The piece of electronic literature I explored is Nightingale’s Playground by Andy Campbell and Judi Alston that I found through the Electronic Literature Directory. It is a work of digital fiction that follows the story of the main character, Carl Robertson, who is trying to decipher the vanishing of his friend from high school, Alex Nightingale. The story begins as Carl has returned to his hometown for his high school reunion after splitting with his girlfriend. He reconnects with his old classmates who he has seemingly lost touch with, but strangely, none of them remember his old best friend, Alex. In order to quiet his own doubt, Carl becomes determined to prove that Alex did in fact exist and to uncover where he is now. This is where the reader becomes involved in the story.
Nightingale’s Playground allows the reader to uncover the mystery surrounding Alex along with the main character, Carl, by scrolling around different locations in order to discover text extracts. It is told in four parts, “Consensus Trance”, a browser-based experience, then “Consensus Trance II”, which is in the format of a 3-D game, followed by “The Fieldwork Notebook”, in the format of an online notebook, and then the conclusion, a PDF file. The locations in “Consensus Trance” are creepy, opening in a dark, dilapidated bedroom, moving to different dreary locations like an abandoned house and a forest. Text extracts are spread throughout locations that the reader must uncover to be able to unlock the next locations. At the end on this part the reader runs through a forest being chased by “the Sentinel”, which is a computer game that Alex and Carl used to play. This then opens to “Consensus Trance II”, the 3-D game. The reader navigates as Carl through his dark and scary childhood home looking for Alex’s school fieldwork notebook, in hopes that it will prove Alex’s existence and his sanity. Continue reading Longer Blog Essay #2: Nightingale’s Playground
10:01 began as an ambitious print text by Lance Olsen that explored the thoughts and inner demons of a variety of characters attending a movie in an AMC theater in the Mall of America one afternoon. An excerpt provided by Olsen’s website delivers much of the novel’s intentions: a cataloging of external and internal reactions to various stimuli and memories unfolding ten minutes and one second before the feature presentation begins.
I assume 10:01 conjures up high degrees of visual content even without its hypermedia version. The descriptions embedded carefully in Olsen’s meticulous prose beg to be dissected and supplemented by the reader’s imagination. In the linked excerpt (which serves as the novel’s start), moviegoer Kate Frazey enters the theater with the same attitude as the words that introduce her, remaining in control of her physical being (seated comfortably in “row three, seat nine”) and surveying emotional and mental states as astutely as the narrator (with her employment of a “crane shot” that scans her fellow moviegoers for neuroses and nuances).
Tim Guthrie’s hypermedia version of 10:01 allows those that interact with it to assume the roles played by both Kate and the narrator. The hypermedia experience relies on an all-encompassing, highly malleable experience that complements the sense of narrative omniscience quite well. Once the e-literature finishing cycling through its introduction, a substantial epigraph that collects quotes that marry intimate human experience with the detached nature of film, an experience begins that attempts to write human interaction and thought processes with as much tension and explosion as characters in a screenplay, with the user as the all-knowing “audience” from above.
This isn’t a novel technique by any means, but that speaks more about the text itself than the technology that encapsulates it, which offers a more unique, customizable experience.
Continue reading Tim Guthrie’s 10:01 – Art Imitating Life (Second Longer Blog Essay)