Long Blog Post 2 – Ask me for the Moon

Ask Me for the Moon: Working Nights in Waikiki

            “Ask Me for the Moon: Working Nights in Waikiki” is a non-linear work of digital poetry created by John Zuern, an English professor at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. The work was first published in the Iowa Review Web in 2005. The poem begins as a series of white words fade in and out against a black background. The words intermingle with one another in such a way that the reader feels a sense of ebbing flow, similar to the waves on the shore. Slowly, the Waikiki night skyline appears, with the words continuing to wash in and out beneath the Waikiki scene. Eventually, the intro ends, leaving the reader with the choice of several different photographs from a collage to click.

From this point, the poem becomes non-linear, allowing the reader to choose his or her own path in the poem. Each of the five options available from the main menu branches into its own sub-menu, complete with several options of its own. Many of the choices have sounds to accompany them, mostly consisting of a combination of waves and working noises in keeping with the poem. Additionally, several of the poems end in larger amounts of text in paragraph form outlining particular points that Zuern wants to highlight. Throughout the poem, black, white, and a few shades of light turquoise dominate the color scheme, giving the work the feeling of a rundown resort.

The actual text of the poem emphasizes the life hidden beneath the commercial side of Waikiki – the life of the workers in the shadows, of an island overrun, and of a culture forgotten. Through its simple black and white text, the poem mourns the loss of indigenous culture to tourism and vacationers. One of the most textually effective techniques that Zuern employs is the morphing a sentence into another by allowing all of one sentence to fade from the page except for a single word. Then, another sentence will fade in, incorporating the word left by the first sentence and allowing it to take on a whole new meaning. For example, he writes at one point, “in frigid kitchens in florescent corridors all work.” Next the entire sentence except for the word “work” fades to black, eventually being replaced by the phrase, “work is night work.” This method of replacing the sentence around the word to change its meaning helps to illustrate his point in a way that plain text would struggle to do. Just like the word, Waikiki’s beach and tide have remained, but they mean something completely different to the tourists who now walk the beach at high-end resorts than they do to the people who work the night shifts to earn a living and than they did to the original Hawaiians.

Several portions of Zuern’s work include short phrases and paragraphs by philosophers and political theorists. Each of these paragraphs appears at the end of a section, often along with a paragraph or two that explain the motivation behind that section of poetry. Throughout, however, the feeling is one of despair; a feeling that broods of a culture on the brink of collapse looking back at its simple glory in pre-colonial times. The quotes included by Zuern reflect such a feeling.

Something that I found frustrating about the site was the inability to return to particular places or portions of text. With no written table of contents or simple menu, there was no way to return to or find a quote that I was interested in re-reading. Although this made the text more difficult to explore, the inability to return continued to demonstrate the theme of the poem. Just as I was often unable to return to a portion of the poem that I enjoyed, so the original owners of Oahu were unable to return to their land that had been turned into resorts and private beaches. As I began to realize this, the site’s design, layout, and features began to make more sense to me, and I started to appreciate it in ways that I had not before. Without the digital design, much of the feeling, motion, and sounds of the poem would be lost, and the poem would fail to have the intended effect on the reader. In this way, Zuern utilized the digital aspects of the site to create a true digital work of poetry.

 

Source: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~zuern/ask/

Long Blog Post #2: The Evidence of Everything Exploding

“and from these languages comes another language”

–a greeting on the opening panel of the game/poem/animation

After a frustrating twenty minutes of clicking, dragging, and guessing, I finally began to appreciate Jason Nelson’s creation of this interactive digital poem. My frustration came not from an inability to maneuver the project, but rather by attempting to find justification to classify such a thing as poetry. I struggled to find any literary value in the actual text, however the fashion in which it is presented to the reader, or in this case the player, categorizes the experience as nothing short of intriguing and perplexing.

The poem is presented as an interactive game in which the reader controls the movement of the cursor through a labyrinth of obstacles, checkpoints, and words. At each checkpoint, an explosion occurs on screen followed by an image, a short animation, or box of some sort that proposes a new subset of text. The text only appears on screen for a limited amount of time. At several points throughout the game, I had to revisit the same checkpoint several times to read the entirety of the flash of text.

