High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese

     High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, An Interactive Poem is a very complex project that is the result of the collaborative efforts of many authors. Wah, Harwood, Zhang, Wapp, Loh, Ihaya, Ida, Djwa, and Leurig worked together for several years to create this digital, interactive piece. In a statement from the author's on the Electronic Literature Collection's website, the author's explain that the piece is meant to act as something that "troubles the cliché of historical tales of Chinese immigration to North America's 'Gold Mountain'". To add to that, the editorial comment on the site let's readers know that the piece deals with topics such as "racism, intercultural exchange, imitation, history, economics, and Chinese immigration to Canada".

    As I click the link to enter, I know that I can expect a mix of sound, poetry, video, and interactive text. A swirling Ying-Yang symbol gives way to the title screen and a picture of what looks to be a square filled with lines of Chinese characters. The picture, I learn shortly after, is a Pak Ah Pu lottery card, and if I click on certain Chinese characters, I will be met with poetry, videos, and oral histories.

     I enter. Blue ink spots appear after I clicked on the first link. The ink spots on the lottery card than transfer to ink spots on what looks to be a crud geographic image on a human torso. Everything looks hand-drawn and painted. The ink spots turn out to be clickable links. Some, the larger ones, have titles such as "Canada", "Nelson", and "Richmond". The smaller ink spots are paler and do not have titles.

     I begin by clicking on "Victoria", and I am brought to a page that is filled with drawn images. A large brick establishment without a roof sits in the center of the screen, and it is surrounded by drawn  images of civilization: people, families, town.
    
     First, I chose to click on the family in the top left corner. I am brought to a page where text appears and disappears fairly quickly. I had been trying to read critically, slowly, but the text disappeared too quickly for me to absorb it. I have to reenter the page in order to reread what is perhaps a brief description pertaining to tradition and history. There is a line about mah-jong and New Years celebration.

     Back at the previous page, I click on the image of the man smoking next to a building. This is perhaps poetry? Then I go back and click on the image in the bottom right corner. This time the text does not appear on a separate page, rather I stay on the main page, and the text overlays the images on the screen.

     The image of the lottery ticket remains at the bottom right hand corner of this page: a way to go back and access the page with the blue ink spots. I click on "Pacific Rim" next.

     The main screen is a watercolor image of what appears to be water on a map. Little outlines of boats are the gateways here. I click on one boat and again receive text that appears to be poetry. Again the text is fleeting; it is frustrating, and I wish that I could hold on to the text for longer.

     Back on the water screen, I click on the largest boat in the center. I am brought to my first video, which begins with the sound of musical instruments and the image of what appears to be a map. As the video goes on, the music speeds up and becomes more intense. There are so many tiny strips of paper on the screen that all say "made in China". What looks like news clippings also briefly appear. One says "cheap labor".

     This is the end of my exploration for now. I enjoyed clicking on some of the links and seeing what I could find, but I am not usually one for poetry. Poetry has never been something that I can easily enjoy. So while I thought that this project was interesting, and I can appreciate the amount of work that went into it, I do not enjoy it as much as some of the other projects that we have seen. Perhaps this is a little too abstract for me? Maybe I'll do some more exploring before we next meet.



    

High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese

     High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, An Interactive Poem is a very complex project that is the result of the collaborative efforts of many authors. Wah, Harwood, Zhang, Wapp, Loh, Ihaya, Ida, Djwa, and Leurig worked together for several years to create this digital, interactive piece. In a statement from the author's on the Electronic Literature Collection's website, the author's explain that the piece is meant to act as something that "troubles the cliché of historical tales of Chinese immigration to North America's 'Gold Mountain'". To add to that, the editorial comment on the site let's readers know that the piece deals with topics such as "racism, intercultural exchange, imitation, history, economics, and Chinese immigration to Canada".

    As I click the link to enter, I know that I can expect a mix of sound, poetry, video, and interactive text. A swirling Ying-Yang symbol gives way to the title screen and a picture of what looks to be a square filled with lines of Chinese characters. The picture, I learn shortly after, is a Pak Ah Pu lottery card, and if I click on certain Chinese characters, I will be met with poetry, videos, and oral histories.

