Final Project: “Drive”


When the time came for me to start thinking about my final project, there were a couple of specific works and concept presented over the course of the class that led me to create the project that I did. Being exposed to a multitude of works that are categorized as multimedia fiction such as Cityfish by JR Carpenter and FilmText by Mark Amerika were especially inspiring to me. For me, the combination of a plethora of different media elements such as text, sound, video, imagery, and more in able to form and drive a narrative are indicative of what is possible with electronic literature that cannot be obtained with literature presented in a physical format.

Additionally, the work Pry by Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro, as well as the video components in Cityfish were influential to me. The use of digital cinema in order to drive the narrative of a story is both aesthetically enjoyable and is familiar and digestible for most viewers. Cinematographic works are an enjoyable source of entertainment for a vast amount of people across the world. Incorporating cinematic elements into works of electronic literature add visually stimulating elements to the work and often are used in harmony with other forms of media. For instance, in Pry, the reader must interact with the screen by prying or shutting the main character’s eyes. Not only do the video elements enhance the narrative of the story, but the interactive elements also allow the reader to navigate through and take control of how the story is presented to them. This is yet another aspect of electronic literature that cannot be obtained with a print medium.

As I began my project, I knew immediately that a web-based format would suite the requirements of the project well. Not only am I comfortable working with web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, I knew that without a doubt that the medium that is the web can be used to incorporate all of the media elements that I wanted to use. This included text, video, imagery and sound.

In regards to the narrative componenet of my work, I’ve incorporated a selection of clips that a friend of mine and I acquired during a car ride. This was originally a test of the camera of my new phone and a gimbal that I had bought for it, yet these clips came out to be surprisingly well. I’ve edited all the clips in Adobe Premiere to alter the color of the visuals. In addition to the video elements of the work, the textual elements represent a more dark and saddening theme. When the time came to write out the story of the work, I’d decided to write about the awkward and heartbreaking experience of being in a car with a significant other in the midst of an argument/break-up. While the story is fictional, it is regarding a topic that is relatable to most everyone: the final and often hurtful final interactions we have with someone we once cared for. I hope that the relatable nature of the story both resonates and intrigues the readers of the story.

In order to navigate through the story, the reader enters the site and is instructed to play the background audio presented in the beginning. The reader is then tasked with scrolling across the page while playing each video in addition to reading the passage presented with it, repeating this until the reader reaches the end.

The construction of “Drive”, as well as my participation in the course has been both challenging and transformative, as I’ve learned a great deal about an area of literature that was previously completely foreign to me and have since been able to create my own piece of electronic literature within the sixteen weeks of taking the course.

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Cinema Writing – Pry pt 2

In the second half of Pry, there are many details that come to light that are kept under wraps in the first half of the story. In chapter 5, there is more information regarding James’ eyesight, when Luke gives him another job after initially firing him because of the issues revolving around his eyesight. We also gain more insight into Luke’s character, as he is trying his best to give James as many opportunities as possible despite his challenges. This chapter follows the same format as the previous chapters in regards to how the reader navigates through the story.

In chapter 6, the story’s format changes slightly. The reader is faced with reading through a long selection of text, as one would read a body of text traditionally. However, by prying the screen between two lines of text, different visuals appear that show James’ relationships with different people, most notably with Jessie. In this chapter, we begin to pick up on the close relationship James and Jessie had at one point.

The Epilogue shows visuals of both George H.W. Bush, as well as George W. Bush on the television, describing what appears to be both the Gulf War and the Iraq War, respectively. The reader can infer that James is watching the television at both moments in time, and there is a video of James going off in the truck that was seen in the Prologue; indicative of the fact that there is a perspective from James from both before and after he goes to war.

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Cinema Writing – Pry

Pry is an engaging story about a man named James who is a demolition consultant that comes back from the gulf war and experiences vision failure throughout the story. This grants the reader the opportunity to explore not only what James experiences in reality, but his thoughts as well. This creates a story that is linear in the sense that it moves from chapter to chapter, yet can be engaged with and explored in a plethora of ways, as the reader gets to choose whether to explore James’ thoughts or the reality in front of him.

The story’s prologue provides some useful insight that assists in the understanding of the rest of the story. The prologue is not interactive like the remainder of the story; it is simply a video of a young man who goes off to what is apparently the beginning of his military career. We are also introduced with some brief imagery of some individuals from his military past that appear throughout the rest of the story.

