This essay is not a celebration of poetry authored by machines. I include the term "poetics" in my title mainly to allow myself access to a variety of non-novelistic textual forms, and my reference to artificial intelligence is meant to call attention to the ways in which the works I will be discussing self-consciously project various imaginings of computer-generated life.

My interests in this essay are most accurately circumscribed by aesthetics, a category of experience remarkably underdeveloped, it seems to me, in discussions of electronic textuality. Following some remarks on recent trends in experimental graphic design, I am going to be introducing three textual objects - Throwing Apples at the Sun, which is an interactive CD-ROM by Elliott Peter Earls, Johanna Drucker's artists' book Simulant Portrait, and Darick Chamberlin's artists' book Cigarette Boy - which foreground and aestheticize certain marks of production, primarily visual, which we associate with the digital wor(l)d. The first thing I will suggest is that all of these texts are concerned with demonstrating the materiality of their environments - and I will argue that this concern extends itself into the supposedly immaterial electronic writing spaces which some of these objects inhabit. The second thing I will suggest is that these texts, although created and authored by human beings, are at all points engaged in the construction of artificial subject positions - artificial intelligences if you will, though perhaps artifices of intelligence is more accurate and less (or more) glib. Yet all of these texts are, finally, concerned with grounding their artificial subjectivities in the material properties of their textual forms. [1] And that is precisely where their interest lies, for it is at this point that artifice becomes a scalable and measurable event, rather than the recursive abstraction it assumes through the play of linguistic différance (différance itself being a thematic touchstone for all of these works).

I also have an additional assumption: that the titles I listed above are for the most part unfamiliar ones. None of these works are canonical, either in critical writing on hypertext and related matters, or contemporary literature more generally. I've selected them as part of an effort to expand the range of works around which discussions like this one typically center themselves.