     I enter. Blue ink spots appear after I clicked on the first link. The ink spots on the lottery card than transfer to ink spots on what looks to be a crud geographic image on a human torso. Everything looks hand-drawn and painted. The ink spots turn out to be clickable links. Some, the larger ones, have titles such as "Canada", "Nelson", and "Richmond". The smaller ink spots are paler and do not have titles.

     I begin by clicking on "Victoria", and I am brought to a page that is filled with drawn images. A large brick establishment without a roof sits in the center of the screen, and it is surrounded by drawn  images of civilization: people, families, town.
    
     First, I chose to click on the family in the top left corner. I am brought to a page where text appears and disappears fairly quickly. I had been trying to read critically, slowly, but the text disappeared too quickly for me to absorb it. I have to reenter the page in order to reread what is perhaps a brief description pertaining to tradition and history. There is a line about mah-jong and New Years celebration.

     Back at the previous page, I click on the image of the man smoking next to a building. This is perhaps poetry? Then I go back and click on the image in the bottom right corner. This time the text does not appear on a separate page, rather I stay on the main page, and the text overlays the images on the screen.

     The image of the lottery ticket remains at the bottom right hand corner of this page: a way to go back and access the page with the blue ink spots. I click on "Pacific Rim" next.

     The main screen is a watercolor image of what appears to be water on a map. Little outlines of boats are the gateways here. I click on one boat and again receive text that appears to be poetry. Again the text is fleeting; it is frustrating, and I wish that I could hold on to the text for longer.

     Back on the water screen, I click on the largest boat in the center. I am brought to my first video, which begins with the sound of musical instruments and the image of what appears to be a map. As the video goes on, the music speeds up and becomes more intense. There are so many tiny strips of paper on the screen that all say "made in China". What looks like news clippings also briefly appear. One says "cheap labor".

     This is the end of my exploration for now. I enjoyed clicking on some of the links and seeing what I could find, but I am not usually one for poetry. Poetry has never been something that I can easily enjoy. So while I thought that this project was interesting, and I can appreciate the amount of work that went into it, I do not enjoy it as much as some of the other projects that we have seen. Perhaps this is a little too abstract for me? Maybe I'll do some more exploring before we next meet.



    

Blog 2: A Review of Tailspin



Andaiye Hall
Prof Mia Zamora
English 5081 Intro to Electronic Literature
September 27, 2016
A Review of Tailspin

As you begin the story, there is a slow and sudden appearance of the title. You see a diagram of what the inner ear looks like briefly displayed on the background. Then you see a series of revolving spirals. You hear a consistent heart beating along with a spooky musical tone at the same time. You also hear a banging of dishes. As you press each spiral, you see a few sentences along with a moving image and additional noises that corresponds to that part of the story.
Personally the background noises gave me a comforting feeling. It probably helped me connect with the old man’s situation and helped me remember I’m alive. If you look closely at the bottom part of the screen you see a circle that has a fraction shaded in. The more pages you go through, the more complete the circle becomes. When you can go to the next page a blue spiral appears to let you know to continue reading.
In comparison to the other e-lit texts we have read, it is pretty limited in hidden areas and extra portals. Even though it is relatively simple in design, it still is highly unique. On certain pages the background looks like the sky. The completion of the circle symbolizes for me the end of the old man’s life and the heart will eventually stop beating. The last thing that you can press is a red spiral. On the last page of the reading, there is a picture of what resembles an old fashioned disco player. It perhaps symbolizes the main character holding on to the past. The disco isn’t playing any music just his own imaginings. The sentence “hang onto deafness for dear life.”  It’s the last on the screen.
Upon doing some brief research, I discovered that some saw this e-lit text as an example of e-lit poetry. I was instantly astonished because I didn’t see it that way. I only saw it as an actual piece of literature to read. I saw no signs of it being poetic. The spirals to me were just parts of a short story.
The old man is described as having tinnitus and partial deafness. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, tinnitus is “a condition that causes you to hear ringing or roaring sounds that only you can hear.” Upon further consideration, one can immediately sympathize with the main character. He is hearing actual noises from his grandchildren with annoying sounds that are coming from his own head. Everyone knows that children can make a lot of noise while playing together. I can only imagine how annoying the two sounds can be in unison.
I consider this piece to be interactive fiction. You get to press different areas of the texts in any order you want. You see visuals pop up and audio effects change according to the page and the spiral.
I absolutely love this piece more than the others I have read for some reason. All the craziness of the text makes it feel and look so realistic to the reader. I think even kids can read this text and have fun exploring through the reading. I definitely look forward to exploring more e-lit texts from Christine Wilks in the future.

