Our last e-lit class was a bit unorthodox since we serendipitously decided to attend Prof. Alan Robbins talk on “Design & Storytelling”. I am glad we made the effort, as I think the discussion drew attention to the fact that a good story is also a matter of design. I especially appreciated the slides in which he mapped out his mystery novels. The visual reference reminds us all that in building out our own e-lit, we we’ll need to pay close attention to the concept of structure and form. A story map practice will certainly support our writing/making process.
As I noted in class afterward, I do not think all stories require a clearly apprehended beginning, middle, and end to be called narrative. In some of the most compelling literature, this notion of a linear or teleological story convention can be “played with” or scrambled up in the most provocative of ways. The beauty of e-lit often is about bending these perceptions/conventions of narrative expectation. Despite this objection to defining a story in a constrained fashion, I do think Prof. Robbins talk was an interesting visit for us, and I am always glad when we can incorporate new disciplinary angles on our shared thinking.
Thank you to Hailey for an excellent second half of class with her thoughtful presentation of High Muck a Muck. High Muck-a-Muck: Playing Chinese is an interactive poem, consisting of a website and eight videos which explores the narratives and tensions of historical and contemporary Chinese immigration to Canada. High Muck a Muck is most intriguing especially because it was formed through an interdisciplinary collaboration of nine Canadian artists and programmers including Fred Wah, poet, Jin Zhang, composer; Nicola Harwood, project director and designer; Thomas Loh and Bessie Wapp, video artists and performers:, Hiromoto Ida, dancer; Patrice Leung, filmmaker; Tomoyo Ihaya, visual artist and Phillip Djwa, creative technologist. The convergence of so many gifted practitioners has produced an exceptionally rich and complex piece, which definitely pushes beyond the traditional confines of “text”. The addition of an installation version of this piece lends further complexity by offering the work up as an event.
Hailey was able to effectively walk us through many of the most significant images/tropes of the piece, while sharing her sense of the diverse options for navigation. The piece explores the multi lenses of diaspora and globalism, while provoking us to think further about the impact of dreams steeped in the challenges of exile or migration. We could see the way in which embodiment (the body) is wrapped up in conflicted pasts and presents, and how the myths of immigration are often a gamble with many different resulting outcomes. The final tone of the work is ambiguous and dispersed, with a haunting lack of resolve. There is loss despite gains in this journey to a new world.
For next week:
Richonda will walk us through and present Inanimate Alice (Episode 4) by Kate Pullinger & Chrish Joseph. Please read this piece and write your reflection blog. In addition to your thoughts on Inanimate Alice Episode 4, please include at the end of your blog some initial ideas for your own elit piece. What kind of story do you want to tell? Start to brainstorm a plot structure, characters, and themes.
In the second half of class we will start the process of mapping your e-lit ideas (building story maps) and we will also take a look at a list of digital tools that might help in implementing your ideas.
See you then,