Author: Sydney Standish
I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. I found the use of text sound and visuals incredibly interesting. The scenes I found the most interesting, were the stabbing scenes. There were two scenes like this in chapters 1-4. One scene contains what I believe to be the main character’s love interest, and the other what I believe to be his brother. I found it incredibly interesting how these scenes were used almost as a climax, and a breaking point that led into the next chapter. I’m not sure what the symbolism and meaning behind these scenes are, but I think that the violence and rushing of images, is a wonderfully striking end to these chapters.
I also found the use of braille interesting in this piece. I think that eyesight will become a very important theme in this piece. I also think the use of braille really pairs well with the mechanic that drives the piece. Sliding your fingers on the screen to “open your eyes” or “close your eyes”, drives the story.
I also found the use of dark imagery interesting in this piece. The dark tones really project the darker themes in the piece, and portray the mystery behind the piece.
I can’t wait to continue to delve into the piece, and really unlock the mystery of it.
Greasy fly natural hoax apple
Silk songs google pardon shock
Decay saw clutch lumpy snotty
Winter shade suggestion tie yam
Judge recognize thumb minor servant
Cork attractive protest cloistered free
Hum interesting tawdry halting chivalrous
Sudden mow fall awful quick
Dapper measure request depend butter
Dime deafening water damaged sanctify
Separate seize night frequent yell
Tread boundless windy create useless
Collar torpid cherries haircut hop
I created this poem using a random word generator. None of the work is my own, and the words are in no logical order. Before settling on the final poem, I looked at these words and contemplated rearranging them. I looked at the words given to me, and tried to come up with some sort of story that resulted from them. In the same way that I went through this process in the creation of it, I thought it would be interesting if the reader also went through this process. This is why I didn’t touch the poem and kept all of the words in the same order that they were generated. I think it would be interesting for the reader to try to come up with some sort of storyline, for meaningless words in a meaningless order.
Here is the website used: https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator
Dreamscape and Reality: An Exploration of Network Writing
“Degenerative and regenerative” by Tiselli, was a longer term project, that was entirely dependent on the interactions. The webpage featured text that would “degenerate” with every visit. Within days, the text became unreadable. I took this piece as a commentary on value and importance. Although degenerated and unreadable, the piece still had conveyed something. It seemed to comment on the idea of network writing in itself. Was there importance in the net language, or was all importance and meaning degenerated?
“The Fall of the Site of Marsha”, by Rob wittig, and “MEZZANGELLE”, by Mez Breeze, seem to further this point of importance. Although a bit more legible than “degenerative and regenerative”, these pieces still highlight the importance and meaning that can be held by net language.
“The Fall of the Site of Marsha”, tells a story of a fallen woman to “angels”, and even contains an affair storyline. How can such an advanced story be portrayed by so little text?
“Blue Company”, also by Robb Wittig, tells a story with more text. While this story line contains more text details than that of “The Fall of the Site of Marsha”, they are both similar in the level of story given. This goes to show, that the amount or straightforwardness of text, is not always needed to portray a complicated story line. Although both of these pieces leave holes for the interactor to fill in, I found more interest in the storyline of, “The Fall of Marsha”. It left much more to be desired, which really reeled me in.
“heyharryheymatilda”, by Rachel Hulin, was also very text and image heavy. I found it very interesting how this piece used Instagram to portray the story. I still though, found much more interest in the more abstract pieces, then these filled out novels.
I was also very interested in, “The Listeners”, by John Cayley. I found it interesting how this piece strayed a bit farther away from net language, and focused on another aspect of human engagement with the net. This piece was a critique on human interaction with the net, and was portrayed through an audio conversation of a man with an “Amazon Alexa”. As someone who uses an “Amazon Alexa” daily, I found it incredibly interesting how this piece played out. I also found the commentary on our reliance with the sociability through these networks incredibly interesting.
“I love Alaska” seemed to have a similar commentary, as it follows the search history of a middle aged woman in a sexually dissatisfying relationship. The story progresses to her finding lovers in chat rooms, and eventually cheating on her husband with one of these chat room members. It seems to be a commentary on our dissatisfaction with our real world circumstances, and how our online networks can provide us with exploration and a sense of satisfaction in what isn’t real.
All of these pieces seem to provide almost a dreamscape, and highlight the other reality that is our online networks. I fully enjoyed all of these pieces.
