“Going through the Signs” by Jody Zellen and Deena Larsen

Screen capture of “Going through the Signs” by Jody Zellen and Deena Larsen. A first person POV of a bridge entrance, with a second window showing another bridge, this one curved to the right. Text: "(First bridge) / Step through / (Second bridge) / play it safe / without signs / do you follow flows?"
Open “Going through the Signs” by Jody Zellen and Deena Larsen

This collaborative hypertext poem uses a “page space” designed by Zellen to create a sequence of pop-up windows that last 20 seconds before closing along with links that lead to new pop-up windows, simultaneously closing the previous one, and leading to a final page with three thin vertical frames. This produces a powerful sense of progression in which the reader must press on or have to start over while not providing any way to get back to an earlier page. Larsen uses this structure to build a trail of consciousness which includes the thoughts of a character seeking a path and sense of purpose in a world that seems to have the former, but not the latter.

Read more about this work at ELMCIP.

“Noiselines” by Pedro Valdeomillos and Jason Nelson

Screen capture of “Noiselines” by Pedro Valdeomillos and Jason Nelson. Low resolution satellite images overlaid by diagonal text in tiles.
Open “Noiselines” by Pedro Valdeomillos and Jason Nelson

This collaborative poem is composed on a “page space” created by Valdeomillos to explore the signal-to-noise-ratio by placing interface, image, and text in a relation by which they create noise for each other. When compared with his collaboration with Lluís Calvo who provided an image and a text that provided a coherent signal, once one had sorted through the noise, we can see Jason Nelson’s goals to be quite different in its strategies and goals.

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“Insects” by Pedro Valdeolmillos and Lluís Calvo

Screen capture of "Insects" by Pedro Valdeolmillos and Lluís Calvo. A winged insect is superimposed over blurred pictures of other insects. Text: "Insects"
Open “Insects” by Pedro Valdeolmillos and Lluís Calvo

This collaborative poem randomly arranges lines of verse by Lluís Calvo over an image in a page space designed to explore its signal-to-noise ratio. There are three types of noise designed into this space: randomized line placement, a window size too small to read all the lines simultaneously, and an image at a zoom level too close to be apprehended. This requires readers to use its awkward interface to navigate the page space on a two dimensional plane, and to zoom in and out to find a workable signal to noise ration in which one can both view the image and read the text. The work is designed to frustrate the desire for a perfect setting, and so the reader must flutter about like a moth drawn to a flame. Calvo’s lines of verse engage the image thematically and are compelling in the images they evoke, all adding up to a surprisingly coherent experience and meaningful interaction.

Read more about this work at ELMCIP.

“Dibagan” by Brian Kim Stefans and Geniwate

Screen capture from “Dibagan” by Brian Kim Stefans and Geniwate. Extremely low resolution photograph of military ground forces in a warzone. Prominent blood splatter dominates left side of screen. Scattered words camoflage with the background. Text: "fisheye, consuming, history, knowledge, through, in the is, now, death, blood, confusion, forever, television, stumbling"
Open “Dibagan” by Brian Kim Stefans and Geniwate

In this collaborative poem Geniwate takes a relatively simple interface and page space designed by Stefans and makes it powerfully political. The audio recording of a reporter telling the story of surviving an RPG attack in Iraq, along with a photograph with a large drop of blood on the lens, make for a chilling backdrop for the poem. With this frame of reference set, the poem is presented as a stack of words at the base of five columns, which the reader can position by placing the mouse on the base of a column until it reaches the desired height on the screen. It takes some time to place and read the words on each column (which are readable both vertically and horizontally), which allows the looping audio clip and changing hues on the image clip to sink in for a visceral experience.

“untitled(to reconstruct)” by Jason Nelson and Jody Zellen

Screen capture from "untitled(to reconstruct)" by Jason Nelson and Jody Zellen. Grey background with cyan images and letters scattered throughout the image. Text: "City" "to reconstruct" "human beings from" "The observer" "images"
Open “untitled(to reconstruct)” by Jason Nelson and Jody Zellen

This collaborative poem places the same text Jody Zellen wrote for “Cut to the Flesh” into a page space designed by Jason Nelson (originally for “Branch/Branch” and “A Tree with Managers and Jittery Boats”). This tree structure is a fascinating way to organize lines of verse because it creates multiple possible readings as the reader opens up branches in the hierarchy. Its cascading effect is reminiscent of William Carlos Williams’ variable foot, richly analyzed by Eleanor Berry and many others as follows:

The variable foot has been taken as (1) a temporal unit, each step of a triadic line being equal in duration to every other (Donoghue, Weatherhead, Breslin); (2) a stress-based unit, each step of a triadic line containing a single major stress (Duncan, Hedges); (3) a syntactical unit, each step of a triadic line being a single complete phrase or clause (Solt, Hofstadter); (4) a unit of meaning or attention (Goodman, Hofstadter); (5) a unit of phrasing in reading, the triadic lineation constituting a score for performance (Wagner); and (6) a visual unit (Shapiro, Perloff, Sayre, Cushman).