Not unlike flarf poetry, the text is borrowed from an unrelated source and reorganized in an attempt to create meaning. The “about EoEE” pop-up explains the author’s source of text:Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 4.16.59 PM

At first, I rejected this whimsical explanation. Perhaps the text truly derives from a treasure box discovered under layers of glacial ice. But more likely, it is another radical poem, an extension of the experience of the larger game. It is another way for the author to challenge the definition of literature. The list of “wondrous evidence” at the bottom of box provides a satirical ah-ha moment for the game. What makes this pop-up box, as is the entirety of the text, such a vital part of the poem is the way it is presented. The pop-up was a result of an accidental slip of a pointer finger onto a hyperlinked icon in the upper corner. It is entirely possible for the reader to complete the game without reading that piece of text. I felt that I was in control of the text. The animation and pop-ups depended on my active participation and willingness to play the game.

However, I had no control at all. As the game player and willing reader, I was a the subject on manipulation, not the text. Words are not simply given to the reader, but parceled out as a reward as the reader progresses to higher levels of the game. The author has complete control over how the reader reads, while the reader feels that he or she is in control of the game –an unprecedented expression of poetic metaphor.

By entering a new level of the game, the reader commits to moving forward through the poem. There is not a “back” option to re-play the previous level or return to the home screen. As the reader, I must constantly be alert and conscious of my moves, as each one permanently changes the experience of the game.

I have yet to discover the purpose or meaning of the repetitive animated explosions. But one thing I am sure of is that I hold on tighter to my Shel Silverstein collection as the category of poetry stretches to make room for interactive, digital, verbal games.Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 3.47.12 PM

Explore EoEE or check out other projects by Jason Nelson such as Birds still warm from flying

 

Long Blog Post #2-“RedRidinghood” by Donna Leishman

When I came across this piece of electronic literature on I <3 E-Poetry.com I was initially very excited, because I saw that it drew inspiration from a short story by Angela Carter that I love. Her story, “The Company of Wolves,” is a reworking of the traditional story of Little Red Riding-hood that spends the first three and a half pages beautifully describing the sinister wolves. Angela Carter does an amazing job of making the reader sense something ominous in the story before picking up on the familiar tale. She also manages to make the readers feel afraid of the wolves and sorry for them at the same time, through beautifully crafted lines such as “The long-drawn, wavering howl has, for all its fearful resonance, some inherent sadness in it, as if the beasts would love to be less beastly if they only knew how and never cease to mourn their own condition.” The story is twisted but wonderfully written, and ends in a somewhat strange sexual encounter between little red riding-hood and the wolf–who is described at the end as “tender,” suggesting that perhaps the display of love has tamed him.

Anyway, I went into exploring this work of electronic literature with the hope that it would be an interesting extension of her story story, or a similarly interesting adaptation of the original Little Red-Ridinghood story, but was sorely disappointed at what I found. There were no words in the program other than the initial “Once upon a not so far a way” that the “reader” clicks on. The plot would have been extremely confusing if I had not already known about the Angela Carter story. It begins with Little Red Riding-hood being handed a basket from her mom, then the “reader” clicks on a picture of a forest in order to shift to a scene with Little Red Riding-hood walking through a forest. wolfShe is followed by an animal that appears to be a raccoon, and then the scene changes to her being approached by boy with very hairy arms (who I know from the description is a boy/wolf).They don’t have much of an interaction other than looking at each other, and then little red riding-hood starts picking flowers and falls asleep in the middle of the forest.