Moving into the main part of the story, we can see that James is constantly struggling with both his reality and his perception of reality, both in regards to his thoughts and his hallucinations. In chapter 1, we noticed that as James is attempting to wake up, he is experiencing a hallucination/sleep paralysis of a woman from his past who is appearing to be trying to harm him. Along with this, his thoughts also provide an extra layer of insight which adds to the overall narrative of the story.

As the story progresses, the reader gains further insights as to how his past is affecting his present through his thoughts and reality. The interactive elements of Pry allow the reader to acquire a vast amount of different perspectives on this matter, and the reader can choose how in-depth they want to explore each chapter. Definitely an interesting and engaging work!

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Divergent Streams

This chapter of Rettburg is especially unique in the sense that he discusses some of the more modern and advanced methods and technologies used to create and enhance electronic literature. The section of the chapter that interests me the most pertains to locative narratives and how the incorporation of data regarding our locations assists in the creation of narratives.

As stated by Rettburg:

“The majority of locative narrative projects share a common interest in the relationship of physical space and geographic location to the narrative and poetic dimensions of literature” (185).

The addition of the element of location can enhance the narrative of a work by giving the reader a sense of visualization to base their understanding of the work on. For instance, if a given work of electronic literature takes place throughout Portland, Oregon, the addition of a visual representation of where the story takes place on Google Maps adds to the overall narrative of the work. The incorporation of something such as Google Street View would also add a visual element to a work and would thus add another narrative layer to the work.

The fact that Google Maps is an open API that anyone has access to and may use for their project grants authors of electronic literature the ability to incorporate elements of location into their work. Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood for instance is a set of stories that are tagged with a location on Google Maps, and each story is located on different points on a Google Maps view of New York City. Being able to see on a map where each story happens to be pinned adds to the narrative and gives the reader an idea as to why each particular story is written as it is.

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Network Writing

As stated in the first sentence of Rettburg in his chapter on Network Writing, he states that network writing is created for and published on the internet, and that the internet has vast potential for collaboration. The fact that most of society is literate on the web makes network writing a form of writing that is readily accessible and  understood by web users everywhere.

Flarf poetry is a movement that places an emphasis on how language and technology collide to create works that express, as Rettburg puts it: “the arbitrary and idiosyncratic flood of texts that marked the adoption of the Internet in our lives”. The flarf work degenerative and regenerative is based on a webpage that loses a character of HTML markup each time the page is visited until there is nothing left of the markup. The fact that the page destructs at such a fast pace speaks to the idea that the internet is constantly browsed by individuals everywhere, and the results that arise over the course of the deconstruction of the page is interesting, to say the least.

Social media also provides various opportunities for network writing. Twitter is a platform that challenges writers to work around the constraints of a short word limit, all the while presenting the text in a format that strings together sets of text; an alteration from the typical reading experience that a traditional novel provided. Different social media platforms are frequented quite often by web users and as a result, works of Network Writing are easily accessible for reading and collaboration.



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Multimedia Fiction

Out of the works that we were presented with this week, I chose to explore Mark Amerika’s FilmText as well as J.R. Carpenter’s CityFish. The most prominent comparison that I’ve made between these two particular works of multimedia fiction is that they both contain a plethora of different kinds of multimedia all at once. In the case of CityFish, you are immediately presented with a series of text, images and links that will either take you to other parts of the webpage or will present embedded videos. In regards to FilmText, you are presented with a series of animations that are accompanied by background images and links that present a series of texts and/or.

Mark Amerika’s FilmText shares commonalities with interactive games. When exploring the work, you are tasked with navigating through what is described as an empty desert landscape by moving through a series of eight levels. Throughout these levels, you may click on a series of items that present various imagery and text and on each level, there is a text box that appears and will present a message in the form of code; an interesting and creative way to present a message.

J.R. Carpenter’s CityFish on the other hand is far more story-like in the sense that the reader is tasked with moving across the page from left to right, circumventing through a set of text, images and videos. The story describes a girl from Novia Scotia named Lynne, who visits and experiences New York. All of the media components on the page help provide perspective for the reader in an interesting and engaging fashion.

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Kinetic and Interactive Poetry

Although all of the works of kinetic and interactive poetry presented to us for this week’s discussion are interesting and engaging in their own right, the two works that stand out the most to me are Rain on the Sea and Sound Poems.

