Locative Fiction and 3D Literature

Out of the various forms of divergent streams discussed by Rettberg, the one that really caught my attention was locative fiction, especially in regards to AR. Up until the digital age (and particularly up until smartphones became commonplace), location-based art was fleeting. Street performances, outdoor concerts, flash mobs, and the like could be experienced only if the viewer was physically in the area; videos and retellings of the events are interesting but ultimately inauthentic secondhand narratives, unable to precisely capture the minute details of a live event.

With locative fiction, however, the intimacy of neighborhood performance art is able to be fixed in time and space. It’s able to, in theory, be experienced by people months or even years apart, without any part of that experience becoming diminished through attempted reproduction.

The term locative fiction encompassed a wide range of e-literature styles, such as net art, kinetic poetry, or even hypertext fiction (perhaps the hyperlinks within the story change depending on where you are in a neighborhood?); they can also be wholly digital (such as a story that appears on your phone), or could be augmented or even virtual reality. Rettberg describes just how varied locative fiction can be:

We could investigate a murder mystery by retracting the steps of the killer at the scene of the crime. We could situate historical fiction set in a different era on the streets of the contemporary city. We could write poems, layered in augmented realty in the sky above the mountains they describe, as we sweep across the landscape and watch the live video on the screens of our phones (184).

In my opinion, the idea of augmented reality is full of the most intriguing literary possibilities. What if the historical fiction wasn’t simply a locative story, but a locative story set in AR? By tracing a path with your phone’s camera, you could watch the stories of famous figures unfolding in your very own city, with the modern world setting a sharp contrast–or, perhaps even show you how little your town (or the town you’re visiting) has changed by highlighting historical sites. Or, a library could have a multilinear story that shifts between genres depending on where you go within the building, leading you to suggestions for similar reading (digital and physical!).

Combining the intimacy and personality of a physical location with the creativity and wide-open nature of locative fiction, the possibilities are endless.

Divergent Streams

Locative narratives were what I found most interesting. Locative narratives utilize GPS, IP addresses, location tracking, etc. For a few months now, I’ve had an idea, its an ambitious idea but one that would really be unique and interesting. Family history is incredibly important to me and I think it would incredibly cool to utilize locative narrative in order to tell it. The narrative would be my families movements across different parts of the world.

At some point in my life when I save up the money, the idea would be to travel to areas where my family either lives or once lived and I would plant QR codes in these locations. These QR codes would contain descriptions of my families history, what my family did there or does there if they still live there. Lines would connect each point, essentially creating a web. Again, its ambitious, but not out of the realm of possibility.

In regards to VR and AR the possibilities for storytelling are really limitless in possibility. Stories set in a space environment or some horror scenario are the first to come to mind. Kinetic poetry can also really be taken advantage of. The 3D space that VR provides really takes kinetic poetry to a whole other level. Just imagining what “Cruising” could look like in a VR space is incredibly exciting because in cruising there is a huge amount of motion but it is all in a 2D space. VR would allow this to transition into the 3D.

You Could Be “Player One”, Are You Ready?

Image result for ready player one
Ready Player One’s OASIS program may not be as far-flung as you think.

Farinsky Blog 9: 3D Literature

Blog: Which of the new forms from “divergent streams” discussed by Rettberg interest you most? Why? What literary possibilities are there in virtual and augmented worlds?

People often choose to view the future of technology with optimism. I am one of those people when thinking about the “divergent stream” of Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) platforms. We may never have a program as imaginative, or as complex and widespread as the OASIS program from Ready Player One, a book written by Ernest Cline, but that doesn’t mean we do not have the potential to create something incredibly similar.

There are infinite learning possibilities that can come from VR technology. Imagine a “game” or a “collaborative digital virtual experience” where a warehouse or museum space is transformed through a VR headset which transports the user to the middle of a historical event.Students could put on headsets and “meet” recreations of historical characters, have an interview with authors they are reading in class, or view an important lecture by a prominent academic regardless separation by location or time. Think of how powerful experiencing education could become compared to passively reading textbooks or watching videos.

I am also excited by the possibilities VR bring because a VR headset and experience can add accessibility. In hospitals like UCSF Benioff Childrens Hospital:

Or this video by Mashable:

Think about an individual who could “leave” their hospital bed or “attend” classes because the immersive nature of VR makes travel possible. Pain patients participating in studies with VR report decreases in the amount of pain they experience, people could learn to walk based on moving a character’s leg instead of being limited by mental blocks about using prosthetics, and these ideas are just the surface:

What if home-bound individuals could put on VR goggles or use an AR camera to initiate a program where the author of a book (or another individual) reads the book to this person so they are stimulated and potentially feel less lonely?

