2000; DOC(K)S "un notre web", Corse 2000; and in real space: Aix Art Contemporaine Web en Provence, France,1999; Amour et Conscience, art show in Paris, 1999; AJAC 25th Art Exhibition, Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo, 1999; NOW Festival Nottingham, GB, 1999; AJAC 2000, M.A.M., Tokyo, 2000; INFOS '00 (honourable mention in the net art contest), Lubljana, Slovenia, 2000.




Victor J. Vitanza
Other of the Ear

Vitanza in the "Other of the Ear" attempts to represent "injury" in the forms of decoupage, collage, and montage (assemblage). T/His "writing" is an attempt to represent, however, without _ressentiment_.

Victor J. Vitanza, Professor of English and Rhetoric, teaches literacy and electracy at the Univ. of TX at Arlington. For additional information, visit





Call for contributions to frAme 6 Net : Spirit

Is there a new kind of spirituality happening out on the net? Do you get the sense you're connecting with something greater than yourself? Have you ever meditated online? Does code have a zen all of its own? What are the new spiritual patterns, symbols, and icons of cyberspace? Why all these coincidences, mindmelds, serendipities and downright unrealities? Is this religion? Who are we online? What do multiple identities do to your head? What does it all mean?

Net : Spirit will be co-edited by Sue Thomas and Helen Whitehead. We're looking for webwriting of all kinds. Essays and articles will also be considered. We offer a small payment to contributors. Please send submissions to Deadline 1st July 2001 for publication in September 2001


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Please visit earlier editions of frAme.

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