From classic IF to hypertexted embodiment

I am enjoying each and every discussion of electronic literature we engage in!  Your selections so far have been diverse in terms of genre and form, but also in terms of theme and symbolic import.

Façade

Thank you Priscilla for bringing us into the world of Façade!  Priscilla’s blog post on the work is here, where she provides some interesting material from the authors about their composition process for interactive drama.   Façade is an artificial-intelligence-based interactive animated story that won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Slamdance Independent Games Festival.  The piece has been exhibited at several international art shows.  “The reader” assumes the role/perspective of a close friend of Trip and Grace – a couple who recently invited the player to their home for cocktails.  You enter their apartment where you can move, explore, and discover the space, and you can interact with some objects.  From the onset of the experience there seems to be significant marital difficulty between Trip & Grace.  The tension is palpable and the bickering is unrelenting.

The reader/player is able to interact by “speaking” to the troubled couple, and soon there is a complex triangulation of dynamics between the reader/player and Tip & Grace.  The player can attempt a reconciliation, or push them to further discord.  This is an open-ended design with many possible outcomes.  In some versions of play, one might be  “kicked out”.  In other playthroughs, certain affairs can be revealed.  The piece prompts a reflection on the difficulty of understanding between people (even those who are supposedly close in an intimate sense), and of the perils of human listening/not listening.  To wax philosophical, each human being is a complex universe.  So perhaps a human relationship is the collision crash of two separate universes?  This piece certainly draws out the collision quality of profound resent between two people, drawing the viewer into certain third party anxiety.

Pieces of Herself

Our discussion of Pieces of Herself by Juliet Davis was truly insightful, and it was a joy to read some many smart thoughtful blog posts about this reading.  Thank you to Nikki for your excellent walkthrough – I enjoyed the consideration of hear room or space we entered by engaging with this piece.  This interactive digital art text makes use of much less lexia than we have seen in the previous e-lit pieces we have explored together.  Instead, this work makes great use of a drag and drop interface – viewers can scroll through familiar environments (i.e. bathroom, living room, outside, the office) to collect metaphorical “pieces” of the self and arrange them in compositions inside the body by dropping them down in a dress-up doll.   The reader/navigator can customize their exploration of the work by filling in the dress-up “paper” doll (or woman’s silhouette).  As each “trace” is dragged into the paper doll silhouette, it triggers animations along with audio clips from interviews with women, music loops, and sound effects, resulting in a layered narrative effect.

We discussed the traces and marks (read “scars) left behind as a woman lives her life.  The marks left by private and public aspiration, desire, hopes and dreams, and violation too.  There is much challenge and pressure in becoming a woman.  The colorful accumulations on the silhouette emphasize the theme that some many competing ideologies leave lasting marks, imprinting a woman permanently.  Davis’ work emphasizes the irrevocable layering of all the experiences that shape and mark a young woman, highlighting the social inscription of the feminized body.

For next week:

1. Please read  With Those We Love Alive.  Rene will present a walkthrough and lead our discussion on this twine game creation.

2. Please read  High Muck A Muck.  Emily will present a walkthrough of this beautiful hypertext composition & collaboration between eleven writers, artists, and programmers.

3.  Please write your sixth #elitclass blog post:  you can write on one of the above two selections or both texts.  I still encourage you all to tweet your blog post using the #elitclass hashtag.  Check out your classmate’s blogs as well since there is a wealth of insight generated there.

Remember you are also encouraged to keep up the backchannel conversation on our #elitclass hashtag during class and even when we are not in class.  I happy to see more and more of you joining in the tweeting.

Enjoy the weekend.  See you soon!

Dr. Zamora

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