Blog 2: A Review of Tailspin



Andaiye Hall
Prof Mia Zamora
English 5081 Intro to Electronic Literature
September 27, 2016
A Review of Tailspin

As you begin the story, there is a slow and sudden appearance of the title. You see a diagram of what the inner ear looks like briefly displayed on the background. Then you see a series of revolving spirals. You hear a consistent heart beating along with a spooky musical tone at the same time. You also hear a banging of dishes. As you press each spiral, you see a few sentences along with a moving image and additional noises that corresponds to that part of the story.
Personally the background noises gave me a comforting feeling. It probably helped me connect with the old man’s situation and helped me remember I’m alive. If you look closely at the bottom part of the screen you see a circle that has a fraction shaded in. The more pages you go through, the more complete the circle becomes. When you can go to the next page a blue spiral appears to let you know to continue reading.
In comparison to the other e-lit texts we have read, it is pretty limited in hidden areas and extra portals. Even though it is relatively simple in design, it still is highly unique. On certain pages the background looks like the sky. The completion of the circle symbolizes for me the end of the old man’s life and the heart will eventually stop beating. The last thing that you can press is a red spiral. On the last page of the reading, there is a picture of what resembles an old fashioned disco player. It perhaps symbolizes the main character holding on to the past. The disco isn’t playing any music just his own imaginings. The sentence “hang onto deafness for dear life.”  It’s the last on the screen.
Upon doing some brief research, I discovered that some saw this e-lit text as an example of e-lit poetry. I was instantly astonished because I didn’t see it that way. I only saw it as an actual piece of literature to read. I saw no signs of it being poetic. The spirals to me were just parts of a short story.
The old man is described as having tinnitus and partial deafness. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, tinnitus is “a condition that causes you to hear ringing or roaring sounds that only you can hear.” Upon further consideration, one can immediately sympathize with the main character. He is hearing actual noises from his grandchildren with annoying sounds that are coming from his own head. Everyone knows that children can make a lot of noise while playing together. I can only imagine how annoying the two sounds can be in unison.
I consider this piece to be interactive fiction. You get to press different areas of the texts in any order you want. You see visuals pop up and audio effects change according to the page and the spiral.
I absolutely love this piece more than the others I have read for some reason. All the craziness of the text makes it feel and look so realistic to the reader. I think even kids can read this text and have fun exploring through the reading. I definitely look forward to exploring more e-lit texts from Christine Wilks in the future.

Blog 2: Tailspin

Unfortunately, I don't have much to say about this piece because I was unable to get it working on my computer (Flash and my computer just don't get along; when I try to run it, it crashes my browser over and over).  I was able to look at it briefly on a colleague's computer and get a sense of it; however, I didn't spend enough time with the work to offer an in-depth analysis.  I will offer my comments on what I did notice, and hopefully that will be better than nothing. 

This piece of electronic literature opens to a (rather disturbing) cacophony.  My colleague and I actually looked to each other with horrified faces when we heard it.  From that, and from the description provided by the anthology within which it's included, I can tell that sound is a major part of "Tailspin."  With that in mind, it's easy to see why the author gravitated toward the e-lit medium to tell her story.  Not even audio books can give the same experience of reading text while hearing certain unique sounds. The listener is taking in the story audially and not visually in the case of an audio book, and thus they are engaged in a much different way.  By engaging two of the reader's senses at once, the author creates something that is both richer and more chaotic, perhaps meant to mimic the emotional and family lives of her characters.

Sound is not the only asset of the e-lit medium author Wilks takes advantage of.  Using a field of animated spirals, the author allows her reader to navigate the text in a less linear fashion.  From what I saw, all of the spirals look identical and move the same way.  I wonder what kind of statement Wilks was trying to make with that design choice?  Having only spent a limited time with the piece, I don't think I can make an educated inference.  From the title, I can (uneducatedly) guess that she may have been trying to assert something about the deep-down uniformity of human flaw.  Not that everyone has the same flaws, but that everyone is flawed in some way that could send them into their own personal tailspin.

