Meditating on Moving
Ingrid Ankerson and Megan Sapnar’s Cruising is a compelling work of kinetic poetry that explores themes of love and youth and whose actual design reinforces its exploration of “temporal and spatial themes”. This work is made using Flash and it combines still images with linear, moving text. The speed of the text, and thus the speed of navigating this piece, is determined by the user’s cursor placement and movement. Users are tasked with finding a “balance” that allows them to read and engage with the work in the same way that the characters of the story must learn to find a balance between their needs and emerging desires. In this way, users are learning to almost “drive” the narrative, making them actively aware of the place of the reader in interpretation of a text and the process of meaning-making. This level of interactivity, though slight in comparison to some recent works of Elit, achieves much in how it mirrors the struggles for control and to find direction that are expressed in the textual aspect of the work. More, the balance or “flow” that users must find between the textual and visual components of the work allows users to actively participate in the same struggles as the characters as well as be aware of their participation a readers in the processes of meaning-making.
Though at first deceived by this work’s simple interface, I found myself highly engaged with the content. I love how the design of the work reinforces the narrative aspect of the piece. I found myself becoming absorbed with the process of regulating the “flow” of text and images until I could create a sensible, narrative “film” of sorts. Every time I thought I found a careful balance, the work would zoom out or zoom in because of a careless twitch. It seems impossible to find peace for more than a few moments–which, I think emphasizes the narrative component of the work. The characters within this story are exploring love and, seemingly, newfound freedom as represented by driving and the ability to “cruise” around town and through life. It’s difficult to find a balance between what is needed and what is wanted. I want to read this work at my usual pace but I need to slow down in order to read the work at all.
It’s quite frustrating to realize what you want and what you need are not always aligned. (In fact, they may be in direct opposition to each other.) This concept is also interesting to consider in the context of reader vs. author. What the reader wants to interpret may differ greatly from what the author intended. The place of the reader in deciding meaning is not only emphasized in this work but seems to be a core theme. The reader literally must set the pace of the work, through cursor placement, in order to “read” the piece. To me, this seems to pose questions about traditional reading habits and conceptions of reading as well as conceptions of literary and rhetorical analyses. How much of our interpretations are just that–interpretations? Are not all analyses impressions recorded? These questions all seem to be posed by this work.
In addition to the design elements and conceptual components of this piece, I also found that actual text of it to be moving
get it????? and quite poetic. I loved the spoken-word aspect paired with the “boppy” music; It really put me in the space of the work and creating this real sense of time and place. Without reading the introduction to the work, I believe readers would still be delivered to the early 2000’s, when cruising around town was hip and fashionable and, ultimately, the way teenagers met each other. It moved that fast and that slow at the same time, if that makes sense.
Overall, I found this work to be engaging in its own way and I thought the design of the work paired with the content in a way we’ve yet to see from the works we have explored. I’m fascinated by how works like this one, and Jason Nelson’s cyclical, slot-machine work This is How You Will Die, make use of an interface that reinforces the overarching themes of the work itself. I feel like digital works and born-digital material is uniquely suited, in this respect. Ankerson and Sapnar’s Crusing is not just a compelling work of Elit but also a
literally moving work of poetry that asks readers to not only meditate on but actively participate in the not-so-easy process of finding a balance between what is wanted and what is needed in life.
So, since our last meeting, I have begun more actively working on creating my Elit piece. I have a pretty involved idea of what kind of work I want to make and what I want it to accomplish so most of my work thus far has revolved around managing expectations and figuring out what I can do with the tools that I have in the time that I have. Thus far, I have found some success using Thinglink. While it does not necessarily provide me with the functionality I’m looking for, it does provide a lot of room to play around with hyperlinks. Also, I can use an image of my own design as the background for the work (without having to entirely code a background). A photo-editing tool I have, also, found that I like is PicMonkey. It’s like Photoshop but simpler and, you know, free.
For anyone struggling with designing their own work, I would definitely recommend checking out these sources as well as the other sources provided in the shared class doc ^.^
~Till next time~