Abraham Avnisan

Abraham Avnisan


M.F.A., Art and Technology Studies, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
M.F.A., Poetry, Brooklyn College
B.A., English Literature, University of Maryland, College Park

Offfice: UW1-335
Phone: 425-352-5065
Email: avnisan@uw.edu
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus
Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246



As an educator, I focus on helping students find their creative voice by guiding them to the techniques, materials and research methods they need to uncover the questions most vital to their practice. I cultivate intellectual curiosity and creative risk-taking by emphasizing learning, making and thinking as intimately interconnected processes of experimentation and discovery. Teaching my students that creative practice is an open-ended dialogue between artists’ private histories and the diverse cultural contexts in which they make their work, I emphasize the importance of understanding one’s work within the broader culture. Driven by my own commitment to uncovering the invisible systems of power that structure our experiences, I challenge my students to sharpen their critical thinking skills in order to deepen their practice and ethically engage with the world around them.


My creative practice is situated at the intersection of creative coding, experimental writing, and critical theory: I create artists’ books, applications for mobile devices, and interactive media installations that seek to subvert dominant narratives through embodied encounters with language. Collocations , for example, is a work of experimental writing designed for mobile devices that stages collisions between fleeting poetic subtexts within two excerpted pages from Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr’s historic debates about quantum mechanics. Interaction with the work transforms the user into an experimenter, whose physical manipulation of the device determines the materialization of unique textual configurations that embody the fundamental indeterminacy of matter, disrupting classical notions of textuality in a dynamic, non-linear and kinesthetic reading experience. A recent collaboration with Jennifer Scappettone and Judd Morrissey, SMOKEPENNY LYRICHORD HEAVENBRED, is a “mixed reality” performance exploring the material, environmental and political histories of contemporary network culture. In a virtual environment created by high-resolution 3D Lidar scans of a now-defunct copper mine in Michigan, two performers manipulate a custom augmented reality system to encrypt and decrypt language from an archival database of 30,000 telegraph codes used by the mining industry. Drawing on the entangled histories of copper mining and the electric telegraph, SMOKEPENNY forges a poetics of generative telegraphy, geophysical extraction, and the multilingual hauntings of forgotten laborers.

Selected Publications & Exhibitions

Translations, Electronic Literature Organization Arts Festival, Porto, Portugal, 2017 (in collaboration with Jennifer Scappettone and Judd Morrissey)

Ordinary Media: Always-On Formats, Genres, Aesthetics, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 2017 (in collaboration with Jennifer Scappettone and Judd Morrissey)

Post-Screen: International Festival of Art, New Media and Cybercultures, Millennium Gallery, Lisbon, Portugal, 2016-17 (catalog)

Electronic Literature: A Matter of Bits, Stedman Gallery, Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts, Camden, NJ, 2016 (catalog)

The Data That We Breathe, Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 2016 (in collaboration with Caroline Bergvall, Jennifer Scappettone and Judd Morrissey)

The Libraries at the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2016

Roskilde Library, Roskilde, Denmark, 2016

Vild med ORD Literature Festival, Aarhus, Denmark, 2016

The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 3, 2016

International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA) 2015, Symposium proceedings

Stonecutter, Issue 4, 2014