That's really all I have to offer for this one...  Sorry guys... >.<


Blog 2: Tailspin

Unfortunately, I don't have much to say about this piece because I was unable to get it working on my computer (Flash and my computer just don't get along; when I try to run it, it crashes my browser over and over).  I was able to look at it briefly on a colleague's computer and get a sense of it; however, I didn't spend enough time with the work to offer an in-depth analysis.  I will offer my comments on what I did notice, and hopefully that will be better than nothing. 

This piece of electronic literature opens to a (rather disturbing) cacophony.  My colleague and I actually looked to each other with horrified faces when we heard it.  From that, and from the description provided by the anthology within which it's included, I can tell that sound is a major part of "Tailspin."  With that in mind, it's easy to see why the author gravitated toward the e-lit medium to tell her story.  Not even audio books can give the same experience of reading text while hearing certain unique sounds. The listener is taking in the story audially and not visually in the case of an audio book, and thus they are engaged in a much different way.  By engaging two of the reader's senses at once, the author creates something that is both richer and more chaotic, perhaps meant to mimic the emotional and family lives of her characters.

Sound is not the only asset of the e-lit medium author Wilks takes advantage of.  Using a field of animated spirals, the author allows her reader to navigate the text in a less linear fashion.  From what I saw, all of the spirals look identical and move the same way.  I wonder what kind of statement Wilks was trying to make with that design choice?  Having only spent a limited time with the piece, I don't think I can make an educated inference.  From the title, I can (uneducatedly) guess that she may have been trying to assert something about the deep-down uniformity of human flaw.  Not that everyone has the same flaws, but that everyone is flawed in some way that could send them into their own personal tailspin.

That's really all I have to offer for this one...  Sorry guys... >.<


Week Two: Tailspin


Tailspin, by Christine Wilks

First: the title. Before I even opened the link to read Tailspin, the title was already evoking images of being out of control, dizzy, and of plummeting or falling. It turns out that these images are appropriate to the theme of tailspin. Yet the title does double duty; it is also a reference to George’s time served in the Air Cadets.

The Electronic Literature Collection, where Tailspin can be accessed, refers to the piece as one that succeeds at “metaphorically associating imperfect hearing with imperfect communication”. Told from two perspectives: George, an older man who suffers from Tinnitus and partial deafness, and his daughter, Karen, the piece uses sound and short bursts of text to create the sense of overwhelming frustration and disconnect experienced by the two.

When the reader opens Tailspin, they are met with a white, patterned background overlaid with a number of ever-spinning spirals. When the reader hovers over the spirals, they activate the text and sounds associated with that piece of the story. Throughout the story, and in addition to any additional sounds, there is the sound of a constant, slightly rapid heartbeat.  

This is an effective element within the story because it creates a sense of unease that the reader shares with both Karen and George. Karen (and her two children) fear George because of his angry outburst. They cannot relate to him or understand him. At one point during the dinner, “Karen turns, catches a fleeting glimpse of hateful anger on her father’s face. He was looking at Chloe. She sees fear in her youngest child”. Karen can relate to this fear; she grew up trying to find ways to avoid her father’s anger, trying to be as quiet as possible.

There is a parallel that can be drawn from the text when Lauren, Karen’s other daughter, is told to ask Grandad when she wants something. She says that she never will; she is too apprehensive of George. Karen, when she is a child, is also told to ask her father when she wants something: “Mummy’s busy. Ask Daddy, she says, like always”. Karen is also reluctant to approach George. Both Karen and her children are fearful prompting an outburst from George.

George also suffers from a constant state of unease. His Tinnitus is made worse by the sounds of the children. He says, “Anything can set it off: loud noises, high pitched, piercing noises…alarms”. He once tried a hearing aid, but that too made his Tinnitus worse. When the reader activates this piece of text, a sharp, shrill sound accompanies it. And that is not the first time that the reader is treated to George’s experience. There are frequent overwhelming assaults of the electronic sounds of videogames, jumbled voices, and the too-loud clatter of silverware and glasses. The only time George seems to experience relief is when he imagines what it would be like to glide through the silent sky like a bird.