The “reader” has the option of making her dream or just waking her up, and the dream is the most interactive portion of the story, but I was very confused as to the purpose/ what was happening Untitledduring the dream. It dead ends at this scene (which I don’t understand at all) for a few moments until you hear an alarm clock beeping, and return to Little Red Riding-hood laying in the field.

red 1

 

The rest of the story moves very quickly, as the reader sees the wolf/boy approach the grandma, zoom in on her scared face, and then see little red riding-hood approach her grandma’s house. She finds the wolf/boy laying in the bed, and then the last scene is her laying on the bed. She appears to be pregnant (?) and the wolf creepily pulls up her eyelid as she is sleeping (or at least I hope she is sleeping and not dead).

red 3

Untitled

My experience with this work of electronic literature was similar to seeing a movie made out of a good book. Something about another person’s visualization of words isn’t satisfying.  I think that is the main reason why I am skeptical of electronic literature of this nature. Part of the experience of literature, mainly fiction and poetry, is the reader’s imagination. Nobody experiences texts the same way in their mind, and that is the beauty of it.  The black and white words on a page of a book become transformed into a vivd world in the reader’s mind, and I do not think that process should be expedited by someone else creating those images for us. When the experience involves images already present on the screen, it reduces the possibilities associated with a given work literature. While I am a die-hard fan of print literature, I can appreciate the merit of some forms of electronic literature that craft words in a different or unique way, such as the words flashing across the screen at different paces. Yet even so, I believe that part of the craft of writing is creating the same reading experience only using words and punctuation. Perhaps the craft of writing is expanding to include other techniques such as this, and I am still willing to include those types of works in the genre of “literature,” but nevertheless I find it less impressive. However, when electronic literature takes the form of “RedRidinghood,” where it is more of a video game, I do not believe it even comes close to counting as literature.

 

Longer Essay #2: Stud Poetry

Marko Niemi takes an interesting approach when creating his piece of electronic poetry called Stud Poetry. I found it to be completely distinct to all the other pieces of electronic and conceptual literature we have dealt with in class. Although we have already dealt with some that are structured like games, what makes Stud Poetry most interesting is the fact that one is gaining and loosing points. This aspect of the game made me more competitive and I wanted to play for longer. It is even structured like a competition, since one is playing against other “people,” who are undoubtedly not real because they are famous. One finds themselves playing against the literary figures: Paul Verlaine, Paul Valery, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, and Jean Moreas, which can even transform the game into something more exiting.

The best way to describe this game of electronic poetry is by calling it poker game, but instead of using cards one uses words. Each card dealt has a single word and in order to win, one has to create the strongest five word hand of poetry. For example, in one of the rounds I played, I had in my hand an “observe” black spade. The other words on the table were fresh, nature, afar, rich, and skin. As one can see, one is creating a five word hand poem composed of rather simple words. Although this changes the whole nature of the game, it is still structured in a similar manner to poker. One can bet, call, raise, check and fold just like in a real poker match. There is even a button that allows one to change the pace that the game is moving by.

Overall, the webpage is designed in clear manner, which allows people like me, who are not computer savvy to manage the website easily. It is arranged in a grid. The left column is titled Poets, which includes the list of actual imaginary poets one is playing against and you. The next column is titled Money, and shows you how many chips you have. One originally starts off with a hundred. Then you have the stake column followed by the hand column, which shows you what word card you have and directly next to it, some of the revealed cards from the competitors are shown.

This is an aspect of the game I liked because when dealing with many of the other electronic literature we have seen in class, I felt like I had a hard time maneuvering the webpage, not only because I am not computer savvy but also because the websites were sometimes not clear. For example, when exploring Sarah Bailey’s longer essay two poem called Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw, it was not made clear to me what I had to click. I know it was about exploring, but it would have made it more interesting if the author gave the player something to look for.

The only aspect of the poem that by nature is flawed is the fact that the assigned value of each word is flawed. Not only is this un-measurable because there is no established value for words, but it really changes the nature of the game. It is not really about making the best five word poetry hand as possible, it is more about just getting the five most valuable cards possible. Even if someone has a hand that makes more sense, and is better quality, does not mean the person is going to win. One can even get repeated worlds and win more points just because the card has more value. In this sense, one can see how the game follows the rules of poker more faithfully than the rules of poetry. This transforms the electronic poetry into purely just a game.

