“The Ballad of Soot and Sand” by Stephanie Strickland has a hyperlink structure similar to hypertext fiction, while using elements of kinetic and interactive poetry. The poem is traversed nonlinearly through links in the body of the poem, within words that correspond to other passages. Soot and Sand is more navigable and asks less of the viewer than more dense or confusing pieces of hypertext e-literature by having links to other parts of the poem along the bottom of the screen. Links to passages that have been read are in bold. Each passage is formatted differently, with text aligned or oriented in different ways and color is applied to the text, affect how the text is read, at what rate it is read, and giving more significance to passages and words by coloring or orienting them differently than the rest of the text, conveying meaning that might not a have been drawn by the viewer otherwise.
Words and letters are not only carriers of meaning but material objects that themselves have variable properties. -Rettberg
David Jhave Johnson’s “SOFTIES” are a more dramatic example of manipulating the appearance of text to convey meaning. In his piece “Stand Under” he stretches and pulls the word understanding, broken down and rewritten several times to create an abstract kinetic form. The words “stand” and “under” are reiterated and stacked on top of each other under a long stretched letter. As the stretched letter is pushed and pulled the understanding beneath it compresses and contracts. The description of the work states “State under. Humility understands.” The work visually represents the literal meaning of the word understanding and how to achieve understanding through humility, and placing a situation one is trying to understand above oneself. Manipulating text minutely or grandly can be used to communicate major or minor subtext.