Alan Sondheim

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Alan Sondheim is a poet, critic, musician, artist, and theorist of cyberspace from the United States.


Alan Sondheim was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from Brown University. He lives with his partner, Azure Carter, in Providence, Rhode Island.

His works[edit]

Sondheim's books include the anthology Being on Line: Net Subjectivity (1997),[1] Disorders of the Real (1988),[2] .echo (2001),[3] Vel (Blazevox, 2004-5), Sophia (Writers Forum, 2004), The Wayward (2004),[4] and "Writing Under" (2012),[5] as well as numerous other chapbooks, ebooks, and articles. Sondheim has long been associated with the Trace online writing community, and was their second virtual-writer-in-residence. His video and filmwork have been widely shown.[6] Sondheim was an Eyebeam resident.[7][8]

Sondheim co-moderates several email lists, including Cybermind, Cyberculture and Wryting. Since 1994, he has been working on the "Internet Text," a continuous meditation on philosophy, psychology, language, body, and virtuality. His artwork can also be found within Second Life.[9] In 1996 he was keynote speaker for the Cybermind96 Conference in Perth Western Australia - one of the world's first conferences specifically organised around an email discussion list. In 2012 he was a presenter and active participant at the CyPosium, a one-day online symposium on cyberformance.

Sondheim is the developer of the concept of codework,[10] wherein computer code itself becomes a medium for artistic expression.

His poetico-philosophical writings deal with the notion of embodiment and presence in cyberspace, loosely based on the work of postmodern philosophers Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida. He explores notions of the 'abject' in the masculine and feminine online, and more recently has dealt with the machinic using the language of computer code to articulate novel forms of identity in cyberspace. His work crosses over between philosophical explorations and sound poetry and more recently he has returned to the language of music using the tonalities of a wide range of ethnic instruments. His poetry has spanned several decades ranging from avant-garde beat poetry and stream-of-consciousness of the late 60's and 70's and soundscape poetry, maturing into a complex melding of multiple representational forms.

As of mid-2009, Sondheim is working on a book examining the phenomenology and foundations of the analog and digital, and another on developing an aesthetics of virtual realities and avatars. His current areas of exploration include: the aesthetics of virtual environments and installations; mapping techniques using motion capture and 3D laser scanners; Buddhist philosophy and its relation to avatars and online environments; and experimental choreography.

In 2013, Alan spoke at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival[11] on Glitch aesthetics and techniques.

In April 2022, his book, Broken Theory was published on the Punctum Books imprint. A collection of writing fragments and ideas, the book is a complex flow of ideas, experiments, and personal reflections that reflect his interests in the somatics of theory, philosophy, and art - how the body is necessary for such cultural production. Broken Theory's preface is written by Maria Damon, and the volume contains a lengthy interview with Sondheim conducted by the art historian Ryan Whyte.

The Internet Text[edit]

The Internet Text can be seen as Sondheim's major work, and was included in the first Electronic Literature Collection. Posted online since 1994, it is both an aggregate of Sondheim's writings and a "continuous meditation on cyberspace." The works are distributed on several email lists and gathered on Sondheim's website. The significance of The Internet Text is as a document or residue of Sondheim's diverse writings and performances, and also as a philosophical reflection on computer mediated communication and online culture.


  1. ^ Sondheim, Alan, [guest editor] (1997). Being on line : net subjectivity. New York, N.Y.: Lusitania Press. ISBN 1882791045. {{cite book}}: |first1= has generic name (help)
  2. ^ Sondheim, Alan (1988). Disorders of the real. Barrytown, N.Y.: Station Hill Press. ISBN 0940170140.
  3. ^ Sondheim, Alan (2001). .echo. Boulder, Colo.: Alt-X Press. ISBN 1931560056.
  4. ^ Sondheim, Alan (2004). The wayward. Cambridge, U.K.: Salt Pub. ISBN 1844710475.
  5. ^ Sondheim, Alan (2012). Writing Under: Selections from the Internet Text. Morgantown, W.V.: West Virginia University Press. ISBN 9781935978732.
  6. ^ Most of his films can be found in the Experimental Television Center and its Archive in the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell University Library.
  7. ^ "Alan Sondheim |". Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  8. ^ "Public Eyesore Records - Artists". Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  9. ^ Domenico, Quaranta (2008). "The Accidental Artist, by Alan Sondheim". CIAC (31). Archived from the original on 2014-07-02. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  10. ^ Sondheim, Alan (September–October 2001). "Codework" (PDF). American Book Review. 22 (6). Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  11. ^


Alan Sondheim/Ritual All 770 - The Songs (Riverboat 03) USA 1967 /reissue Fire Museum Records (FMR04) USA 2005
Alan Sondheim - Ritual-All-7-70 (ESP-Disk' 1048) USA 1967
Alan Sondheim - T'Other Little Tune (ESP-Disk' 1082) USA 1968
Alan Sondheim - Ski/nn (Fire Museum Records FMR 07) USA 2006
Alan Sondheim - Fifty-Six (Qbico 056) Italy 2006
Alan Sondheim - Boojum (Majmua Music MM 9) USA 2008
Alan Sondheim, Helena Espvall, Azure Carter - Cauldron (Fire Museum Records FM 018) USA 2012
Alan Sondheim, Chris Diasparra, Edward Schneider - Cutting Board (ESP-Disk' 5004) USA 2014
Alan Sondheim, Azure Carter - Avatar Woman (Public Eyesore Records PE 123) USA 2014
Alan Sondheim, Stephen Dydo - Dragon and Phoenix (ESP-Disk' 5019) USA 2017
Alan Sondheim - Future Speed Future (Public Eyesore Records PE 143) USA 2019

External links[edit]