This haunting soothing work is made of equal parts narrative, game, and poem. Its different “play modes”— wordless, whispers, story, and feeds—allow audiences to experience it (respectively) as an interactive ambient musical art piece, a kinetic concrete poem, a story, or an artistic interface for Twitter. Except for the last, each mode is layered on the previous one, which helps train readers to successfully navigate the work. The added incentive of unlocking achievements through the Game Center, encourages readers to continue exploring the work by providing a sense of progress and a roadmap of curiosity and expectation.
This poem’s paradoxical title is a key to understanding its design and strategies. The subject’s presence and absence from a location is made possible through the passage of time, as the speakers search and imagine his whereabouts. The generated lines are structured to form a dialogue: a call and response that builds and recedes in length and intensity, like tides on the waters depicted in the map. A third or fourth voice (perhaps from the missing one) scrolls in from the background, becoming legible when it reaches enough contrast in the image. The scheduling of texts in this poem enhance the uncertainty of attempting to locate a moving target by keeping readers constantly reassessing what they’re reading.
The gorgeous map provides a sense of place while inviting readers to explore its surfaces.