Loss of Grasp on FilmText
For this blog post I explored, “Loss of Grasp”, by Serge Bouchardon, and “FilmText”, by Mark Amerika. Both of these pieces told a story, but with a fair amount of abstraction. “Loss of Grasp”, seems to explore the progression of the main character through a downward spiral. The story begins with the character having things put together, but then quickly falling apart. As colorful glowing orbs start following the mouse movements, and exploding on screen, the reader is able to experience the “out of control” feeling of the main character. The reader is then given a choice to follow the character ten or so years down the line, a few days later, or in the present. When I read through this piece, I chose the ten-year option. After choosing this, I was brought to a picture of a woman that was revealed with the scrolling over of my mouse. The story then progresses, to the woman leaving the main character. The story continues to fall apart, as the main character is dealing with disappointment through the eyes of their son.
“FilmText” had quite a bit more abstraction, and I struggled to understand the meaning behind this piece. Most of the piece took place over an image of a sandy, barren and crater filled landscape. There were many futuristic technology images that overlaid this landscape. These futuristic technology pieces could be interacted with by the reader. I believe that this piece could be a commentary on the future of civilization, and the clash of organic and inorganic. The piece employed quite a few interactions for the reader. With the movement and clicking of the mouse, images, audio, and text could be displayed. I was impressed with the use of different forms of media in both of these pieces, and I really enjoyed exploring them and their meanings. I was able to really experience the emotions of the piece, and the images, audio, and interactivity, really drove the story.
I explored, “SOFTIEs”, by David Jhave Johnson, “Dreamlife of Letters”, by Brian Kim Stefans, and “Shy Boy”, by Tom Swiss. Each of these interactive poetry works, incorporated text movement to express the message. “SOFTIEs”, used a variety of text movement to express emotion and meaning. For example, the first piece of the poem is the repeating word, “understanding”. The word is shown as being stepped on and pushed down. The word fights back, and as the clip progresses, more of the word is presented. In “Shy Boy”, the text animation is relatively simple, with fade ins, fade outs, and fading downward. The words are accompanied though by blocks of gray and black that follow the text. I believe that this does a fantastic job of conveying the uncomfortable and dark feelings of the shy boy. No matter what is said, there is a follow up of gray or black. This is almost as if the gray and darkness is following the boy. Lastly, in “Dreamlife of Letters”, text animation is used quite heavily, as it moves along the alphabet. Each word and sequence has a different type of animation. Some are busy and dizzying, and some are as simple as the text fading in and out on the screen.
“Shy Boy” and “SOFTIEs” also used audio. “Shy Boy” used an almost haunting and soft instrumental, while “SOFTIEs” used something that made the listener even more uncomfortable. Throughout the animations, there was a single low note played constantly. This portrayed a feeling of foreboding and mystery. Overall, I really enjoyed each of these three pieces, and what they all provided. I loved their differences, and their creativity.
The Narrative World of Porpentine
I explored “With Those We Love Alive”, by Porpentine, and “Howling Dogs”, also by Porpentine. I didn’t intentionally explore two works by the same author/creator, but after doing so, I believed I got a far better understanding of the author’s methods. Both of the works seem to center in on a dark, twisted society and the daily mundane tasks of members of that society. In “With Those We Love Alive”, we follow our protagonist, a creator hired on by the empress. The world is dark and filled with muck, and the occasional dead person who is staring at you. The empress is described almost in a monstrous way, with horns, oozing ichor, and rotting flesh. The empress hunts humans, and human body fluids are drunken. The city is falling apart, ridden with monsters, stains, and rot. The protagonist also has to refuel on hormones, and imagery is used to describe the glow of veins pulsing with hormone. “Howling Dogs”, although not as visually interesting, carries a similar theme. The protagonist wakes up in a cold, sterile almost hospital-like room. The protagonist then has to do daily tasks such as drinking, eating, throwing out garbage, before heading into what is called the activity room. This room is described to have almost a virtual reality visor, that continues the main storyline for the protagonist. Both pieces are very mysterious and poetic. The game is progressed through a series of link choices. “With Those We Love Alive” is a bit different than “Howling Dogs”, as it possesses links that can be alternated by the player. Both of these pieces involve the interactor or player, by forcing them to make decisions to advance the story line. While playing both of these pieces, I would often find myself stuck in the storyline, if I didn’t find the correct link that would advance it. The links also changed how the storyline played out, and the circumstances that would be faced by the protagonist. These two works seem to follow more of a hypertext layout, then that of a game. While they both provide options for the player, these two games seem to be more of framework for a literature piece, rather than a game. The works are both incredibly mysterious, and engage the player’s imagination in a multitude of ways. The wording is poetic and ambiguous in nature, and each new prompt, brings up more questions and plot holes to fill. In my exploration of, “With Those We Love Alive”, I had stumbled on a friendship/romance storyline that seemed to hint at a big turning point for the two characters. They never explicitly stated what had happened but seemed to hint at it. I really loved these two pieces, and would love to get to a point where some of the plot holes are filled.