Do you think learning about Martin Luther King Jr’s incredible rhetoric would be more powerful if we created an experience where you were listening to his speech at the Washington Monument as a member of the crowd? 

The future of this technology is powerful if we can harness the ability of VR and AR to provide meaningful experiences that challenge our understanding, and empathy, as individuals.

Divergent Streams

Technology allows creators to tell stories in just about anyway they can imagine. They are no longer limited by print and have the opportunity to come up with unique methods that help convey their story the best way possible. These sorts of modern stories oftentimes revolve around various types of hardware and screens. Some stories like Text Rain take the elements our languages have been using for centuries and find unique uses for them. It could even be called a new form of reading, not just playing. The rise of virtual reality has been a slow one. Ever heard of the Virtual Boy Nintendo made in the 90’s? It only had the colors red and black. It was a massive flop and they’re just now getting back into trying out virtual reality. Obviously since the virtual boy, technology has gotten much better. I think there is much potential with placing yourself in a space where you are completely surrounded by the world the story is being told in. I’m looking forward to when VR becomes cheaper and wireless. The less boundaries there are the better. I have seen a bit of worrying going on that concerns people being too intimate with the VR experience. Wearing a VR headset with headphones is a convincing way to remove you from reality. I think if it is done in moderation and users take the headset off every hour or so to check what is going on, things will be fine. AR is something I have had more experience with. I have seen it used in museums to give more info on exhibits. Some even include animations. Pokémon GO introduced many to AR too.

“Virtual and augmented reality have also provided new tools and approaches for the presentation of narrative and poetic works of electronic literature in immersive environments.”

Expanded Cinema, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

I’ve read through Scott Rettburgs chapter on Divergent Streams and, I have got to say, that the from that really sticks out to me would have to be “Expanded Cinema, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality.” The reason why I felt like that one seemed the most interesting to me is because I have always been the guy that’s fascinated buy tech that can put us into another place without even having to leave your own home. I never thought that we could live in an era that Virtual Reality would be a possibility, you would be able to truly experience the fictional world for yourself by truly being the main protagonist and going onto an adventure that you’ve always wanted to go on when you where just a kid.

“3D or even “4D” cinema experiences are now commonplace. In a somewhat humbler way, expanded cinema has also crossed over into electronic literature, as a number of writers and artists have produced works that apply techniques and approaches common in electronic literature in the construction of cinematic experiences.”

This explains that even things like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality as well as Expanded Cinema can work, fantastically, in electronic literature by telling us a story and having to choose your own path or, in Augmented Reality case, play Pokémon Go because It is a great example of Augmented reality which is adding a virtual feature inside of the real world and you progress by catching Pokémon and leveling them up but in order to achieve said goal, you are going to have to actually walk around town which, I think, is an amazing mechanic.

Interactive Installations

Interactive installation is a form of Divergent Stream that is most interesting to me. This form can use various styles of storytelling, such as kinetic text and prose. I am a writer; I can see myself working within this genre and using kinetic poetry and hypertext fiction as a way to let others interact with my work to see what they would do with it. From what I have gathered from the text, performance art can be included in this genre. I find it interesting that language can be used as a signifier. The text explains it as an artist applying paint to canvas. This is interesting, I have never thought of language being used in such a way, and certainly not in a performance art setting.

The possibilities are endless in virtual and augmented world. Imagine if one can project a poem at an exhibit where anyone can interact with the poem, such as Tony Stark (Iron Man) interacting with his holographic projector and change line breaks and moving words around so the poem can take on a different meaning. I can also imagine users interacting with the hypertext fiction. For example, if the user can interact with an author’s hypertext fiction in a 3D, or virtual reality environment where words seems to float in midair; with a wave of a hand the users can advance the story. I imagine this being on display in place like Disney World’s Epcot Theme park. This would be a great and fun way for the genre to become mainstream.

3D Literature

Based on the several divergent streams that Rettberg discussed, I personally found expanded cinema the most interesting. This is because I personally have a deep interest in cinema, and the idea of altering cinema to become more and more interactive is very appealing. I also believe that cinema is ever-changing and likely will never die out. A big part of this is because the genre is ever evolving, and the forms of expanded cinema that Rettberg discusses only provides more examples of how the genre might evolve over time. I find it likely that cinema will become more interactive as the years progress, but honestly I doubt mainstream cinema will ever get to the extent that Rettberg discusses. For example, Rettberg talks about interactive films where the viewer ultimately decides which events unfold. This has already happened with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch on Netflix, and although I can absolutely see a special event showing of a film in theaters where viewers vote on the decisions of the characters, I highly doubt something that niche would ever become a mainstream viewing experience. Some literary possibilities within virtual and augmented worlds could include the viewing of films in virtual and/or augmented reality, which is already becoming somewhat popular, or even a truly interactive story written with the users decisions in mind. An example of this might be like a virtual reality version of those old choose-your-own-adventure text-based games, only hyper realistic. Since text-based games already were extremely popular, I could absolutely see virtual reality version becoming somewhat mainstream as well.

