DTC 338 | Will Luers | CMDC @ Washington State University
Pry pt. 2
The second half of Pry further expands on the previous user interaction method. This is done by evolving the prying open and shut interactions to view through the main characters and thoughts, to being able to flip through different camera shots and make them last however long the user wishes.
This portion of the narrative, in Chapter 7 was especially interesting to me, since it seemed to be trying to convey an even more cinematic approach to narrative storytelling. Being able to watch each shot in the scenes however long one wanted made it feel as if I was editing the scene to have the timing that I felt was most interesting. I would be interested to compare how long the people made each shot of each scene last, and see if it gave the scene a different effect than what I experienced.
I also found it interesting to play around with how the shots looked overlayed on one another, just in case any imagery was hidden. However, I found nothing out of the ordinary for Pry from this method.
My interpretation of Pry is that it is about a man who enlisted in the military at a young age, although his eyesight was destined to deteriorate rapidly throughout the years. He developed many relationships with several people, one of which was a girl named Jessie. She died in an accident of some sort, and the main character continues to blame himself for her death. He works with his friend named Luke, who he does not trust because of the way he encourages reckless behavior if the main character and others.
Throughout Pry, there are themes of grief, guilt, deceit, PTSD, etc. most of the narrative is the main character trying to comprehend his thoughts caused by anxiety disorders from his real thoughts. Pry takes a non-linear look at how someone might deal with emotions and try to understand themself while dealing with several nearly debilitating issues (anxiety, PTSD, loss of eyesight, etc.).
One of the main sections of Pry that intrigued me would be Chapter 3 with the read-aloud braille. I found this intriguing because in a digital-screen setting, braille seems to be essentially useless. However, I feel that this portion worked well with the main character reading aloud as the user ran their finger across the screen.
Another section that I found intriguing was Chapter 4, where the main character is paranoid that his friend is going to try to kill him. I liked how Pry shows this paranoia by blurring the main characters normal vision, thus encouraging the user to see his subconscious, which ends up being riddled with possible murder weapons and different deaths. I feel like this connected well with the introductory portion of the app, where the main characters girlfriend attempts to kill him in a jump-scare as well.
These two moments in the app both contribute small details to the constantly growing story, hinting at different key factors that the user should take note of. One of these especially being that the main character has a fear of being murdered by those he cares about.
I feel that the combination of text and video in this app works very well, and the exploratory method of “prying” between video and text and a combination of both makes it very intuitive for the user to traverse whichever of the main three narrative structures that they want to, whenever they want to (within the allowance of the narrative).
I think that this work is about a person with PTSD and/or schizophrenia. I believe this because the way the narrative plays out and provides us with both reality and subconscious fears is very similar and accurate how it feels to have real-life anxiety. It becomes hard to distinguish between what’s actually happening and what is a fear, and I think the constant switching between conscious and subconscious helps to blur the separation and make the truth even more indistinguishable. The flashbacks and worst-case-scenario subconscious beliefs definitely hint towards this work focusing on a character that has some sort of mental illness.
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.
In the works chosen to explore this week, I had the most emotional response from heyharryheymatilda by Rachel Hulin. I also believe that this work was the most accessible example of “network” out of all of the works. Rettberg defines network writing as “electronic literature created for and published on the Internet. It may require readers to visit multiple sites to experience the narrative, […] or use the network as a site for performance” (Rettberg 152). Heyharryheymatilda does this by using Instagram’s photo sharing platform as almost a scrapbook. Instagram is already a well-organized app and using this interface works well since it’s already basically an online scrapbook. Following the scrapbook analogy, heyharryheymatilda is able to evoke various emotions from users such as nostalgia, happiness, joy, and even sadness. The literary value of this work is found through the formatting of the captions, similar to love letters. This also evokes emotion, especially because this is something that many people can relate to. The love letter aspect definitely made me think of my girlfriend and my love for her, which made it especially easy for me to enjoy the work. This piece especially stimulates my thinking about the networks we live within, because it feels nostalgic in such a way that makes me reminisce about looking through scrapbooks as a kid. This makes me wonder if in the future, scrapbooks will follow this same sort of digital platform, and if they do, will they be able to become nostalgic for those even moreso in the future? The same question applies to love letters, will they become purely digital, and if they do, will they have the same impact as a physical love letter does?
This week, I chose to take an in-depth look at the works “Loss of Grasp” and “How to Rob a Bank.” Loss of Grasp generates words through mouse clicking and every once in awhile it seemed as though the words showed up based on a timer. If I clicked sometimes a word would show up, but other times it would take awhile to actually show up, hence my suspicion that it also used a timer to precisely decide how long the user must interact with certain words and phrases. This timed text combined with the ability to click around on the screen creating expanding circles of color and different sounds creates a world that to me felt like a representation of what it’s like to think to yourself. Seeing those circles of color reminded me of the times as a kid where I would close my eyes and rub them hard and see all of the colors that would show up. I don’t know if this was the artists intention, but it’s definitely what the work made me think about, and I found it very immersive because it felt as though I was in my own thoughts. This work is a fiction based on the fact that it is not based on or referencing anything in particular. I believe if there is any character in this work, then it must be the user.
