This hypertext multimedia work by the late master remixer Randy Adams is an homage to the World Wide Web. Adams describes his impetus “to create a hypertext[url] Web art work that pays homage to the World Wide Web and, on the other hand, pokes some fun at it” and “to utilize and interpret, exclusively, text and images found on the web.” To achieve this he embarked upon a constraint-based writing described in detail within the project, but best read after experiencing the work.
This is a generative poem you can visit for years and continue to find things to surprise and delight. It is structured around a text— aptly named as “a strand” (as in a fiber or rope made of letters or characters)— which is shaped by “aspects,” which are programmed structures that shape and transform the strands through color, animation, scheduling, formatting, and other transformations possible in DHTML. Considering there are 10 “strands” (plus a “user-fed strand”) each of which can be shaped by 36 different “aspects,” each of which can have multiple controls and toggles, you don’t have to do the math to realize that this is a work of staggering generative possibilities. Combined with a few randomization and combinatorial touches, this is a work that will always welcome you with fresh moments, inviting you to play with its structures.
Originally published in BeeHive 3:4 (December 2000), this poem maps human experiences, narrative, weddings, funerals, and memory onto the ebb and flow of waters in tidelands— those coastal regions where rivers flow into the sea. The metaphorical relations between tidelands and individual and collective experience, past and present, knowledge and intuition are enacted in the use of hypertext and layers. This layering of text and image makes some lines and words difficult to read, breaking with the tradition of sequential arrangement of texts to draw attention towards new juxtapositions and the blending of human experiences. The poem also references estuaries, islands, and water during high, low, and neap tides— lunar and maritime cycles presented as a female analog to the more masculine solar solstices and equinoxes that have received such archetypal attention.
This is a work worthy of rereading and reflection to allow its language and images to ebb and flow in and out of your conscious mind.