I have to admit that I was never into poetry until I decided to take a creative writing course that involved writing poetry. Nevertheless, I became intrigued after learning poetry is about word play and using words to create sound effects by using alliteration, and assonance. During this semester I learned about kinetic and interactive poetry and how digital poetry can be use on digital platforms such as Twine. I teamed up with Joel because his knowledge of Twine is far superior than my own.
Joel and I came together and started brain storming ideas about the themes we wanted to explore. We settled on writing about human emotions, and how these emotions can cause one to feel isolated, as well as turn violent. We wanted the poems to loop, by creating an infinity cycle of birth and death, like Ouroboros. We chose certain words within poems to shake to signify violence. We knew with Twine we could create effects with words we would not able to on the printed page.
The process of coming up with poems to fit the themes we wanted was a bit of a problem. I had asked to see the poems that Joel was working on to see if I could come up with the poems we needed to help complete the infinity cycle. I noticed the word, “virtuous” and then I wrote a poem, Vindicator (in five minutes) about a violent man who was boastful and fearless in battle. I used alliteration to help create the hard “v” sound in the poem. When the poem is read aloud, reader/users can really hear the hard “v” sound effects.
I added an abstract poem about love to help complete the circle. I wanted the show the effects of love and how it could be abused and be used to destroy. The hard thing was writing a poem that could show and not tell. I also did not want the poem to beat the users over the head with what I wanted the poem to convey. I purposely did not include the word love in the poem to allow the users to wonder what force could build and destroy, as well as be abused.
Twine allowed Joel and I freedom to experiment with words and manipulate them like objects, so the users are not only reading the poems, they are also watching and interacting with the poem instead of reading stationary words. The black backdrop on Twine worked perfectly for my poem, Black Flower. It helped accentuate the poem’s theme of isolation and despair.
Tom Swiss’s Shy Boy was an inspiration to me. After reading it, I knew I could also use a digital platform to express myself through poetry. I did not want to copy Swiss’s style of kinetic poetry but wanted to do something different with interactive poetry. When I teamed up with Joel for the Twine project, I knew we could use the platform to create digital poetry. I hope the user enjoy the work that Joel and I created, because I enjoyed creating it.
The prologue for Pry was interesting. I thought this piece of fiction was going to be a feature film. I knew James was going to enlist in the military because of the things he put in his pack. In addition, he took a piece of dog hair with him to keep as a memento. I cannot help but to think that Tarzan has a meaning. I assume the book could be some sort of foreshadowing for events that happens later. Luke and Jessie are important characters in this interactive fiction. It’s unfortunate that we see so little of Jessie in the first for chapters; I really want to know more about her. It’s interesting that we see a vision of her stabbing James. I did not see that part coming. I am also trying to figure out if Luke and Jessie tried to murder James, or if these visions related to James’s PTSD. It’s hinted that James is losing his sight. This is interesting because we do not know what cause the ailment. Ultimately, I think the story is about James dealing with PTSD.
I like the interface and navigation. It was like I was playing a game; I pulled me into the work. Cinema can not achieve such a thing. I initially had to ask a peer how to navigate from segment to another. I missed somethings because my hand covered some of the screen when I had pinch and spread my fingers across the iPad. I did miss some of the kinetic text in some of James’s visions. I can not wait to finish this interactive fiction.
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.
Some of the work (The Fall of the Site of Marsha) made me see home pages in a new light. I often ignore home pages when visiting websites. I tend to visit a website for specific reasons, the page is not one of them. I now realize home pages often have messages or stories on them. For example, when visiting a celebrity’s website, you will find a biography or a list of their works. The works have value; they made me realize how much time I spend on the internet as well as how much I depend on it.
From my point of view, the works actually parodied the web as well as show its flaws. I got a chuckle out of I Love Alaska. I used to use search engines to search for ridiculous things when I was bored out of my mind. It also made me think about auto correct. Some things I actually spell correctly, but auto correct will ask did I mean such and such? These works make me think about how absurd search engines (Google) can track our whereabouts. The Listener made me think about how much I depend on the Google Assistant. I ask it for direction, the name of a song, or the correct spelling of words. It often does not register what I am saying; I will often have to repeat myself three of four times until it registers what I am asking. The works made me see how much we are hooked into the Matrix.
Cityfish uses text, maps, and stock photographs to tell a story. It was kind of hard to follow the story. I had to read it a few times to get the gist of it. I clicked on some of the stars that read, “You are here” and was taken to another part of the story. When I did this, I ended up in the section where the fish was speaking to a lemon in the bag. This kind of confused me because it from fiction to magical realism. Lynne is the main character in the story, which tells of her vacation in New York. This work of fiction is abstract and immersive. This is not a critique on the work; I actually like it.
