Center For

Literary Computing

Exploring and advancing the digital humanities

Alan Sondheim


Alan Sondheim

Alan Sondheim was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; he lives with his partner, Azure Carter, in Brooklyn NY. He holds a B.A. and M.A. from Brown University in English. A new-media artist, writer, and theorist, he has exhibited, performed and lectured widely.

Sondheim returns to WVU the week of April 18th, 2011. He will be giving a reading and talk in Colson 130 on Monday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. His visit is sponsored by the Lane Department of Computer Science and the Center for Literary Computing in the Department of English.

Sondheim’s writings include the anthology Being on Line: Net Subjectivity (Lusitania, 1996), Disorders of the Real (Station Hill, 1988), .echo (alt-X digital arts, 2001), Vel (Blazevox 2004-5), Sophia (Writers Forum, 2004), Orders of the Real (Writers Forum, 2005), The Accidental Artist (Fort/Da), Azure/Nature/Digital (Blue Lion, 2009), The Wayward (Salt,2004), and Deep Language (Salt, 2010) as well as numerous chapbooks, ebooks, and articles. Sondheim’s videos and films have been shown internationally, most recently at Netfilmmakers (Copenhagen), UMove (NY),Subtle Technologies (Toronto, 2009), Eyebeam (2009), and the Electronic Literature Conference (Providence, 2010). He co-moderates severalpioneering email lists, including Cybermind, Cyberculture and Wryting; Jon Marshall has published a book-length ethnography of the first.

Since January, 1994, Sondheim has been working on an “Internet Text,” a continuous meditation on philosophy, psychology, language, body, and virtuality. The Internet Text is coordinated with multi-media work on various websites. In 1999, Sondheim was the 2nd Virtual Writer in Residence for the Trace online writing community (Nottingham-TrentUniversity, England). In 2008, Sondheim had a solo installation and nine-month residency at the Odyssey exhibition space in the virtual world Second Life; currently he has an ongoing Second Life residency in East of Odyssey. He has just completed a Second Life residency through Humlab,University of Umea, in Sweden; this was accompanied by a gallery installation at the university itself. Sondheim is now working on augmented reality pieces, to be presented in spring, 2011; he will bespeaking at E-Poetry and Dartmouth this spring, as well as working with motion capture equipment at Columbia College in February.

In 2004, Sondheim had a five-week residency at the Center for Literary Computing and the Virtual Environments Laboratory, under the directions of Sandy Baldwin and Frances Van Scoy, both at West Virginia University; in 2007 he was a six-week resident of the same. In 2005 he was resident artist/writer at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. He produced two cds at the latter (his older recordings have been reissued by ESP-Disk and Fire Museum). Two new cds have since appeared with FireMuseum, a vinyl record with Qbico, and another cd with Myk Friedman for Porter Records. A new vinyl is forthcoming from FireMuseum. Sondheim has played live innumerous venues around New York and Philadelphia, including a recent gig with the Vavooom Quintet, a group he organized. In 2008 he was on an eight-month National Science Foundation (NSF) consultancy at WVU. His research is in the art and aesthetics of codework, body and behavioral modeling, virtual environments, and avatars in general. In 2007, Sondheim was also the recipient of a New Media New York State Council of the Arts grant.

In 2001, Sondheim assembled a special issue of the American Book Review on Codework, which was seminal in its genre; along with Mez and Sandy Baldwin, he co-edited an online issue of Leonardo. Codework has been the subject of a major international workshop at WVU in April, 2008, organized by Baldwin. In 1999-2000, Sondheim was second virtual-artist-in-residence in the Trace online writing program. In 2001 he taught New Media at Florida International University in Miami. In 2006-07 he taught film at Brown University, and recently taught in the humanities at the School of Visual Arts. For the past 18 years, Sondheim has worked with the Swissdancer/ choreographer Foofwa d’Imobilite; their work has premiered across Europe and the U.S. Sondheim’s own laptop performances have been widely seen; most recently he has been involved in online avatar performance with Sandy Baldwin for live audiences in Paris, London, Basel, Portland OR, and Providence RI. In January, 2010, Sondheim, along with Foofwa d’Imobiliteand Azure Carter, opened the season for Dance New Amsterdam in Manhattan; this past August, he performed as part of a series at Mt. Tremper in upstate New York. Sondheim and d’Imobilite have been working on a series of dance/performance DVDs, including Aletsch, three disks of performances in the Alps.

In 2006 Sondheim had a major exhibition at Track 16 Gallery in Los Angeles. There have been other installations at the Grand Central Art Center, West Virginia University, Arena/Uqbar in Second Life, and OCADHybrid in Second Life.

Current interests include codework/texts, music, aesthetics and creation of virtual environments and installations, cosmology and Buddhist philosophy and their relation to avatars and online environments; and experimental choreography.

Sondheim’s work is archived at New York University’s Fales Collection, and Ohio State University’s Avant Writing Collection, in Columbus.

Relevant URLS:

Music archive: (directory) at,, tel US 1-347-383-8552

Alan Sondheim 432 Dean Street Brooklyn, New York, 11217 USA

Artist and Writer in Residency at CLC during Summer 2004

Writer and artist Alan Sondheim visited West Virginia University for a summer residency from June 2 to July 7. The visit was a collaboration between the CLC and the Virtual Environments Lab (VEL). Take a look at an archive of work from this collaboration.

Highlights of the visit include:

—Initial research for “World Premiere: The Phenomenology of the Virtual,” a theoretical and artistic exploration of “liveness” in virtual environments.

—Development of “Plain_Text: Tools for Literary Computing,” a set of tools and texts for codeworkers and media writers.

—“Not-Doing,” a multimedia installation at the WVU College of Creative Arts Paul Mesaros Gallery. The Gallery is free and open to the public. The installation will run from June 14 to August 8.