Shelley Jackson’s My Body – A Wunderkammer is a 1997 hypertext that allows the reader to explore a fragmented recounting of the narrator’s relation to their own body, and to the memoirs and accounts produced by the nature of this embodiment, whether textual, linguistic, social or physical. The text opens onto the image of a female body that is subdivided into sections of the body and the reader simply has to click on the relevant section that interests them to read an anecdote involving that section of the narrator’s body, which then includes further links to other anecdotes or body parts which are often only tangentially related to earlier sections.
The image of the clock in Here and There invites the reader to read the texts in order, perhaps starting at 12 o’clock; while at the same time it presents the challenge of breaking the structure and jumping randomly from one number to the other. In doing this, the reader might discover the echo in lines that evoke others or feel the weight of brief pieces that could stand as a single, definitive image. But what looks like a clock is really a chart much larger its scope. The lack of sound in this poem (which contrasts other works by Norman, like “Window“), underlines the vastness of the universe contained in the chart and which is also suggested by the images and the allusions to celestial bodies.
This occasional poem celebrates the presentation of “I ♥ E-Poetry: 500 Entries Later” at E-Poetry 2013 on June 19, 2013. Based on Montfort’s own “Taroko Gorge” source code, this stripped down version generates lines inspired by the title of this blog (“I ♥ E-Poetry”) using four variables: a subject, a symbol, a prefix, and an artform. Part of the pleasure of this piece lies in reading it aloud, especially its symbols, which represent words compressed into single characters. Montfort understands the computational aspect of these characters, encoded into alphabetic systems such as (Ascii and Unicode) and decoded by both machines and humans. These symbols carry great amounts of cultural information, referencing card suits and avant garde artistic and literary movements, such as the ‘Pataphysical apostrophe.
Note: you’ll need to allow pop-up windows to read this poem.
This minimalist e-poem influenced me greatly in my development into an e-lit scholar. When I first encountered this poem in 1999, I was impressed by its use of colorful pop up windows in different sizes and positions to illustrate how one can be alone, even when surrounded by others. The distinctive features of each window yield to a common look and feel as the all become the same in color and message, as seen below.
The yellow words that take over all the windows is a background image– an animated GIF alternating the word/phrase “alone” and “all one.” This repetitive sequence resonates with E. E. Cumming’s spatial juxtaposition in “[l(a]” because both poems provide compelling images of loneliness. Whether you are a leaf falling from a tree, detached (in death) from the company of other leaves, or a window surrounded by 15 other windows for a little while only to be left alone, in the end you are bound to feel “one.”
This work in progress is a wonderful example of how digital media can be used in an integrated way to create art that transcends traditional media and genre distinctions. As Suzanne describes the concept best in this artist statement.
I wrote a novel, and it was a poem, and I called it Into the Green Green Mud. But coming from an experimental theatre background, where script and performance are distinct entities, the text was only the beginning. How would I “perform” this novel? The standard performance of a novel is justified black text on white paper. But is that really the best way to explore time and love and change and the weather?
This minimalist scheduled poem engages our ability to hold language in memory in order to act upon it. The text is displayed on two spaces simultaneously, though the header stream begins first before the second one in the box begins to compete for our attention. Each text is displayed one word at a time at a rapid rate, faster than we have grown used to with works by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries or William Poundstone’s “Project for Tachitoscope.” In those cases the texts are synchronized to music, and potentially accompanied by other graphical elements, but Hatcher’s poem strips away all distractions from the text, which allows attentive readers to focus most of their consciousness on one of two textual streams, since it is virtually impossible to actually read both and make sense of them. You have to choose a track or risk having your train of thought derailed, so to speak, because of the speed at which they are displayed— 170 miliseconds per word (over 5 words per second).
This work is a kind of hypertext edition of Langston Hughes’ poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” contextualizes the poem by placing it in conversation with historical and biographical events, culture, music, poetry, visual arts, and its publication history.
Its interface is simple (though unexplained): when you click on an image of a line from the poem on the “Arriving” column the image changes to one from a different printing of the poem, displaying its date on the left, and loading a random set of lines and images on the “Departing” column. Each date brings up a scanned image of the print publication as a visceral lesson on the impact of the materiality and socialization of texts, as Jerome McGann demonstrated in The Textual Condition. The lines and images in the “Departing” column are excerpts from other materials— clicking on them brings up an image, text, or embedded video (note: currently works best in Chrome) beneath the column. The title links to an “About” page, which is a scholarly short article that goes into detail on the contexts, inspiration, and theory that informs the work.
This digital re-reading — operating as both a detourned archive and an artistic re-imagining — puts the many editions of Hughes’ poem in direct contact with a constellation of images, texts and voices that respond to its call.
This elegant hypertext poem consists of 28 links arranged on an excerpt from a book on bone biology. The links are barely distinguishable from the rest of the text, yet lead to poetic language that forms a distinctive contrast to the scientific text in the paragraph. The relation between the two texts isn’t simply tonal counterpoints: they are deeply interconnected, metaphorically and especially thematically. One key to understanding these relations is in the first link, which leads to the image below:
This diagram maps a relationship, showing alternatives paths a couple can take when faced with the kind of situation described in the scientific text. See where the paths lead and you’ll note recurring elements, most of which are not positive for the health of the relationship.
This work of generative Internet art presents an essay to readers that reads like an essay written by a graduate student that has done nothing but read Postmodern theory for years. The result might be brilliant, nonsensical— perhaps both— but it exists on a different reality as the rest of the world’s and is likely to have little impact on anything. You might as well pump all that high theory into a machine and put together a little program to produce some semi-random output from that lexicon and then see if readers will read the results at face value.
For this piece to have any function at all, requires a mind that is eager to project meaning onto experience. If we expect an experience to be meaningless, our minds certainly do not bother to piece together the chaos of clues that make the world comprehensible. With Chomsky’s famous pseudo-sentence “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” for example, we undergo an initial attempt to identify a meaningful message. Convincing the mind to choose at the crossroads between potential comprehensibility and inevitable noise is an important task.