In conclusion, I think that Stud Poetry, as piece of literature, does not really have great value. It is not that Marko Niemi did not have an interesting idea in mind, but the fact that it is hard to assign numerical value to words, especially when being arranged up to a sentence of six, makes it hard to convert Marko’s idea into a piece with literary value. Overall, the best way to evaluate Stud Poetry is within the whole realm of electronic literature. In this perspective, I think Marko Niemi has presented an innovative idea and is demonstrating some of the paths electronic literature can take in the future. It pushes the boundaries in a way that other electronic literature has not done, and as a result I think that it aid electronic literature reach its fullest literary potential in the future. No matter what, Stud Poetry was still very interesting and fun to play.

 

Black Womens Leggings – Leather Look

There is no doubt these black ladies leggings from dresshead online will turn heads anywhere you go! The leather look is always hot and sexy and wearing these will give any woman the thin and slim look they want. The slim line fit of these pants will definitely do your body favors. They are fit around the hips with subtle stitching and wearing them will add definition and curves to your hips. These leggings also feature pockets for your hands or belongings on both sides. These will quickly become one of your most reliable pair of pants, suitable for colder weather as well as lounging around the house. Pair them with a nice blouse for a dressy, youthful look. The waist size is65 cm and the hips are 86 cm. The length of the black womens leggings is 100 cm and the front crotch area is 27.5 cm. The after the crotch area is 34.5 cm.

Longer Blog Post #1 – The Feed and the Loss of Individuality

In this post I will examine Feed by M.T. Anderson and how this novel explores the melding together of humanity and technology and how, through this integration humanity itself is lost. The Feed is something that is transplanted into ones brain that allows them to instantly access databases and all manner of internet 2.0 type things any one can imagine. To begin, what is interesting about the ‘Feed’ itself is where the author decided to place it in his characters. The implant was placed directly into ones brain; this allowed for instant access to all manner of things, it also gave corporate interests direct access to your thoughts and personal information. The author, in determining the Feed should be placed inside someone head, is making a claim that there is no longer any boundary between man and machine. What distinguishes mankind from everything else is our ability to engage in logical, conscious thought, we are creatures of instincts in some ways, but we have the ability to consciously determine our own lives. In the modern era, while it is becoming harder to do so, we can consciously choose what messages to ignore, what advertisements to turn off or ‘x’ out of as quickly as possible. The internet now is just the beta version of what the Feed is in Anderson’s book. Already today corporations and data miners have the ability to arrange your Facebook home page to include advertisements targeting you. If you change your relationship status, within a week you’ll start getting online dating advertisements; if you ‘check in’ to a lot of local restaurants you may start seeing advertisements for other nearby restaurants. This is all happening now, but we can easily ignore it; there is a barrier between us and the machine. So perhaps, in this context we have still maintained our humanity. In the world of the Feed this separation is nonexistent. The Feeds allows private interests to interfere with your thoughts. In a sense, there is no way to exercise any type of control over your thoughts and interference from outside sources; they become one and the same. Before we go any further, there is a matter of human agency. In theory one can stop interacting with the feed, or perhaps not even get the implant (only 73% of people have it) but one has to wonder if there is really a choice here. To begin you have to receive the implant early, otherwise it will have dire health consequences (as Violet’s case shows), and on top of that, is it something one could simply refuse? To do so means communication between yourself and others may be significantly different, perhaps more difficult. If you were to get the Feed, how easy would it be able to tune out a finely working machine that gives you access to anything you want instantly, with products and information tailored to your consumer profile? The Feed seems to turn human agency on its head, rather than do nothing and remain disconnect as is the case today (social networks are available to most people but not all and its easy to stay off the grid if one chooses, also in order to get onto one of these sites it takes a conscious effort to sign up, upload pictures ect), in the world of the Feed, to do nothing is to succumb to the Feed and have your inner most self exposed to all who wish to see it. It takes conscious effort, a herculean effort to stay off of the Feed in Anderson’s book.