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“Clippings” by Jason Nelson and Pedro Valdeomillos

“Clippings” by Jason Nelson and Pedro Valdeomillos

This collaborative narrative was written by Valdeomillos on a page space developed by Jason Nelson for his poems “Dreamaphage” (the first version) and “Between Treacherous Objects.” This space creates spatial layers with an intuitive navigational interface that allows readers to pan, scan, and move back and forth through layers each of which reveals a portion of the narrative, which is structured by a conversation about memory, photography, past, present, and how much you might know someone that you love. The images, textual arrangements, and layers create clusters of spatially organized language that gesture towards poetry with its lines of verse and stanzas.

Take a look at Jason Nelson’s poems built from this engine and notice how their structure is so different from how Valdeomillos arranges his narrative in this piece, attesting to the versatility of Nelson’s page space.

“Cut to the Flesh” by Deena Larsen and Jody Zellen

Screen capture from “Cut to the Flesh” by Deena Larsen and Jody Zellen. Words overlaid by question marks on lightly textured background. Text: "The world disintegrates rapidly./Can one trust a reminiscence"
Open “Cut to the Flesh” by Deena Larsen and Jody Zellen

This multimedia poem was written by Jody Zellen, using a “page space” developed by Deena Larsen for this collaboration. Each of the question marks responds to a mouseover by triggering a line of verse moving diagonally across the poem’s surface along with a sound. The title’s reference to the flesh and the use of heartbeat, sonogram, and voice recordings saying things like “breathe” all reinforce a surgical conceptual framework, and metaphorically framing the diagonal language movement as cuts, slashing across the screen. The occasional variations in the sounds and word movement place the poem in conversation with some of the urban concerns which are so central to Zellen’s poetics, while the literalization of a metaphor through interface design is part of Larsen’s.

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“Biggz” by Loss Pequeño Glazier and Simon Biggs

“Biggz” by Loss Pequeño Glazier and Simon Biggs

This generative poem is built from four elements: an image, a caption, lines of verse by Simon Biggs, and a JavaScript framework Glazier developed for “White-Faced Bromeliads on 20 Hectares.” The poem and its contextual information are randomly generated whenever the page is loaded, reloaded, or every 20 seconds— which makes a marked difference in how one reads and conceptualizes the poem when compared to “White-Faced Bromeliads,” which refreshes every 10 seconds. Biggs’ lines of verse are perfectly grammatical, but unconventional in its logical formulations in the tradition of Language Poetry or Gertrude Stein, which makes them stand up well to the page’s generative engine.

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“When You Reach Kyoto” by Brian Kim Stefans and Geniwate

Open: “When You Reach Kyoto” by Brian Kim Stefans and Geniwate

This collaborative work is built using Geniwate’s (Australian writer Jenny Weight’s nom d’ordinateur) “concatenation engine” and Stephans’ images and text. This “page space” is a computational upgrade to the cut-up, because in addition to randomly joining lines of verse, it cuts them further and places them in different positions of the page, creating multiple lines and readings of the same text. The gorgeous oversaturated images of urban and natural landscapes serve as a backdrop for an explosion of letters in different font sizes and lines of free verse, all of which serve as links to the next piece of the concatenation. The sound clips are nowhere nearly as pleasant as Brian Eno’s “Burning Airlines Give You So Much More,” which has a line that inspired the title of this poem, and perhaps some of its postcard-like visual design and conceptual language choices, such as the frequent use of “you,” “she,” and references to writing.

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“non-LOSS’y translator” by Simon Biggs and Loss Pequeño Glazier

Screen capture of “non-LOSS’y translator” by Simon Biggs and Loss Pequeño Glazier. Black background with binary code in green. Text in different colors on top. Four big, purple circles and two small ones.
Open “non-LOSS’y translator” by Simon Biggs and Loss Pequeño Glazier

This authoring software was created by Simon Biggs as part of the Page Space Project, a collaborative experiment in which e-lit writers would create a page structure for another to write in and produce a work of electronic literature. Biggs created this structure to encode the characters typed by into “a number of different languages, including English, Greek symbols, the decimal ASCII codes that map keyboard keys to typography, the binary codes that equate to these, Morse Code and Braille.” This odd word processor also resizes the characters as you type to fit the entire text on the screen space, doing so until it reaches illegibility.

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