At one point, the background changes to the wispy blue and white of a sky and the sounds of birds fill the air as George flashes back to the day that he joined the Air Cadets.

It is assumed by both Karen and the reader that George was a pilot. Yet it turns out that he was “nothing more than an aircraft fitter”. Karen admits to making assumptions as a child.

This is not the only example to a lack of communication and understanding between father and daughter. Karen continues to try to sell her father on the idea of a hearing aid. She seems unaware that the hearing aid made George uncomfortable and worsened his Tinnitus. Karen cannot comprehend why George becomes so angry when she again brings up the subject. So at dinner, while Karen is sitting on her father’s deaf side, she acts as if he isn’t even there, as if he is a blank wall. George feels as if he might as well be invisible.

One of the last bursts of text reveals that George witnessed a young man burn to death in a plane that had crashed. An image of a plane spiraling while a man’s voice repeatedly begs, “help me, help me” accompanies the text “cowardly relief/ he failed/ thank God/ for his deaf ear”. This seems to be the reveal of how George went from having ambitions of being a pilot to becoming an aircraft fitter. He mentions how heroes usually die young, and he seems to see himself as a coward.

The piece concludes with the image of what looks to be a ladder in the center of a pulsating sound wave spiral which takes up the entire screen.

Week Two: Tailspin


Tailspin, by Christine Wilks

First: the title. Before I even opened the link to read Tailspin, the title was already evoking images of being out of control, dizzy, and of plummeting or falling. It turns out that these images are appropriate to the theme of tailspin. Yet the title does double duty; it is also a reference to George’s time served in the Air Cadets.

The Electronic Literature Collection, where Tailspin can be accessed, refers to the piece as one that succeeds at “metaphorically associating imperfect hearing with imperfect communication”. Told from two perspectives: George, an older man who suffers from Tinnitus and partial deafness, and his daughter, Karen, the piece uses sound and short bursts of text to create the sense of overwhelming frustration and disconnect experienced by the two.

When the reader opens Tailspin, they are met with a white, patterned background overlaid with a number of ever-spinning spirals. When the reader hovers over the spirals, they activate the text and sounds associated with that piece of the story. Throughout the story, and in addition to any additional sounds, there is the sound of a constant, slightly rapid heartbeat.  

This is an effective element within the story because it creates a sense of unease that the reader shares with both Karen and George. Karen (and her two children) fear George because of his angry outburst. They cannot relate to him or understand him. At one point during the dinner, “Karen turns, catches a fleeting glimpse of hateful anger on her father’s face. He was looking at Chloe. She sees fear in her youngest child”. Karen can relate to this fear; she grew up trying to find ways to avoid her father’s anger, trying to be as quiet as possible.

There is a parallel that can be drawn from the text when Lauren, Karen’s other daughter, is told to ask Grandad when she wants something. She says that she never will; she is too apprehensive of George. Karen, when she is a child, is also told to ask her father when she wants something: “Mummy’s busy. Ask Daddy, she says, like always”. Karen is also reluctant to approach George. Both Karen and her children are fearful prompting an outburst from George.

George also suffers from a constant state of unease. His Tinnitus is made worse by the sounds of the children. He says, “Anything can set it off: loud noises, high pitched, piercing noises…alarms”. He once tried a hearing aid, but that too made his Tinnitus worse. When the reader activates this piece of text, a sharp, shrill sound accompanies it. And that is not the first time that the reader is treated to George’s experience. There are frequent overwhelming assaults of the electronic sounds of videogames, jumbled voices, and the too-loud clatter of silverware and glasses. The only time George seems to experience relief is when he imagines what it would be like to glide through the silent sky like a bird.

At one point, the background changes to the wispy blue and white of a sky and the sounds of birds fill the air as George flashes back to the day that he joined the Air Cadets.

It is assumed by both Karen and the reader that George was a pilot. Yet it turns out that he was “nothing more than an aircraft fitter”. Karen admits to making assumptions as a child.