The Feed blurs the line between the individual, his/her ‘profile’ and the community and others on the Feed. It seems to degrade individuality into something simply based on what you choose to consume. Everything is part of a larger system except for your tailor made corporate profile, and that is merely a database on consumer preference. Titus experiences this loss of individuality when, at the end of the story, he cannot draw upon anything other than movie trailer quotes to attempt to describe his memories of Violet to her as she lay in a coma. There seems to be no individual experience, just shared ones, perhaps you could also make the leap that there is no individuality.

The novel also seems to suggest that too much technology may be bad for you. Those logged in to the Feed begin to develop lesions on their bodies which some seem to wear as a badge of honor. When Violet’s Feed begins to malfunction her body begins to rapidly deteriorate. Also in the dystopian future the air has become polluted beyond repair and the water has become toxified. All of these things show the negative side to too much technology. This story can be seen as sort of a warning of the not too distant future that awaits us if we don’t change somethings.

Longer Essay #2 – Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw

I was browsing through I ♥ E-Poetry.com, and I came across what is described by the author, Donna Leishman, as an “animated interactive graphic” (Leishman).  It is titled “Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw,” and it is based on the historical account of the demon possession of an 11-year-old girl named Christian Shaw in 1696 during the witch trials.  The landscape of this piece of “literature” is presented almost entirely in a non-textual way, although there is one instance of text at the very end which tries to explain the historical background underlying the graphic.  The user “reads” this graphic by clicking and hovering over certain graphics which open up separate screens and tell part of Christian’s story.  Although the real story takes place in 1696, the graphics are modernized.  Many of the images or videos are quite disturbing — appropriate for the subject of demon possession.  Many of the graphics are various plants that seem to serve no purpose to the story but change as your mouse hovers over them.  I got to go through the story four times, and each time I found new things to click on which revealed more parts to the story. There’s no way of knowing if you’ve ever explored all of the possibilities!

The graphic starts out with a blank screen with a clickable picture of what looks like an upside-down tree:
Deviant 3

After clicking this image, a scene of the town of “Balgarran” appears and a sad melody plays in the background.  The windows of the skyscrapers emit eerie tones that harmonize with the melody when your mouse hovers over them.  Among the things you can click on are the cross steeple of the church and a ladder that seems to be emerging from a tree (there may be more that I am not aware of).  Here’s what the opening page looks like:
Deviant 4
I first clicked on the cross steeple on the church and a window popped up with a repeating video of a  preacher sleeping at his desk. If you click on one of the drawers of his desk, a Bible appears. The first page of the book contains some of the only text in the program which says, “I am the right Reverend James Brisbane minister to Kilmacoim. I am new to Balgarran.” Upon further clicks, the “Bible” turns out to be a secret case that holds a voodoo doll of who you expect to be Christian Shaw:Deviant 5There are various other paths that can be taken from this screen, but the first time I “read” this graphic, I clicked on the alarm clock which presumably wakes up the reverend and sends you back to the graphic of the town.  Now there are several items to click on, and the story of Christian Shaw begins.  There is an image of two fires burning in barrels over which Christian warms her hands.  To click to different pages within the pop-up box, there are little X’s that are easy to miss.  Upon clicking the X, Christian turns into a scary old hag:
deviant 6

Not many questions are answered about why certain things happen to Christian.  One video shows the reverend taking her into a room of scientists.  She inexplicably spits out a burning coal.  Another video, presumably after she has been “possessed” shows her with red eyes and bending over backwards at an impossible angle:

deviant 7

One of the final “episodes” in the graphic includes Christian standing before a panel of what look to be religious figures and scientists.  As she is standing there, you can click on people that pop up on the bottom of the screen.  As you click on them, they are thrown in a jail cell.  When all six people are collected, a scene of a burning building appears.  As your mouse wanders over the building, windows appear and you realize that the people you captured are now burning alive in the building.
Deviant 8

This disturbing video concludes the graphic, and a page pops up with text that explains the history of the 1696 possession of Christian Shaw and how this graphic tries to tell her story.

