Farinsky Blog 4: Net Art
“My Boyfriend Came Back from the War” by Olia Lialina is work classified as net art, but looks incredibly similar to hypertext fiction. To read this work you click on links which subdivide the screen as each story path propagates new text and images. One significant difference seems to be that all the narrative paths seem to stay on screen, and accessible to the reader, unlike most hypertext which rarely gives map, or an overview of where the reader is.
Like hypertext “My Boyfriend Came Back from the War” carries many linear narrative paths that exist at the same time. Each segment of the screen represents one path, and divides to show complexity quickly as one box becomes 2, 4, or 8 as represented by the image above. It is overwhelming to track each piece but still intriguing as the narrative plays out in the reader’s imagination and on screen through snippets of dialogue. The pace of this story is quick- often boxes contain less than 15 words so reading and clicking the next link is significantly less spaced than typical hypertext works. It reads like a conversation by mirroring the speed of a in-person dialogue.
Perhaps net art and hypertext are the same thing, but only separated because they did not exist within platforms such as Story Space like many other famous works of hypertext fiction. If what truly separates net art from hypertext is self publishing through java script perhaps a better name should be “independent hypertext” rather than “net art”. Calling this type of work net art leans credibility away from connotations of the word “literature” because they resemble art with literary features just as much as hypertext resemble any traditional example of literature. Self-publication of a book or a website is significantly different than going through a traditional publisher or using a program with prescribed layouts to create stories however it is not necessarily different enough to call the product a separate entity if publication method is the only significant difference as it appears here.