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Nikol Hejlickova
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Mastering the Art of French Cooking explores variable communications platforms and randomly accelerated speeds of reading. The work projects a four-column machine-based mode of reading two works that are difficult to master: Julia Child's The Art of French Cooking, and a text by Niklas Luhmann on the subject of systems theory. The default speed of reading is set at 1200 words per minute but is variable and may be changed by adjusting the URL.(Source: Author's Statement from ELC 3)Two grand narratives of the mid-twentieth century—Niklas Luhmann's system theory and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking—are placed into an autopoietic dialogue with one another. Known for his experimental work in “ambient literature,” Tan Lin’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Systems Theory playfully juxtaposes two textual tomes known for their complexity against one another at supra-human reading speeds. The indigestible speed of this piece reflects the difficult and often inscrutable subject matter of the original works. Whereas Julia Child’s cookbook contained baroque recipes that exceeded the expectations of Americans accustomed to Betty Crocker basics. Luhmann's systems theory is itself written in deliberately abstruse language. Both works attempt to argue for the importance of interconnectedness, whether it’s the careful attention to complicated multi-step, multi-ingredient processes or a vast interconnected communication network. In Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Systems Theory, Tan Lin networks these two narratives together, hinting at larger forms of interconnectedness—a homology between the quantified abstractions of food recipes and the abstraction of cybernetics in a computational environment operating at the limits of human sensibility.(Source: Editorial Statement from ELC 3)