My final blog post will be a review of an electronic literary text. I had a hard time choosing a piece of e-lit and I found that it was because I wanted it to allow a lot of interaction from the user, give options for the user to choose from and have the possibility to co-create it. I find this aspect very appealing and interesting which made it an important factor in finding a piece.
Searching through different e-lit works in the first collection, I stumbled upon a piece that — funny enough — is called Carving in Possibilities (just what I was looking for). Carving in Possibilities (hereafter CiP) is by Deena Larsen with sounds from Matt Hansen. The author description of it goes:
Carving in Possibilities is a short Flash piece. By moving the mouse, the user carves the face of Michelangelo’s David out of speculations about David, the crowd watching David and Goliath, the sculptor, and the crowds viewing the sculpture.
When entering CiP, you are presented a white stone figure in the back with a text saying to click to start. When moving the mouse to “click here to start,” a small text appears over it saying “And remember where you put your ghosts.” After clicking start, the white stone figure is in focus and you can start rolling the cursor over it. By doing this (very carefully), different small lexia appear, but only one at a time.
When you move the cursor, a new one appears and the last one is gone. As this happens, sounds of carving are playing each time the cursor is moved to a new lexia (though it sounds a bit more like the sound effect from an action movie when people get hit). These lexia all create a momentary poem and as this poem is evolving, the white stone in the back is carved into a sculpture. As the sculpture of David is complete, the poem ends.
From this, I would define CiP to be a kinetic poem. This because of the interactive aspect where you have to move the cursor for the lexia to appear and disappear again shortly after. I did, however, consider if it could be a fiction of sorts as it can be interpreted as a story as well. Why I ended up with the definition of kinetic poetry was because of the kinetic aspect being one of the dominating ones for this piece.
The meaning of this piece is created by the user. It will, because of its affordances, have a different meaning each time you make your way through the poem. In this kinetic poem, it is almost impossible to make the exact same poem twice because the smoothest motion of the cursor will result in going to a new lexia. Also, you will have to remember the exact spot of the lexia because it isn’t given where they are on the sculpture surface. There is furthermore many, many different lexia — they are presented in different colors, sizes and fonts — so it won’t be easy to find the same ones. As I tried to, I found that there were different lexia right next to them. At first, I thought the lexia changed and, therefore, you couldn’t create the same ones. They don’t, though, it is simply because there are many and it is hard to guide the cursor so slowly and in the exact same way that it is very hard to create two completely similar poems.
From this, it is clear that the text positions the reader as the main drive for the poem. You, as the reader, have to go through it, create it and keep going until it ends. It allows you to take the lead, but still only offers the same lexia to create the poem each time — though it isn’t cheap in these.
Speaking symbolic meaning, this piece can be read in different ways. For example, the lexia appearing is actually speculations about David, the crowd watching David and Goliath, the sculptor, and the crowds viewing the sculpture. For each time you go through the poem, different speculations are connected to each other, creating different opinions. It allows the reader to create new meaning throughout the poem each time. This awakens a notion of “don’t let others speculations stick to you as everyone will have different versions and you yourself should make your own interpretation” — for me at least. I think it is because of the very different outcomes of poems that you can be left with.
The text “And remember where you put your ghosts” kind of builds to this understanding for me. When leaving the piece and rolling the cursor over “exit here,” the text is replaced with “leaving all the other ghosts behind.” The ghosts would be symbolizing the different speculations — remember where you put your ghosts would be: remember which speculations you put together and interpret the piece from. Leaving the speculations behind would be leaving all the other interpretations behind, all the other meanings the piece/you could create from it.
My experience of this piece is very positive. I found that I wanted to start over, try different paths with the cursor, try to make a context of the different lexia and see what I was left with. It is dependent on the interaction of the user and it, therefore, lets you be a great part of the poem. The window for the piece itself is quite small and the almost fragile poem that will change by the slightest movement of the cursor makes it quite hard to make your way through it without glipping a lexia or two. However, I found it very enjoyable and fascinating with the different outcomes and the different speculation that was to be found.
The sculpture stays the same through the kinetic poetry that is created before it — maybe the picture is worth more than a thousand words.