This is not the only example to a lack of communication and understanding between father and daughter. Karen continues to try to sell her father on the idea of a hearing aid. She seems unaware that the hearing aid made George uncomfortable and worsened his Tinnitus. Karen cannot comprehend why George becomes so angry when she again brings up the subject. So at dinner, while Karen is sitting on her father’s deaf side, she acts as if he isn’t even there, as if he is a blank wall. George feels as if he might as well be invisible.

One of the last bursts of text reveals that George witnessed a young man burn to death in a plane that had crashed. An image of a plane spiraling while a man’s voice repeatedly begs, “help me, help me” accompanies the text “cowardly relief/ he failed/ thank God/ for his deaf ear”. This seems to be the reveal of how George went from having ambitions of being a pilot to becoming an aircraft fitter. He mentions how heroes usually die young, and he seems to see himself as a coward.

The piece concludes with the image of what looks to be a ladder in the center of a pulsating sound wave spiral which takes up the entire screen.

A Reaction to "Tailspin"’s Visual Vertigo

Undoubtedly, Christine Wilks captures the breeding tension of an uncomfortable family dinner between three generations of people in her piece of electronic literature, "Tailspin." What I especially liked about this piece was how it still functioned as what we would consider a "normal" narrative, in that I still got a feel for a "structured" plot, characters, setting, and meaning, in comparison to the works we read last week. Even though it was broken up and the reader could read the paragraphs in different order, you are still able to arrive to the same conclusion of the piece at the end. Additionally, I liked the fact that you could hover over the spirals and have the text, sound, and visuals, which helps to immerse the reader in that bubbling tension of the family. From the video game noises and characters, piercing sharp noises of the hearing aid, loudness of the plane, and the scraping of utensils against plates, it partly echoes the last iteration of the work, which warns the reader to cling on to the deafness of it all.

Again, I found the use of sound to be particularly effective in utilizing the potential of elit again. More specifically, I liked that Wilks used the video game Animal Crossing without ever explicitly mentioning it; however, she used the character art, as well as various sounds from the game, to add to what the grandfather was confusedly and angrily seeing and hearing. For an outsider of the video game, I can imagine it also gives off a weird, unsettling feeling too, with the noises so distinct to the game; I know if I didn't know the reference, it would come off as a nightmarish, twisted cartoon. It definitely added to the overall feeling Wilks was getting at, too.

Ultimately, I really liked this specific piece of elit, and that it drew from the interesting parallel between deafness and ignorance, or at the very least, wishing to forget. With its complex meaning, a narrative that you could follow, and effective computational elements, it helped pull the whole piece of electronic literature together to make it very compelling and satisfying.

A Reaction to "Tailspin"’s Visual Vertigo

Undoubtedly, Christine Wilks captures the breeding tension of an uncomfortable family dinner between three generations of people in her piece of electronic literature, "Tailspin." What I especially liked about this piece was how it still functioned as what we would consider a "normal" narrative, in that I still got a feel for a "structured" plot, characters, setting, and meaning, in comparison to the works we read last week. Even though it was broken up and the reader could read the paragraphs in different order, you are still able to arrive to the same conclusion of the piece at the end. Additionally, I liked the fact that you could hover over the spirals and have the text, sound, and visuals, which helps to immerse the reader in that bubbling tension of the family. From the video game noises and characters, piercing sharp noises of the hearing aid, loudness of the plane, and the scraping of utensils against plates, it partly echoes the last iteration of the work, which warns the reader to cling on to the deafness of it all.

Again, I found the use of sound to be particularly effective in utilizing the potential of elit again. More specifically, I liked that Wilks used the video game Animal Crossing without ever explicitly mentioning it; however, she used the character art, as well as various sounds from the game, to add to what the grandfather was confusedly and angrily seeing and hearing. For an outsider of the video game, I can imagine it also gives off a weird, unsettling feeling too, with the noises so distinct to the game; I know if I didn't know the reference, it would come off as a nightmarish, twisted cartoon. It definitely added to the overall feeling Wilks was getting at, too.

Ultimately, I really liked this specific piece of elit, and that it drew from the interesting parallel between deafness and ignorance, or at the very least, wishing to forget. With its complex meaning, a narrative that you could follow, and effective computational elements, it helped pull the whole piece of electronic literature together to make it very compelling and satisfying.