In How to Rob a Bank, the world is generated based on a fake iPhone screen, by clicking through it switches between various “scenes” within the phone, such as two characters texting each other about several things throughout the course of the story, news articles, images, social media, etc. Since this is the kind of world we see every day on our own devices, it was especially easy to become immersive, since I am so used to being able to become immersed in the sole technology in my hands on a daily basis. This work comes across as more of an obvious work of fiction than Loss of Grasp, mainly because it is much easier to tell what’s going on and gain a clear understanding of the plot and characters. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end.
This week, I chose to focus on Rain on The Sea by YoUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES and SOFTIEs by David Jhave Johnson. I found that with SOFTIEs, although film poetry is more often considered to be films with subjects performing spoken word poetry while different imagery passes by, SOFTIEs works almost as its own form of film poetry. There is still imagery passing by, but the teext is incorporated into different parts of the “scenes” that Jhave has created. I think the imagery he chooses to show in the film portion of his works (water dripping, etc.) serves as a sort of symbolism that connects to his poetry. For example, in “” it shows dripping water on a dark surface and reads “the cold lines, blind meanings, reap is war” “the cold lines” could refer to the water dripping, which could be symbolic for something much darker (blood, etc.). When I looked at Rain on The Sea, I found that is blatantly portrayed futurism, with its stark white background and plain black text flashing intermittently. I really enjoyed this piece and found that it was very successful in provoking emotion. I think this was partially due to the text flashing by so quickly it almost didn’t give my brain any chance to process it other than the immediate meaning of the word that was flashed. The work has a very dark undertone, accusing the user of murder, etc. and the fact that these accusations were flashing by so quickly helped cause a sense of urgency and desire to know what the user supposedly did in this work.
I chose to look at With Those We Love Alive and Howling Dogs. With Those We Love Alive has a more personal aspect to it, since there are specific questions about the user once they start the story. This makes the game seem much more personalized and customizable, which is something many people enjoy. Howling Dogs seems much darker because of the white text on black background, and has no personalized features whatsoever. This game/story comes off more as a way to read a story by clicking links, rather than the user being immersed in the narrative. Howling Dogs has a clear goal, which is plainly: progress through the story. With Those We Love is a bit more open-ended and seems as if it may have a more complicated goal such as: taking time to experience the story and question the meaning behind it. It feels more like a journey than Howling Dogs. The works engage with imagination in similar ways, they both feature very vivid imagery throughout their storytelling.
I chose to explore Grammatron, which featured several similarities to hypertext. The combinatory poetics of gradation reminded me of several works of hypertext that we looked at, especially since it did not seem to have a strict guideline set upon itself when it comes to formatting. Many of the sentences that lashed on screen changed their formatting and switched between common sentence structure to haiku structure and other simple poetic structures. This piece differs from hypertxt fiction however, in the sense that it is achieving a more immersive feeling for the audience with the combination of simultaneous audio, video, and text. I found this very interesting, and it made me think that the style of this media would make a compelling horror story (especially since this piece played out very similar to a horror story itself). I think combining the idea of a machine taking over the viewer with flashing imagery, and a frankly disturbing audio track in the background would be much more cohesive in a video format (and would have the potential to be quite the frightening film).
I see the future of hypertext fiction evolving as a literary form that will become much more accessible for people. I think that it’s a given that everyone has the ability to write hypertext, but not everyone is aware of hypertext, thus creating a genre that is somewhat rare. Since Twine is such a streamlined software, that I can see it’s popularity growing even more throughout the years, as us and technology evolves. The link-based structure and nonlinearity of hypertext allows artists to express their ideas in a way that comes as close to entering their individual thought process as possible. Nonlinearity has been around since the Soviet Montage Theory of the 1920s and has only evolved since then, and will continue to do so. Nonlinearity has been expressed through literature, film, etc. and I believe it has a place in every art form.
Coover’s story “The Babysitter” works as a model for later works of Hypertext by creating a nonlinear narrative path without using electronic tools. The narrative directly involves the reader by providing them with various perspectives on the same story and not directly revealing which perspective is which. The narrative switches between perspectives along the way, which can cause further confusion for the reader. Because of the way that “The Babysitter” is formatted, the reader must infer which perspective is which, and try to formulate a coherent story from both the information they are given, and the information they are not. This story makes sense as a precursor to modern Hypertext because modern Hypertext tends to feature fragmented narratives that are connected through various “hypertext” links. “The Babysitter” works as a Hypertext narrative without the technological advancement of Hypertext. In other words, the narrative could be easily translated to modern Hypertext and have a similar effect on readers today.
I think these works were authored by taking an original poetic work and then creating a code/program/etc. of some sort that selects certain keywords that can be replaced, and then allows for artists to input their own chosen keywords to completely alter the original poetic work. I take the meaning of these texts to be quite literally a way to take a poetic structure and alter it by having different artists/authors input several keywords which then have the ability to change the meaning and adverse effect of the poem as a whole. The different versions of Taroko George prove to be a way for artists to collaborate in a way that still allows for individual self expression. Combinatory poetics within these works allows the reader to distinguish their own interpretation of the various artist interpretations of the same work. This is especially proven by the fact that more recently, combinatory poetics have “tended toward simplicity” (Rettberg 41). The simplistic nature leaves interpretation up to the reader, rather than more complicated works, which can sometimes create a more direct explanation of the artists’ original thoughts for the work.