Little Redshift Riding Hood

This week’s piece that Amber has selected for presentation, Redshift and Portal Metal was intriguing right off the bat.  I am such a huge fan of the end of the world genre.  Much of my own work comes from such ideas and ideas regarding the end of the world that are portrayed in the Bible’s Book of Revelations written by Saint John. 

I thought it was quite interesting that the main character is described on the editorial home page as a trans-woman.  I had no idea if that was a woman in the process of becoming a man or was this a man in the process of transitioning into a woman.  As I went through the piece I felt that whether this was a man or woman on the way to becoming something new didn’t really matter.  Men and women will always handle decision-making differently.  So it didn’t matter what gender I was on my way to be as I navigated the decisions. 

I really enjoyed the idea that I was able to chose what type of hero I wanted to be.  I could either be the hero that takes off in search of adventure or I could be the hero that remains behind to fix what’s left.  I had to be both.  The other thing I very much liked about the choice during the experience was that once a decision is made, the verbiage that appears often came with a good heaping serving of guilt.  I found my character lamenting about going in the direction of the decision I had just made. I went one way only to have the text reveal that the character actually wanted to go the other way.   I liked that very much. The turmoil of inner voices. It related a human quality to the experience.  Wherever the videos were shot it gave me a feel as though I was in another time and another place.  A place wasn’t necessarily good or evil.  To me it simply just what was. 

Karel’s choice, Red Riding Hood Remake was tempting.  I instantly was attracted to the dark urban feel.  I love comic books and picture books always have.  The art on the editorial home page was striking and had me thinking about a little boy and his hooker mom.  I will also pick up and read any comic book adaptation.  It could be a comic book adaptation of Julia Child and I would still read it.  I have used comic book adaptations in my own classroom to help my students better understand text.

The soundtrack to the piece was enjoyable on its own.  I love hard rock.  I have banged my head with the best of them at Bon Jovi, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest to name a few. However, for me the soundtrack got in the way of the story telling.  It was often too loud or it was the only thing being presented at the time.  That made it hard to focus on what I was supposed to be searching for.  Maybe I am old as Sun says. 

The interface was also troubling for me.  As I clicked on the links I could find over the music, the interface had to open another browser window.  The music suddenly stops, a new window opens to a colorful screen, and then the music blares once more.  There is no button on the screen to mute the music or even lower it that I could find.  Even muting my computer did not help.

Both of these pieces served as a reminder of what I should do and should not do when creating my own piece of electronic literature.  I need to be a specific as I can about my characters.  I need to have a very human feel to them.  Music is important but I will be careful to not overdo it.  Story and plot must be relatable in some way.  That can be accomplished by REMIXING a classic, or borrowing elements from a classic and making those my own.    

Update 11/5

This past week has been a total and utter blur in all of my classes.  I work in a retail warehouse and a pizzeria on the weekends, so with the weather getting cold and the holidays upon us, I have been running around like a mad man.  With that being said, my thesis work is coming along pretty nicely.  My efforts this week focused mostly on my formal submission at the end of the semester by way of my proposal and my literature review.  With my presentation coming up next week, I want to make sure I have some of this work done as I feel as though it will be easier for me to convey my thoughts and for the rest of the class to understand my work a little better.  I am now beginning to try and put together sources for my lit review and will begin the process in putting all of this together.  See you all in class!

Navigating a New World

For next week’s e-lit pieces, I navigated through Redshift and Portalmetal by micha cardenas and RedRidinghood by Donna Leishman. Unfortunately, try as I might, I couldn’t get the latter to work properly in any capacity, so my writing will focus solely in the former.

Redshift and Portalmetal operated through hypertext links, asking the viewer to click on highlighted phrases and make choices as to how to navigate through the piece. In a sense it reminds me of pick-your-own-adventure novels, it allowed me to make several choices, loop back accordingly to previous excerpts and has a definite ending (I assume, seeing as cardenas talked about her intention by that point).

Navigation and the interface was simple. I moved from one text to another, getting a better grasp of the narrative and selecting what I wanted next. I was accompanied by the sounds of car engines and loud winds, and with the use of headphones it amplified my immersion into the piece. I highly recommend doing so.

Going off this point, this piece utilizes extensive use of videos. Clips of highways passing, someone standing in both snowing cities and deserted canyons. They created juxtapositions and reflected their environment well. I wanted to understand more of the performative aspect of the performance, I’ve always had an interest in dance and interpretive movement, but alas it is also my weakest category to inspect so I can only vaguely speculate. Nonetheless I felt the written parts of the story were more important.

As for the narrative, it appeared straightforward in execution but hid a deeper layer of understanding. I was a traveler migrating to either the ‘planet that never rains’ or the ‘ice moon’, which made me assume that I was leaving Earth. Reading the statement earlier, it did mention the use of space travel so I kept my mindset in the realm of science fiction. I arrived at the ice moon first, but found myself returning back to the beginning of the narrative. I thought I took a wrong turn somewhere and went back into in, picking another option. I made it a point not to explore every single option as I wanted the story to feel like my own, and in life you don’t get redos. I arrived at the planet that never rains and from there I arrived at the ‘end title’ I mentioned earlier.

