“Connected Memories” by María Mencía, programmed by José Carlos Silvestre

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Screen capture from "Connected Memories" by María Mencía, programmed by José Carlos Silvestre. Snippets of text in faded typewriter print.
Open “Connected Memories” by María Mencía, programmed by José Carlos Silvestre

This narrative hypertext poem creates a web of semantic and spacial associations between short excerpts from interviews of refugees living in London. The ethnographic dimension of this piece lends weight to the work as one realizes that these snippets of text are from people’s life stories. The keywords that float on the screen and pull up narrative fragments can be understood as tags in a database. Some common ones (listed in Mencía’s site) are:

war run away prison money walk university pressure shoot government refugee passport kill papers documents survived help job work understand country afraid scare understand place went back flat successful happy mother father family brother sons daughter fear prison accommodation hotel room scared interpreter husband wife country help english job flee detention asylum life college memories integrated forget pregnant border genocide religion escape agent airport illegal rape hide money belong foreigner services lost after you university shoot militia extremist speak hospital travel frighten live children settle pressure

These are not light matters, and the interface wisely treats them with respect, connecting them in ways that strengthen their voice collectively. As readers select words on the screen, narrative excerpts appear, along with other instances of the same keyword and other related ones. As one continues to activate and read other texts, previously selected ones remain on screen for a time, slowly rotating on a three-dimensional axis until they eventually fly apart in multiple kinds of animations and fading away.

This evokes a sense of the oral origins of the piece, not in their kinetic qualities, but in the way they linger: present but not quite re-readable. These clips are a visual echo of their screen utterance— reverberating throughout each unique performance.

Featured in ELMCIP Anthology of European Electronic Literature