The text explains that Christian’s case was one of the most well-remembered cases of “demonic possession,” and that 6 people, 3 men and 3 women, were put to death as a result of being accused of causing the possession.  The account recorded many of the strange happenings that are depicted in this graphic.  The doctor examining Christian supposedly saw her spit out a burning coal that was too hot for anyone to touch. There were also documented accounts of Christian contorting her body into impossible positions and retrieving her glove from the ground just using her mind — both of which are shown in the graphic.  Christian’s case was found to be written by anonymous author and very much in the style of many of the accounts of Salem witch trial cases just four years prior.  Recent historians speculate that the author of the case may have been influenced by the witch trial accounts and may have been fabricating Christian Shaw’s case in order to “prove” the existence of the Devil and God. While it is still very much a mystery as to what actually happened to Christian, it has been confirmed that 6 men and women were killed in the little town of Belgerran on June 10,  1697 (Leishman).

Leishman concludes her graphic with this explanation:

“My personal response on hearing this tale, was one of curiosity, something rang untrue about this 11-year-old, daughter of a Laird, who mischievously conned all these erudite adults. Then the visual aspects of the story – the eyes retracting into her head, her body bending double… seemed horrifically ridiculous and impossible, but my overall intuition led me to feel that Christian, our cultural memory of her had been unjustly distorted, ‘Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw’ is my sentinel to who I think Christian might have been, a re-imagining of her world.” (Leishman)

Because our image of Christian Shaw is so distorted by the unreliable account of her life, Leishman felt the need to reconstruct Christian with this interactive graphic story.  While it is only an account of who Leishman imagines her to be, it gives us an alternative and somewhat sympathetic view towards Christian Shaw and those who were killed — a strikingly different point of view from the anonymous author, who tried to incriminate Christian and the 6 men and women as evil and demonic.  Leishman’s work also retains the aura of mystery that still surrounds Christian’s case by not fully explaining the strange graphics throughout the story.  The “reader” is still left wondering what is actually happening to Christian.  Is she actually possessed? Do the 6 people have something to do with what is happening to her? What are the strange creatures that periodically pop up throughout the graphic? Just like we will never know the accurate historical account of Christian’s “possession,” we will never know the significance of many of Leishman’s graphics.

     It has been difficult for me to view this graphic as a piece of literature, much less some form of poetry. I can see that it has narrative elements, but it acts more like an interactive movie than a piece of literature. I didn’t feel that I was “reading” so much as I was “watching” what has happening to Christian.  However, the many pathways that reveal different parts of the story reminded me of the choose-your-own-story narratives or the Garden of Forking Paths that we read at the beginning of the semester — both of which I would consider works of literature. On the other hand, we never looked at “literature” in this class that was purely graphics, so I hesitate to say that “Deviant” counts as literature.

     It’s been fun to play with the graphic multiple times.  Each time I have discovered a new piece of Christian’s story, but unfortunately each new piece seems to be weirder than the ones before it.   I think this graphic is definitely worth exploring, and I’d love to hear others’ opinions on whether or not this would count as literature.

References:

Leishman, Donna. “Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw.”
Retrieved from http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/leishman__deviant_the_possession_of_christian_shaw.html

 

 

 

 

 

Long Blog Post 2: Anipoems

For some reason only a few of the gifs are working in the post. Click on the image to see the poem or follow the link provided to the collected poems. 

Something Old Something New: Placing the Anipoems of Ana Maria Uribe in a Literary Tradition

The poems of Ana Maria Uribe are simply a collection of animated gifs. Initially I hesitated before picking choosing this particular work; poetry has never been my forte and Ana Maria Uribe is a Spanish language poet. However, the electronic literature directory listed her as Spanish and English so I decided to click through and see what the poems were all about.

Conceptually Uribe’s poetry has its roots in the concrete poetry of the early 1900s. The words of the poem are arranged so that form literally mimics content. Guillaume Apollinaire’s Calligrammes are a great example of concrete poetry. Even though the text of the poem itself is in French, you do not need to understand French to understand that the poem “Il Pleut” is about rain. (To see more of Apollinaire’s work I have provided a link to a site not unlike the e.e.cummings site we looked at in class together.) Similarly the language which the text of Uribe’s poems is written in becomes irrelevant.  The text is arranged in such a way to resemble the subject of the poem itself. The Anipoem “Dry Red Leaves” features the words “hojas rojas secas” (which, according to Google Translate translates to “dry red leaves”) in autumnal colors. The “s”s tumble down the white background of the gif mimicking the motion of leaves falling to the ground in an autumn breeze.