Dylan Niehaus – 3D Literature

The “divergent stream” brought up by Rettberg that interests me most is the use of locative technology in a narrative way. I have always found locative technology to be incredibly fascinating. If I am bored and have nothing to do, one thing I do to pass the time on occasion is just look around and explore the world on google earth, just to see what different locations in the world truly look like from up above. Locative technology has already been gamified in an incredibly successful manner with the mobile game Pokemon Go. But, while pokemon go is a successful venture into the locative technology game market, it is completely lacking in narrative. I have yet to see or hear of any successful mobile game that tells a story by directing users to real-world locations. As Rettberg brought up, locative technology can hold many possibilities in this regard, one of them being the idea of guiding the user along the tracks of a criminal in the real world.

Rettberg also brings up the fact that locative storytelling has been used in a purely audio sense, such as guided tours of a specific location. I myself have experienced this form of locative storytelling when I visited Alcatraz island in 2004. I remember being handed a cassette tape or audio player of some sort and a pair of headphones and being guided through the prison as different stories, facts, and details of Alcatraz were told to me through the audio device. Unfortunately, I was too young to be truly interested in or appreciate the stories being told, but I do definitely somewhat remember the experience. With things such as virtual and augmented reality on the rise, I think it would be amazing to see the “audio museum tour” be taken to a new level. Once augmented reality becomes more commonplace, it would be possible to add amazing visual elements to these audio tours by showing the events themselves unfold right before the user’s eyes. One story I do vaguely remember in the audio tour of the Alcatraz prison is the story of inmates that managed to escape or almost escape. Maybe with the addition of augmented reality, being able to not only hear the story but also see it unfold as it did in the very same location that it originally took place, I would be able to remember it more vividly.

Shy Boy and a Apple

Shy Boy by Tom Swiss is a visual poem. This style of poetry is language in motion. This motion style of poetry fits with the theme of the poem. The words moved in and faded away like the central character (the boy) in the poem who wished to go unnoticed. We can see this style of motion language in many films during the credit sequence. On my first read , I did not catch all of the text; I had to read the poem again to understand it. As mention earlier, the motion of the language did fit the theme of the poem; I like this style of poetry.

A is for Apple by David Clark is an interesting poem. I really do not know what to classify this style of poetry, so I’ll classify it as concrete poetry. There were text and images on the page. From what I can make out of it, it seemed to be the definition of the word apple. Of course, the visuals did help the spoken word, which is interesting. The shape of the words strengthened the poetry; it added more weight to the main idea of the poem (if that makes any sense). I know poems are open to interpretations, after listening to the poem, I read the poem as being about the genetic engineering of food. We tend to want food to be big and juicy. We interpret the food size and color to mean delicious; this causes the food industry to modify food to look delightful.

Blog 6: Kinetic and Interactive Poetry

Tom Swiss’s Shy Boy is short yet conveys quite a bit to the readers. The poem is a representation and a voice about a boy who left in the shadows and wants to disappear. The movement of the text and rectangles convey ideas such as melting and vanishing. These movements enforce the idea that the boy is at the end of his rope. through this imagery, we can feel that he can’t bare his life anymore because he has lost his strength and will. In the end, the boy dies and is left as a ghost to reminiscent on the times he was alive. The music in the background acts as a sort of limbo. You feel as if you are floating and observing the boy before you. In Ingrid Ankerson’s Cruising poem, however, takes a very different approach. For starters, Ingrid narrates her poem as she shows us black and white photos of a car on the road unlike Swiss’s which has no photos. Some catchy guitar music plays in the background, giving the atmosphere a feeling of freedom and fun compared to the more classical and solemn music in Swiss’s. If you hover your mouse in either direction the photos will zoom past music. This interaction gives you a sense of control, similar to how you would control the speed of your own vehicle. Although her poem moves her text, unlike Swiss’s, does not. The text above the photos remains stationary until you hover over the screen; then the text starts to blur like the lights from a row of cars passing by. As the reader, I don’t feel like the floating onlooker like I did in Swiss’s poem. I feel as if I am in the car cruising with her, enjoying life and not giving a care in the world.