This mutable poem explores how memory can be affected by the passage of time by using a fascinating tool, the RiTa.WordNet library. This collection of words is associated through a variety of semantic and conceptual relations so when Soderman uses it as a data set for word substitution (as he did in “Cloud #1”) it creates a cognitive language trail. The challenge this text poses is that it creates a different substitution every second, effectively creating a textual moving target as it follows different cognitive trails. The ringing bells in the audio track reminds us of the passage of time and as some texts attempt to revert their signifying trail we sense the irony in attempting to reverse time.
Its changing background color represents the shifting contexts in which texts are received and by using color contrast draws attention to certain details and swallows others, as seen below.
Consider how far this memory has come, shaped by language even when a faithful reconstruction is desired. As you read this poem, think about how we attempt to represent the past through narrative and how our word choices are integral to that process. How do our stories and our recollection of them change over time?
Featured in Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2.