Il Pleut (It Rains) by Guillame Apollinaire
Il Pleut (It Rains) by Guillame Apollinaire
Dry Red Leaves by Ana Maria Uribe
Dry Red Leaves by Ana Maria Uribe

While Apollinaire’s text is French and understanding of French is ultimately essential for a thorough understanding of the poem, Uribe takes the idea of concrete poetry and pushes it a step beyond simple content-form equivocation. In traditional semiotics a sign indicates a signifier. What this breaks down to is a word represents a concrete material object. What Uribe’s poetry does is have the letter become the sign. Singular letters become the ideas around which Uribe builds her poem. Those letters are then arranged into the forms of traditional concrete poetry.

The letter itself as art is then an extrapolation of the word as art or text as art. Like concrete poetry, this is a concept that goes back well beyond the tech boom of the 1990s (the animpoems were written in 1998). Illuminated manuscripts of the middle ages illustrate the blending of the literary arts with the visual arts. The blending of the two media allows the artists to express ideas with more exactitude than available outside of the mixed media platform. The broadened range of expression derives from the manipulation of the sign and signifier.

Chi Rho page from The Book of Kells
Chi Rho page from The Book of Kells

Uribe adds yet another layer of expression by animating the text. The poems are a collection of animated gifs with the text moving in simple patterns. The animation of the letters allows the viewer to realize, and to further explore, the ideas behind the letters. For example, the poem “A Herd of Centaurs” consists of a footed letter “h” moving right to left across the screen. The counter-intuitive motion of the letter transforms the character into a simulacrum of a centaur.

Centauros en manada 2 (A Herd of Centaurs 2) by Ana Maria Uribe
Centauros en manada 2 (A Herd of Centaurs 2) by Ana Maria Uribe

Without the animation Uribe’s poetry would lack the form which creates the content. The herd of centaurs, if simply written down in plain text would read: “hh hhhhhh hh hhh hhhhhhhh h,” or something which very closely resembles that grouping of characters. Perhaps the suggestion of the centaur form is present based on the shape of the letter, which is the basis of Uribe’s semiotic pun, but the poem would be essentially unreadable without the inclusion of motion to solidify the connection between form, text, and title.

Similarly, in Uribe’s “Pas de Deux” there is no way to separate the text from the animation and retain the poetic integrity of the work. The letters “R I P” cycle through continuously, side by side. In every other cycle the R and the P are flipped into mirror images of themselves. The cycling of the feet of the letters allows them to resemble the positions of the ballerinas which would be dancing the pas de deux side by side. Without the animation, the text is never spelled out. The function of the work as a whimsical mediation on morbidity is removed without the inclusion of the digital aspect of the work.

Pas de deux by Ana Maria Uribe
Pas de deux by Ana Maria Uribe

In the realm of digital literature Uribe’s work is rather simplistic in execution. A large part of the simplicity has to do with the technology available in 1998 that Uribe was working with to create her anipoems. However, even with the comparatively basic level of animation Uribe was still able to integrate the digital world into her work so thoroughly that the animated text cannot be separated without sacrificing the integrity of the work. The playfulness of the poems relies on the visual artistry of the animated gif. And, while the anipoems are a work of digital literature, they draw upon and reinvent a long literary tradition.

Longer Blog Essay #2: Girls’ Day Out

I chose to explore the electronic work of literature called Girls’ Day Out by Kerry Lawryonovicz. It begins by letting the reader pick one of three sections that comprise the work: “Poem,” “Author’s Note,” and “Shards.” To access these sections, the reader must click on one of the pictures, which are of different parts of a horse (legs, neck, head). When one hovers over each picture, the colors become inverted, transforming the images into their ghostly counterparts.

