This hypertext narrative poem was written in HyperCard and published by Eastgate Systems in 1993. Using multiple interfaces and links, it tells the interconnected stories of the inhabitants of this small town in Colorado opening spaces for the readers to weave in their own narratives into the work. Its free verse lines use unadorned diction, paying careful attention to the impact of line breaks and varying line lengths in delivering a story.
A story beneath the surface is one of obsolescence. She developed Marble Springs 1.0 in Hypercard and a 2.0 version, which remains unpublished. Apple’s HyperCard authoring software, along with Eastgate’s Storyspace, popularized hypertext in the late 1980s and developed a market for hypertext literature. With the rise of the Web in the mid 1990s, Apple abandoned development of HyperCard and completely discontinued any sales or support in 2004, along with their Classic Environment.
Twenty years after its publication, version 1.0 is still for sale, even though opening and reading it requires old Power PC Macintosh Computers running Mac OS 9 or earlier or running the Classic Environment (discontinued after Mac OS 10.4) or using emulators, which is beyond the technical capabilities of most readers. Eastgate Systems has published an excerpt on the Web (linked to in the title to this entry), but purchase only if you’re a vintage Macintosh computer collector or have a knack for running obsolete software in emulators.
The Deena Larsen Collection in the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), in addition to preserving hardware and software donated by Larsen, has drafts, notes, sketches, and multiple versions of the work. Their Marble Springs page offers video documentation of a draft running in emulation and an artist’s statement that offers a creator’s perspective on software obsolescence.
So for the past two decades, Larsen has circulated this work through installations— and not the software kind. This image shows Deena Larsen sewing printed pages from Marble Springs onto a shower curtain as an analog (and “glitch-free” —Inman Berens) representation of a hypertext. In 2011 she started an online 3.0 version of Marble Springs using WikiDot, since she retains the rights to her work (thanks to Kathi Inman Berens for the information).
If you visit the Electronic Literature Showcase at the Library of Congress this week (April 3-5, 2013), MITH, or your friendly neighborhood Media Archaeology Lab, you might be able to see it some of the original and analog representations of the work. Alternatively, you might be able to attend a performance with Deena Larsen (here’s an image from her presentation at the Showcase).