Jörg Piringer’s Sound Poems are a selection of six different poems that allow the reader to actively engage with his webpage by allowing the reader to click and/or drag letters and boxes that in turn create various sounds. As mentioned by Rettburg, sound poetry has roots in both Futurist and Dadaist movements. While engaging in Piringer’s work, the influence from these movements, especially Dada, are quite apparent. From an outside perspective, this work holds almost no similarities to the traditional poetry that most people are used to. Jörg Piringer’s Sound Poems have a quality of defiance to traditional poetry due to the work’s avante garde nature.

Rain on the Sea by Y0UNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES on the other hand deals with the genre of film poetry, as it is comprised of a poem that progresses with fast cuts from one line to the next accompanied by a cinematic backing track reminiscent of music found in early 20th century silent films. The first works of film poetry actually emerged in the early 20th century, with works such as Marcel Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema (1926) and Len Lye’s Trade Tattoo (1937), where analog techniques were used to create kinetic poetry similar to what we are seeing today (Rettburg 130). I myself am quite comfortable with the medium that is film so therefore, despite the fact that the text on the screen came and went rather quickly, enjoyed how the poem was presented to me in Rain on the Sea.


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Interactive Fiction and Narrative Games

Out of all of the games presented in regards to the scope of the discussion, the two that stood out to me the most were Jason Nelson’s Game Game Game and Game Again and Porpentine’s Howling Dogs. While both of these works of interactive fiction are different and unique in their own ways, they both speak to how a small, close-knit community of individuals can create meaningful and entertaining games through a variety of platforms.

Howling Dogs is a work of interactive fiction created with the platform Twine that explores the idea of how games and hypertext fiction play on each other to create a storytelling experience that also feels game-like, as opposed to a more traditional story. As stated by Rettberg:

“While the underlying principles of Twine are based in hypertext, many Twine games have also adopted conventions from interactive fiction, such as second-person form of address to the player character, spatial navigation through the narrative, and a sparse, economical style of writing” (Rettberg 105).

Howling Dogs certainly displays some of the characteristics of a work of interactive fiction described by Rettberg. The player is placed in what is described as “A room of dark metal” and is given the option to navigate through the game by choosing through a selection of hypertext links that take the player through a variety of different scenes.

Game Game Game and Game Again on the other hand, is much more “game-like” in a traditional sense, although it does have its quirks. The player is tasked to navigate through a set of thirteen levels by using the arrow keys and space bar to move and jump, respectively. What makes Game Game Game and Game Again especially unique however, are the narrative elements that are added to the experience, such as the home videos that pop up on the screen and the graphics that hint at a particular message that Nelson is trying to convey.

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My Boyfriend Came Back from the War

While I’ve explored all of the works presented to us for this week’s blog discussion, I’m particularly intrigued by Olia Lialina’s work “My Boyfriend Came Back from the War”.

One distinct feature of Lialina’s work in comparison to other hypertext fiction works is that it is far more linear and finite. Each link will only bring about a few more options for one to click on before the link disappears, forcing the reader to move on to the next link of their choice. Additionally, my personal experience in regards to navigating through the work led me to read it in a similar way time after time, due to the fact that the entire work laid out on one screen and my natural inclination was to navigate through the work from left to right.

The defining feature of “My Boyfriend Came Back from the War” that sets it apart from other works of hypertext fiction is Lialina’s use of animated and still imagery to enhance the story. As stated in the Net Art Anthology article in regards to the work,

My Boyfriend Came Back from the War highlights the parallels and divergences between cinema and the web as artistic and mass mediums”

Lialina does an excellent job of incorporating imagery into her work by both maintaining certain images on the page throughout the work, as well as by creatively turning certain images into links that lead either to other images or to text that progresses the story further.

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The Future of Hypertext

Image result for hypertext

With the emergence of hypertext in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, it was seen as both the end of print culture as well as a precursor for the future of how information would be viewed and consumed on the web. In a sense, it served as a bridge from how we used to read information, both fictional and factual, to how we currently do so.

Hypertext certainly allows for the opportunity to express in ways which are limited by print. Shelley Jackson states in regards to her work Patchwork Girl that she thinks in things arranged in a place, and the use of hypertext allows for her to create in a way that is more conducive to her creative method. Additionally, the in class reading of “afternoon, a story” exemplified how many pathways one may take while reading a work of hypertext fiction. While navigating through the story, the reader may gain a plethora of different perspectives based on how they choose to navigate through the story in a way that is clear and concise, something that is not possible with a printed work.