Continue reading Longer Blog Essay #2: Girls’ Day Out

Long Blog #2- Pieces of Herself

Pieces of Herself is a piece of electronic literature created by Juliet Davis. The interactive digital media, that I discovered through the website I Love E- Poetry, provides a commentary on the role of women and gender roles in society. The collaborative experience is created through the use of images, text, and sound. On the opening page the reader is met with a cut out of a gray human figure with no gender determining features. The text on this page flows in line by line to leave the message “Her friends said she needed to find herself. And sure enough, when she started looking, she found pieces of herself everywhere…”

When the reader clicks “enter” they are transported to a black and white bathroom scene and the instructions to “Drag and drop pieces onto the body. Then, reposition them as you like.” The line of the poem about the bathroom reads “In the SHOWER ROOM, where women slip behind curtain, in perfect synchronicity, to remain invisible to each other.” As the reader places the cursor over the black and white image they can navigate the room and cause the image to react. These reactions vary from opening a door to making a noise when scrolled over. Colored items are also scattered around the room and when they are dragged onto the cut out body image there is an auditory response. An image of an eye when dragged elicits the response of a song about the “naked eye”, an inscription on the bathroom door responds with a woman saying “he said he loves me”, thumbprints on the trashcan replies with a woman saying “I don’t even let my kids see me naked”, and the image of hair by the shower answers with a women complaining about her graying hair. I think it is interesting that the room we are automatically taken to is the most primal of rooms where the body is the main focus and privacy is valued. At the top of the page there are links to other rooms and places for the reader to explore. Then next room on the list is the bedroom.

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When we click on the bedroom link the reader is subjected automatically to a man, clearly the woman’s boyfriend, leaving her multiple messages on her answering machine voicing his concern about their relationship. The next line of the poem reads, “In the BEDROOM, where the mind would sometimes float to the ceiling.” The objects in this room were somewhat un-responsive in comparison to the bathroom. There is a storm cloud that produces thunder, a frog that responds with incessant ribbits, a key that replies with what I would describe as princess music, and some clouds over her pillow that plays a song about dreams.

The next link is to the outside. The reader is met with the image of a church with the image of a fetus to be dragged onto the body. This action is met with a song about a little girl wondering about her future and the mom saying, “whatever will be will be. The future is not ours you see.” As the reader scrolls to the right they see a neighborhood with a daycare and a road that is blocked by a closed road sign. The image of an apple in a tree when dragged onto the body is met with a quote of from the bible when God says the husband should rule over women. The verse and the apple allude to the story of Adam and Eve. The last link is another outside image called Main St. where we see a hospital, a cop car, a high school, and a Dairy Queen. With the interactive items we are met with sound bites of the importance of social lives and appearances. Both outside and Main St. have the same line of poem: “As if she could ever really get ‘outside’” These two images are clearly a powerful commentary on the relationship between outside influences on a women’s life.

After the outside link we come to the kitchen with the line: ”In the KITCHEN where she was forever looking for the right ingredients.” Here the items respond with quotes like “sometimes I want to be spicy” and a woman complaining about her weight. Next is the living room where the poem reads: “In the LIVING ROOM where she sometimes imagined she was someone else.” The television shows reality TV playing and an item of a masquerade mask responds with a women speaking about how her designer clothes and goods that her husband buys her don’t actually represent her on the inside. The next room is the office where the poem says: “In the OFFICE where she fought to keep them all.” At first I was confused about what this line meant, but as I clicked on more items that said things about how showing emotion in the workplace is unacceptable and that women were trying to integrate all the roles in to one, the meaning became clear. The office exemplifies the women moving out of the sphere of the home and housewife and into a working woman. However, these women still try to do it all, be the homemaker, mother, and worker, and are losing a part of themselves in the process.

There were two interesting elements of the interactivity in the entire piece. The first was that once you put an item on the body it could not be removed. To me this represents the author’s idea of the permanence of the effects that society has on a women’s identity. Secondly, on most of the images there was one item that when put on the body would produce a sound on repeat. The constant dripping of a faucet for example was incredibly annoying and caused me to refresh the program and start over. Overall, Pieces of Herself was a successful commentary on the gender role of women.