For Those Frustrated With Electronic Literature, Here is Your “Bone”

Farinsky Blog 6: Kinetic and Interactive Poetry

Image result for throw me a bone
Not all of us have felt as suave as Austin Powers navigating electronic art.

I will be the first to admit a sort of “hypertext fatigue” which has built over the previous weeks and has deeply challenged me.

Most have been massive works that are told in a deeply unsatisfying, non-linear fashion unless one spends hours pouring over the hundreds of linked pages to try and piece together some sense of story. And with a long list of works to look at each week the frustration is compounded as I fail to understand work after work enough to feel comfortable writing an intelligent blog post about them.

This week was refreshing because the majority of works were in video form. I was able to see the entirety of the piece in under 15 minutes which was more conducive to re-watching, and interpreting.

Here is my “like” list:

Knowing the narrative is a first, critical step, of understanding a literary piece before further analysis, and becoming able to appreciate it stylistically. Two works do this particularly well, “Shy Boy” and “Rain on the Sea”.

“Shy Boy” is a poem that has been produced through a program to bring a kinetic feeling to the work. This work is a strong argument for why Electronic Literature deserves to exist as a genre because it takes the form of traditional poetry, but uses programming to enhance the delivery. The strong literary influence makes this work more than digital art.

Similarly, “Rain on the Sea” has a lot of reasons to like it. The work uses text to tell a distinct story using language, sound, and speed to explore past the constraints of print. The soundtrack accompanying this work is an upbeat jazz mix which signals to the reader this work is going to move fast. It is almost incomprehensible it speeds by so quick. However, since this work is a video browser extensions such as Chrome’s Video Speed Controller can be used to slow the video playback speed so a second viewing can focus on reading each word building on the first viewing’s understanding. This makes the work accessible to more people who would otherwise give up on engaging.

Special mention goes to A is for Apple, by David Clark because it is hypertext, and it is easily navigable. The page title is clearly visible as well as a link to restart or find the map which makes this work so much more readable. 

The time I spent with these works was so much more enjoyable than previous weeks because most of my time was not devoted to figuring out the narrative. I was able to understand the text and then dive deeper into the stylistic features and layers of meaning compared to feeling lost and angry at link-based fiction.