David Jhave Johnston’s "Sooth"

I will admit that I first read the title of David Jhave Johnston's piece very quickly and thought that it was "soothe" and not "Sooth". Therefore, during my first reading, I spent a lot of time thinking, "This is not at all soothing...".

And isn't that the truth! "Sooth" is a collection of six love poems, but does not read like a typical love poem might. That is because the accompanying audio and visual elements are at times off-putting, even jarring.

The Electronic Literature Collection catalogs the piece as "one of a growing number of works that seek to integrate algorithmically animated, interactive text with rich video imagery". The visual element in this piece consists of six different, very close-up videos of scenes ranging from snow, to a fish, to a sleeping--half asleep?--woman. The six different poems and their accompanying videos are titled "Sooth", "Weeds", "Body", Root", "Soul", and "Snow".

In each section, accessible by clicking a tab on the left side of the screen, a video plays and text appears on the screen when the user clicks the mouse. Audio is also incorporated throughout. While the text moves continuously, it seems that in some sections the text's initial placement is effected by the placement of the cursor. Other times, it seems like the placement is random or pre-determined. Sometimes, the text overlaps the previously placed text, and the words become unreadable. In these cases, I felt like I was trying to chase moving lines across the screen in order to read them. This had an effect on my ability to understand the meaning behind the words.

While navigating the piece, I also noticed that the sound changes in volume throughout the videos. In "Soul" I was confronted with a high-pitched noise at a very high volume. It was so jarring that I had to remove my earbuds.

Although this piece was a collection of six love poems, my overall impression was that it was a little eerie... I think that my perception of the piece was influenced by the nature of the videos (all very close up and random), the occasional unbearable, high-pitched noises, and the constantly moving text. The energy of the piece was at times overwhelming and bordering on frantic. Not at all "soothing" ;)


David Jhave Johnston’s "Sooth"

I will admit that I first read the title of David Jhave Johnston's piece very quickly and thought that it was "soothe" and not "Sooth". Therefore, during my first reading, I spent a lot of time thinking, "This is not at all soothing...".

And isn't that the truth! "Sooth" is a collection of six love poems, but does not read like a typical love poem might. That is because the accompanying audio and visual elements are at times off-putting, even jarring.

The Electronic Literature Collection catalogs the piece as "one of a growing number of works that seek to integrate algorithmically animated, interactive text with rich video imagery". The visual element in this piece consists of six different, very close-up videos of scenes ranging from snow, to a fish, to a sleeping--half asleep?--woman. The six different poems and their accompanying videos are titled "Sooth", "Weeds", "Body", Root", "Soul", and "Snow".

In each section, accessible by clicking a tab on the left side of the screen, a video plays and text appears on the screen when the user clicks the mouse. Audio is also incorporated throughout. While the text moves continuously, it seems that in some sections the text's initial placement is effected by the placement of the cursor. Other times, it seems like the placement is random or pre-determined. Sometimes, the text overlaps the previously placed text, and the words become unreadable. In these cases, I felt like I was trying to chase moving lines across the screen in order to read them. This had an effect on my ability to understand the meaning behind the words.

While navigating the piece, I also noticed that the sound changes in volume throughout the videos. In "Soul" I was confronted with a high-pitched noise at a very high volume. It was so jarring that I had to remove my earbuds.

Although this piece was a collection of six love poems, my overall impression was that it was a little eerie... I think that my perception of the piece was influenced by the nature of the videos (all very close up and random), the occasional unbearable, high-pitched noises, and the constantly moving text. The energy of the piece was at times overwhelming and bordering on frantic. Not at all "soothing" ;)