The Future of Hypertext Fiction
I believe that there is a growing interest in the complexities of human interaction and society. I also think that there is a growing interest in our future. I think that hypertext fiction perfectly encompasses these interests. Before even becoming aware and versed with hypertext fiction, I was a fan of the Netflix series, “Black Mirror”. This series explores human consequences, and especially the consequences of modern day technology. The Netflix show has quite the fan base, and has even inspired other works. I believe this show highlights the emerging interest in human consequences and technology. I find it especially entertaining to delve and explore those consequences when they aren’t personally affecting me. It’s interesting to talk about the “what if?”. I have also seen an emergence in this theme in video gaming. The widely popular game, “Red Dead Redemption 2”, follows the storyline of an outlaw. The player, although following a set storyline, can make decisions for the character to determine their morality, and the way that the story plays out. Hypertext fiction is a very exploratory genre that I believe follows these trends. It allows the reader to make decisions, explore consequences as an outsider, explore technology, and explore the complexities of human nature and thinking. The Netflix show “Black Mirror”, in particular, recently came out with a film. This film called, “Bandersnatch”, is a branching, but mostly linear story, that the audience can control through prompts and their television remote. In the article, “Why No One Clicked on the Great Hypertext Story”, by Steven Johnson, Johnson explores the evolving of Hypertext fiction. He says that our internet tendencies, like reading a blog, or following links in a news article, follows a hypertext format.
Although following along a similar thread, true hypertext fiction of nonlinear, branching and linking story-telling, have become more obsolete. Even in the instances of “Black Mirror”, and “Red Dead Redemption 2”, these narratives follow a general linear path and generally move forward in the narrative with each decision. In “Afternoon, a Story” by Michael Joyce, the narrative although having a base linear story, often take spindling directions that can land you in the beginning, middle, or end of the story. “Afternoon, a Story”, also incorporates the challenge of multiple character’s viewpoints that further complicates the story.
Johnson states in his piece that, “It turned out that nonlinear reading spaces had a problem: They were incredibly difficult to write.” This statement seems to predict the way that Johnson believes hypertext fiction will continue to evolve. Although Hypertext fiction certainly follows developments in current trends, I believe that linear fiction will certainly win out. The evolved version of hypertext fiction that follows a primarily linear path, such as the “Black Mirror” movie, “Bandersnatch”, is what I believe will remain popular. The link-structure, nonlinearity and fragmentation of hypertext can certainly express more of human nature, human thought processes, and human consequence, although I believe it’s cousin of linearity, will continue to remain more popular.
Hypertext Fiction and “The Babysitter”
As explained in Scott Rettberg’s, “Electronic Literature”, hypertext literature, being the predecessor to electronic literature, developed in turn from interest in both literary experimentation and cultural shifts toward computing. Hypertext fiction are stories written in fragments of text that interconnect, and can be navigated by the reader through a series of links and or, “choices” that guide the story.
Robert Coover’s, ‘The Babysitter”, is a puzzling and dissociated work of fiction detailing the events of a few hours. A young girl is hired to babysit Bitsy and Jimmy Tucker, while Mr. and Mrs. Tucker go to a party. The seemingly mundane tale of a night of babysitting, is wrought with twists and turns brought upon by varying character viewpoints, and even “imagined” events. Each paragraph of the work, is broken up in time, character perspective, and actual and imagined events, to weave a fragmented tale. This piece not only contains haunting details such as rape and murder, but discusses them in a seemingly simple and matter of fact matter. One paragraph will explain a rape scene in gory detail, while the next explains a mundane task such as answering the phone. I believe that the writing style of, “The Babysitter”, pairs well with the haunting and mysterious nature of the story. The change in perspective perfectly highlights lust and fear, while the changing, and sometimes even imagined plot points, leave the reader stumbling through the story, much like the characters did. This work is certainly a model for later works of Hypertext, and perfectly models the pairing of plot and writing style.
My name is Sydney Standish, and I am a junior DTC student at WSUV! I love all things creative, and I am excited for the blog posts to come.