While social media has pushed aside the use of hypertext as of late, the re-emergence of hypertext through platforms such as Twine has allowed for authors to re-explore how hypertext can be used to form an intriguing story through a simple and usable interface. Furthermore, web users familiarizing themselves with social media has in turn familiarized them with hypertext. Referring back to Shelley Jackson, she states:

“Regular web-users already understand implicitly how to read a hypertext; they may not be accustomed to thinking about what they’ve just read as akin to novels and stories, but they will”.

The concept of how hypertext works is a familiar concept understood by the common web-user, which in turn will allow for non-linear storytelling through hypertext to regain prominence in today’s world.

Sources: “Stitch Bitch: The Hypertext Author As Cyborg-Femme Narrator”, Mark Amerika

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Hypertext Fiction and “The Babysitter”

While Robert Coover’s work titled “The Babysitter” is by no means a work of hypertext fiction in a literal sense, it certainly holds many of the same characteristics that a hypertext work contains. The story begins at 7:40 in the evening and gradually progresses through the evening until 10 and in this sense, it follows a linear path. Additionally, the setting and characters of the story are all described early on.

Yet, as the story progresses, there are a plethora of different scenarios that are described throughout the course of the story. The story appears to shift from the perspectives of many of the characters. One paragraph will describe the thoughts and perspectives of the babysitter, while the next may describe the perspective of Jack, her boyfriend or even Harry (Mr. Tucker). While the constant shift in perspective may create a sense of confusion for the reader, it also provides more freedom for the reader. The reader isn’t bound to the parameters that the author of a linear story provides, rather they have more freedom to experience the story in a way in which they see fit.

Hypertext fiction works in a strikingly similar fashion. Readers can click on a selection of links that will take the story in a particular direction based on their selection. This empowers the reader to take the story in a direction that they see fit and can provide a cause for discussion surrounding the different story’s that readers can create.

Rettburg briefly mentions Twine’s influence on multi-linearity and hypertext. Twine is an excellent example of how a reader can choose the path of the story. In Twine, a reader is encouraged to click on a link to progress them through the story, and they are often presented with multiple links in order to choose the direction of the story. Twine is a platform that has allowed for a vast amount of storytellers to explore multi-linearity and hypertext in a user-friendly fashion. As Rettburg states:

“More prevalent uses of multi-linearity in hypertext include the representation of cognitive associations between nodes and shifts in point of view on the same events.”  (Rettburg 59).


Electronic Literature by Scott Rettburg

“The Babysitter” by Robert Coover

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Taroko Gorge and Combinatory Poetry

The concepts and ideas behind combinatory writing provide insight as to how poetry can be manipulated and enhanced through technology. Nick Montfort developed his poetry generator Taroko Gorge in the programming language Python, later converting the project to HTML, CSS and Javascript which not only made his work both easily accessible for web users, but also simple to hack and manipulate for other poets to engage with poetry through this medium. The open-source characteristics of Taroko Gorge allows for anybody to express their ideas through the medium of front-end web technologies and to expand the possibilities of what poetry can be by co-creating with the computer itself.

While analyzing some of the notable renditions of Taroko Gorge, it can be noticed that an infinite amount of ideas can be expressed through the generator by making simple adjustments to the source code. John Pat McNamara’s rendition, Take Ogre incorporates a background image on the webpage as a personal artistic decision to provide context for his work. The image of a desk and the impeding darkness of the night help articulate that he created his remix while isolated on Archill Sound, Ireland. Chuck Rybak’s remix, Tacoma Grunge explores themes of the Seattle Grunge scene while maintaining a minimalist aesthetic.

Each remix of Taroko Gorge is created by manipulating the keywords that lie within the Javascript variables, where the use of arrays organize the text. Due to the structure of the code that Montfort created, all of the numerous renditions of Taroko Gorge follow the same poetic structure, creating a sort of communal feel between each rendition.

While the work of Montfort certainly creates new possibilities for poetry and literature, it also has roots in the traditional ideas of  Surrealism. As stated by Rettberg:

“Surrealist writers and artists were just as likely to write together, and to freely mix image and text, as they were to write alone or in one medium” (Rettberg 25).

Combinatory writing and the work of Mantfort is not only a new and exciting form of literature, but is also a homage to traditional forms of art and poetry.





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Jarid’s Post

Hello everyone, my name is Jarid and this is my test post!

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