I chose not to discuss further on the main narrative (because I assume we all will), because there were some components that I wanted to write about. Namely the use of space travel.

As the statement says, we are travelers embarking on a trip across the stars to find a new home. While this is true, it doesn’t feel like that. In fact, they planet that never rains and the ice moon are pretty much locations we have back on Earth. We have many dried areas and cold environments, so how is that any different from the planets we are escaping to? cardenas makes it known that climate change is the most important part of the story, so with this in mind I imagine we in the story are trapped in an endless pursuit of finding something that is ‘normal’. But no matter where we go, everything ends up the same way as the world we left behind. It creates a powerful statement that humans bring dangerous changes to our world, and we cannot escape the destruction we cause. Every planet sounds alien in concept, so does that mean our planet now is alien to us? The fact that I ‘looped’ around in the story helps cement that feeling for me.

Travelling is crucial to making the piece feel alive. With the use of diegetic sounds and moving imagery, I felt I was wandering around aimlessly looking for meaning. I arrived at certain spots, but I couldn’t say I felt comfortable doing so, that something was missing within and I aimed to find it. Actually, this feeling reminds me of one of my favorite poems from Mark Strand. In Keeping Things Whole, he writes:

In a field

I am the absence

of field.

This is

always the case.

Wherever I am

I am what is missing.

When I walk

I part the air

and always

the air moves in

to fill the spaces

where my body’s been.

We all have reasons

for moving.

I move

to keep things whole.

The act of moving gave me a sense of belonging somewhere, filling whatever void was there before I got there. Redshift and Portalmetal resonated with me emotionally because I felt as lost and empty as the narrator. I feel like I’m just going through the motions watching the world unfold around me, not being able to make sense of it or feel welcome by it.

The ending page was powerful, with cardenas’s intention with the piece (honoring native peoples of the Anishnabe, Mississauga, New Credit and Grassy Narrows territories) and their alienation of the world that they belong in. I unfortunately didn’t think of them as I read this piece, but reading this one page made me reevaluate this piece in general and gave me a new lens to observe it with.

In conclusion, Redshift and Portalmetal is a fantastic and gripping piece that made me think hard about the world we live in and our intentions of moving elsewhere instead of addressing our issues. The execution and content speak volumes for the ability hypertext reading has and I hope that people become more aware of the medium. I’m still a bit upset I couldn’t read RedRidingHood, but all I can do is move forward and keep things whole.

A Fairytale: From Red to Redone

I was excited to read both Redshift & Portametal and RedRiding Hood.  The first seemed so interesting, considering that it was about confronting climate change and moving to another planet to create life again. Unfortunately, I couldn’t navigate through it but the video was enjoyable.

But, RedRiding Hood was very short, quick and so different than what I grew up reading. In the description, it was said that this story was being re-told from a feminist perspective. But honestly, I wasn’t really sure how this was being told from a feminist lens. There were many interesting elements to it, undoubtedly. A black-haired woman, winking at me. The music was very rock for me. Then the young girl, or in this case Red Riding Hood (who never wore a hood in the story) looked irritated when her mother gave her a basket to collect X’s as flowers. Her mother seemed glamorous; someone who considers style and fashion a priority. No wonder she think it’s okay to send her young girl out in the woods. While the grumpy un-hooded Red Riding Hood walks through the woods, a wolf is shown to be following her. But then he changes into a young boy who is still half-wolf, running after her on a scooter.

Photo by Brady Knoll on

As she moves away and decides to pick the “X” flowers, she suddenly gets into a sleep, as if the flowers were drugged. At first I decided to wake her up, but when I did, a male entered the room while she was asleep, checking with a flash light if she was still awake…or conscious? Then, a figure moving in her womb. Was she pregnant? When did that happen? Did those flowers do something to her? I went back to the beginning of the story, because I felt like I missed something, a big part of the story that would help me make sense of the ending. But even though I replayed, decided to let her dream, I still was back at square one none of my questions answered. They showed the baby developing, but where? How? When? It seemed all abstract to me; no real clarity on what that section was trying to explain. The grandma was killed (I assume) and the wolf ended up in the bed. It sticks to the original story. The scene zooms in on the eye of the grandma, and suddenly the grumpy, un-hooded Red Riding Hood is back in the bed, pregnant.

This retold version of the classic European fairy tale left me with a sense of uneasiness. It was very strange and I am not sure how to connect the dots mentally with this story. My mind left this story feeling cloudy, with no clear way how I was supposed to feel. Was it feminist, or was it just modernized? I don’t know what I was dealing with, but I am hoping that it is cleared out soon…