[ISEA2011] Paper: Annabel Frearson – Frankenstein2: or the Monster of Main Stream


Frankenstein2… involves rewriting Mary Shelley’s 1831 novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, using all and only the words from the original to create a new, contemporary story. The rewriting of Frankenstein has been facilitated by the creation of a bespoke piece of database software, called FrankenWriter, developed by Patrick Tresset.

By way of a loose plot, the lead protagonist of Frankenstein2… is a modern-day monster, an amoral product of mainstream influences, a banker, who, lacking the courage to kill himself, resolves to travel back in time to ensure that he is never born the first place.

Afflicted by a speech impediment which locks him into protracted cycles of repetition, the (as yet unnamed) protagonist indulges in wanton violence, pornography, chatroom banter and car chases, amid musings about his fondness for soft rock and recollections of his family: the cousin who died in the Twin Towers, his union-chief wrestling father, and his mother who lives in the mindset of a period drama.

In a topological, database-driven, reconfiguration of Shelley’s work, Frankenstein2… presents an act of over-identification, rather than mere subversion. In its consumption and regurgitation of Shelley’s original text, Frankenstein2… performs a work of auto-cannibalism and/or post-production that explores a new form of horror in the zone that vacillates between blind affective immersion and analytical cool distance. An allegory of neoliberalism, perhaps, it draws on the tension between speculation and wandering, between the power of potential and the poetics of indifference, where, as horrified ‘author’, I am caught between the story I want to tell and the language (technology) available to tell it.

Extracts of Frankenstein2… have to-date been exhibited, printed and performed in a variety of contexts and media:

  1. Arnolfini, Bristol: A Theatre to Address, 2010
  2. Stephen Lawrence Gallery, London: Use & Mention, 2010
  3. Revolve Wire magazine, 2007
  4. V&A, London: Prints Now: Directions & Definitions, 2006
  5. Vilma Gold, London: slimvolume, 2002


video: Extract from ‘Frankenstein2

  • Annabel Frearson, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK & University of Hertfordshire. annabelfrearson.com

Full text (PDF) p. 856-858