How to Rob a Bank, uses diaries, calendars, pictures and Google search engine to tell the narrative. This work of fiction uses common tools (Google search engine text messages) to produce the fictional world. Several characters in the story uses aliases after going into hiding after a bank robbery. The character’s newborn daughter (Alexandria) is central to the story. This fictional story is immersive because it uses the common tools I mention earlier to tell the story. I think the use of the web is what make this story work. I never imagine one could tell a story by using a search engine. I like this story, because it’s easy to follow. I didn’t understand the clips of
the Simpsons and baby instruction. What was these clips trying to imply?
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.
Howling Dogs and Deviants
I chose to play Howling Dogs, and Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw; both of these kept me engaged by allowing me to click on objects or text. I kept clicking to try to find out what was going to happen next. The experience was like playing a video game and trying to get the high score. I must admit, I quit Howling Dogs, because I could not understand the point of the game. The goals of the game were not clear. While playing Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw, I clicked until I could not click anymore. I assume I completed the game.
Howling Dogs, is a different animal altogether (pun intended). The game was engaging at the start. As I advance into the game, I felt like I was descending into madness; and then I clicked on the text “food and drink dispenser” to advance into the room with the ceiling fan if I am remembering correctly. This event leads into pulse which changed color every time I ended back at this point in the game. I quit after ending back at the point of the game after 10 times. I did visualize being in what I assume to be an insane person’s head, while playing Howling Dogs. The player character appeared to travel to alternate timelines (or imagine they did). I did enjoy having to visualize characters and setting while playing this game. This experience was like reading a novel. I just wish I new what the game was about.
Net Art: Coming Back From War
Olia Lialina’s, My Boyfriend Came Back from The War is the net art fiction I chose to read. Lialina’s net art fiction differs from the hypermedia styles, such as multilinearity, variability, combinatory poetics etc. She uses elements of HTML to convey a cinematic story. Her work of hypertext fiction tells the story of a young woman reuniting with her boyfriend after he returns from war. She uses browser frames, hypertext, and images. Lialina wrote her fiction is in a style she calls net language. Lialina states, “If something is in the net, it should speak in NET.LANGUAGE” The net. language style is emphasized in this work which stray amid cinema and the web as creative and mass mediums.
I like the interaction between the still and animated images. I feel that the interplay between the text and the images helps create a cinematic feel. It’s almost like watching a silent movie. I think it is interesting that the reader advances the story by clicking on hyperlinked, disconnected expressions and pictures. With each click on the picture or text, the browser viewport splits into several smaller frames. I did get a macabre haunting feeling from the still and animated images. This style of hypertext fiction works to really create a ghoulish mood. I actually thought story was going to go into a dark territory. Lialina’s work keeps the reader involved by using images to create tension. I kept clicking on the text and pictures, because I thought the boyfriend was going to return to his love damaged from the war.
Babies Babysitter and Hypertext
Robert Coover’s story, The Babysitter is a perfect model for post modern hypertext fiction, because it does not follow linear narrative. I can certainly see how Coover’s style influenced writers in this genre. I can see his use of branching path influencing writers such as, Mez Breeze. In her video game All the Delicate Duplicates, she uses objects to tell part of the narrative; by touching some of these objects, the players can travel to a different timeline. I most admit, I have not read many stories in this genre, the concept of none linear story telling where all possibilities are true is new to me.
As I read the Babysitter, it felt like I was jumping from one universe to another with each passage. The readers are the all-seeing eye looking at each possible time line/ multiverse. The first few paragraphs had a kind of Pulp Fiction vibe. I must admit the story was hard to follow, because of the multiple path. I was confused by the multiple path, especially the pin ball and girdle branching parts of the story. I could not figure out the point of the objects. If I wasn’t aware of hypertext fiction or electronic literature, I probably would have given up on reading the story; the story is not accessible to the average reader. I feel that this kind of story telling is excellent for role play games. It’s common for video games to have branching path where all the possibilities are true.
Gorge Taroko Gorge: Combinatory Poetry in Motion
While taking DTC 101, I learned about Electronic Literature. I was fascinated by the medium because I am a writer. Combinatory Poetics is style of writing that I have never heard of. While reading the text I found that it was part of the early avant-garde/ abstract art movement which I have never been a fan of. With that said, I do fine that Poems that I read to be exciting. The poem Taroko Gorge is about nature. It appears the poet admires nature. While reading the poem, the images of trees and rocks I seen while hiking last year came to mind. The poem Gorge is about the human body. It was as if the poet was a practicing coroner that was studying the human body; Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man came to mind.
I not familiar with source code. To be honest, I did not understand what the heck I was looking at. I can only assume that it was generated through an algorithm. While reading the poems I kind of felt like I was the scrolling text at the beginning of Star Wars. The way to poems are presented allows the readers to be part of the action. If a few lines were missed by the reader the first time, the reader would have to read it again to fully understand the meaning of the poem. It’s kind of like watching a movie again and seeing something you missed the first time. I would like to try my hand at writing this kind of poetry.