As soon as the world of Tailspin by Christine Wilks is open, there is movement and sound. Intricate designs grow and move in the background as the shape of an ear appears. If one did not read the description of the piece before entering, the ear would seem confusing, but after reading, it becomes clear that sound is crucial to this piece because of the grandfather’s tinnitus. I tried to do some research behind spiral shapes and their meanings, but did not stumble across anything that made it clear why the author chose to have swirling spirals as the point on a screen to click on. The reason could have very well been because Wilks just needed a shape or a spot for the reader to click. As you roll over the spirals, words fade into view to reveal part of a story. What happens next will be different for every reader because one may not roll over the spirals in the same order as another. I like the fact that everything does connect. The spirals could have been blurbs of unrelated pieces of text, but it connected to a larger story.
The story mostly centered around the lives of the mother, her two boys, the dad, and the grandfather. There are moments in the story that trails back to when the grandfather was in the war. Animations and caricatures sometimes moved across the screen as the story unfolded. At times, rolling over a spiral would result in the background transforming into a sky and plane would fly around. Once all of the black spirals on a single page is rolled over, a blue spiral will appear usually toward the center of the page to click on and move the reader to the next set of pieces to the story. I felt there was some sort of clear ending even though it may seem impossible in any type of electronic literature setting. There was a point where I was able to get to a red spiral in the center, and that brought me to the credits.
Some of the spirals will have noses associated with them, in addition to the ongoing clinking of the grandchildren’s toys and the buzzing of tinnitus in the grandfather’s ear. Moments of the story even went back to when the grandfather might have been flying a plane and bullet sounds will blare out of the speakers. I can understand the feel the author might have been going for with such intense sound throughout the piece. The feel of the world reminds me of simulators that let individuals experience the kind of illness or disability another person has. I feel that the world is a great way to step into another person’s shoes and get to experience what is happening from the grandfather’s point of view. I can only imagine how annoying the constant ringing and buzzing is to him. All of the different moving parts on the screen emphasize how distracting it is to have so much going on at once.
The ability for a person to hear and the implications that the text makes allude to the fact that hearing is vital to human life. While some with hearing defects learn about the world in a different way to be able to adjust/adapt, if one is able to hear, they are automatically at an advantage and have a different view of the world than others. I felt a sort of weight once the author wrote “He can’t hear birdsong anymore” (Wilks “Tailspin”). I also felt there was a very distinct way in which the author went about sound so differently, and that was manifested when I’d roll over a piece of text and hear some of the words within it in a muffled shout. This aspect was creepy at first, but it is such a prevalent and striking detail. Overall, I didn’t know how much I would like this piece when I first started navigating it, but I feel like I found more joy in picking it apart than actually being immersed in the world and getting to go through it and navigate it.
Just from reading the description before I began and entered Sharif Ezzat’s world, I was interested in how the idea was going to be executed. I really liked the idea of traditions between parent and child, and it sounded as though I wasn’t going to really know where I would end up or what I would be reading at any given moment. I really love how the sky became even more filled with stars as the narrator spoke in Arabic, asking questions about what the reader wanted to read. The music created an ambiance that is very calming and set the tone for the entire experience. The world is very dream like. Maybe it is just me, but the poems did not read like poems, but rather personal journals or just individual stories at times. There is no real vivid imagery in the poems. For example, I would like to know how the landscape that his uncle’s wife hated looked. The language is intriguing, but sometimes empty and I am not sure what to make of it.
The concept for Soliloquy by Kenneth Goldsmith is very unique and different. I don’t think I have seen anything like it before. I remember coming across this one as I was looking through the volumes. I remember my eyes widening as I realized how many words were possibly going to appear on the page, and then I became anxious as if I had to find them all and go through them all. I am not sure why those feelings came over me, but they did. It is interesting to see the choppiness of the entire piece and to read different blurbs of speech at different parts of the day. I never knew what my mouse was going to roll over and how much would appear. On one hand, I wanted to keep rolling my mouse around the page just out of curiosity, and on the other hand I felt as though the set up of the piece was a burden. I do, however, love the fact that once the mouse moves from one place the text fades away. On the web, we can get get back to it and just roll our mouse over it again, but during the day we can’t really say something exactly how we said it before unless we are paying close attention to ourselves in that way.
Red Riding Hood was the most interesting of the three, but also the most uncomfortable to me. I was excited for it because I am very familiar with the story, and also did a project on it in Writing for Cyberspace where my group collaborated to create a modern version honed in on today’s technology and how it can be dangerous. In this piece, though, I did not understand the twists and turn that the author was taking. I jumped into all three of these worlds without any previous knowledge of anything associated with it and I felt like this had something to do with how I reacted. I felt that Red Riding Hood had this really storyline-like interactive format, but didn’t really allow you to do much. There was one point where I wanted to click to make her dream, but I couldn’t and I had to choose to wake her up. The option, that turned out not to be an option, made me mad because I kept thinking about all of the things that I wouldn’t know about now. I couldn’t understand what happened at the end of the piece either. To me, it looked as though Red was just laying on the bed and then someone (I’m guessing the wolf) comes to stand beside her and that is it. It had a dark and menacing quality to it and the music really helped to drive the story forward, but I still felt confused throughout the entire piece. I feel like once I know more about it and look up more on the piece I will begin to be able to understand it better and appreciate the decisions the author made.
Overall, I liked surfing through the three pieces. I even went back and forth through them simultaneously, after I surfed them individually, to get a feel of coming in and out of the different worlds. I must say It would be a very hard decision if I had to choose one that I liked the best because I honestly have my reservations about all of them and maybe it was because of the time of day that I looked at them; I may not have been at my most receptive. I definitely want to go back to each world and experience again in a different space and at a different time and see if it makes a difference to how I respond to it.