Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This Week in Digital Thought

So we've been winding down the semester by being overly stressed and putting together a myriad of projects.

Myself, I am working on an emulation of the Japanese poet Kenji Myazawa as well as working on a video project with Mark and Tom.

We've, in the last week, seemed to establish something of a focus out of the seemingly random. I knew we could do it and I commend us for it. Said focus is on the transitory and displaced sense often found in digital work and modern life. Our footage, tied together with the text Mark and I have worked on reflect a sense of narrative with an acknowledged denial of it. I'm pretty sure that's the smart way of putting it.

As for this semester as a whole, I've had a pretty good time with this class and I think have learned a lot. Not only to keep working on as I continue in the digital medium but also something that I can put into my work on the page. I think it's interesting and I can already see it in my work, how an awareness of sound and visual art are beginning to take more of a presence in my work.

On that note, I might write a little more in a bit but I just took a bite of my lunch and realized they've slipped in chicken instead of tofu.

I'm going to go scrape my mouth out now. Please enjoy a selection from the legendary hit makers of the 1980's Hall and Oates

To go on, I believe that this class's purpose, for a writer, is to begin to view text not only as written but also as an image, an action, and as sound. It's helped me immensely and I look forward to further study within this digital realm. Also the concept of remixing is in direct correlation with my own work, as I base a lot of my revision and poems on cut up technique.

So, yeah, those are my thoughts. I look forward to the remix class and taking this medium past experimentation and into more serious implementation in my writing.

Kenny Loggins

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another Video Example

Also this. More than anything ever, this.

I've been confusing ambiguous and equvical for too long

So in working on the project I've been trying out a lot of different things either while moving and filming or just sitting the camera down and allowing it to pick up what it can.

This has lead to a juxtaposition between the transitory and the seemingly still and is somewhat of a focus for our project. We're exploring the concept of capturing movement, either as a result of moving or being still while other things are.

A lot of footage we shot yesterday was on the light rail in Denver. It reminded me quite a bit of this Michele Gondry video.

Also, I think a bit of the focus is in on the idea of allowing things to blend, equivocating various footage through text and through mash up and forcibly viewing them at the same time.

I guess the idea is to offer glimpses or suggestions of narrative while at the same time denying it's advance into the video itself. Ya dig?

By tying things together we are suggesting there is a relation but by focusing on the transitory nature of the train footage we are also suggesting the idea of movement without destination and without relation. I picture that, if this were written rather than filmed, the main character would be constantly aware of what it is to be human. "This is me riding a train, going to the grocery store, shitting in a public restroom even though I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea" and so on. What the film will suggest is that all of these things are equivocal. No one thing is different from the other because they are all human things. (Unfortunately Mark was uncomfortable with the idea of filming anyone using a public laboratory, prude, so that won't be in there. Here's another Michele Gondry film relating to such a topic. (To be truthful I never brought the idea up to Mark. I guess this makes me the (I'm making a square sign with my index fingers right now)))

Here's a video that kind of relates to that. I'm really interesting the idea of someone misinterpreting things, whether on purpose or through the eyes of someone, in a sense, socially autistic.

I've been trying to find examples of the things we're working on or that are influencing my thoughts and am having trouble. Along with the equivocating of things I also imagine we'll slowly begin mislabeling things and placing more and more juxtaposing images together.

I have this vision of the "speaker" of the video as being hyper aware of the relative nature of being. Kind of an Allen Watts type of deal. Here's a link to him talking about Moksha. Listen to it, as the video is kind of lame.

Also, David Byrne thinks like this. At least the voice in a lot of his songs does. Like, "Don't Worry About the Government." I see the video as the life through that guy's eyes, kind of. We still have two weeks to drastically change things around.

These are my thoughts.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm torn on whether I want to write about Y0UNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES or Peter Horvath.

I suppose I'll talk a little about both.

Peter's work is amazing, I really liked the way he utilized multiple windows to convey his message. Also, the idea of putting multiple windows with different film is pretty interesting. I guess it speaks to the modern attention span, that we can view multiple things at the same time. It makes me wonder if we can actually pay attention to that many things at the same time. I don't think I can. I just had to leave my living room to write this, as Fargo is playing and I was having difficulty writing while musing on Minnesotan accents.

The Heavy Industries work was pretty cool too. I was disappointing that they all follow the same concept. There really wasn't much difference in any of them. Dakota is the best one, both for story and music. The idea of having words projected is pretty interesting. It kind of brings to question their value. some words are skimmed over and others are really focused on. The story still comes across though, which is interesting because I thought that each word would be more necessary than it is in the end. Also, I wonder if this story could work as straight forward piece of pros or if the music and the projection are giving it more strength.

Also, this looks cool.

Both help motivate me to make some mediocre film. WHOOO!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sure thing, Man. Or SURE THING MAN!

Side Note: Text in red was taken from, Dovetailing Details Fly Apart-All Over, Again, In Code, In Poetry, In Chreods. By Stephanie Strickland and Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo

For a traditional poet, there is a comparable need for awareness of historical, etymological, dialectical, regional, class-based, craft-based and musical aspects of speech and writing. Most poets begin with their mother tongue. Exceptions occur if they are natively multilingual like Gertrude Stein, or have chosen the language of their non-native home, like Beckett in French, or are writing in an ambivalently hated colonial tongue they aim to change from within, like Kamau Brathwaite or James Joyce. But a programmer chooses a language like a composer chooses instruments, for the things it does well or quickly, for its affordances, those fundamental properties that determine just how a thing could possibly be used. The code will only go as far as the programmer pushes it. Expert coders attain effects that artisan coders marvel at, not realizing until then that such work could be done in that particular coding language.

I completely agree with this. I further do not think pertains solely to the written be it in code or literature or art. Walking down the street there is an innate awareness in every human of the culmination of not only their history but of social history as a whole.

I do not agree with the idea of a programmer choosing a code like a composer chooses an instrument. I think that a composer chooses an instrument exactly like an author chooses a language, because of personal knowledge and desired effect. I don't think it relates to efficiency really.

This imperceptibility is referred to as 'transparence'. Interfaces called transparent allow us to interact/do what we're supposed to do without being aware of how the effects are obtained. We should perhaps speak instead about their opacity, given that we cannot see through them to the machine.

How does this relate to poetry? The idea that a reader does not see the length of time that has gone into a line but that they only see its end effect? I think that if a poem is written well, the length of time taken will come out, along with all else that went into it. In this way I do not see a correlation between poetry and code. There are many other places I do, but not here.

Though we have spoken, indeed, metaphorically of the 'life' of the program, it is not only metaphor. Mind enters world, not contained within skin, but as a circuit-loop feedback operation. [12] The living, and all living functions, are indissoluble from information-driven environmental loops which alone serve as units of survival. Animal mind, protected from 'real' impact by the physical world, negotiates its circuits by abstract, non-physically locatable, information.

I just think that's fucking amazing to think about. The idea that thoughts are not real until they are expressed. I would agree completely. The same exists with ideas not being real until they are tangible. It's all abstraction until it is able to be put into language or into code.

just man justices / just man just is, is

This just reminds me of something my friends and I do with the word "man." For example;
"That's a real drag, man." Or, "That-A-Real-DragMan!" Stoner speech can very easily be turned into really inventive super hero names.

As with poetry, syntax is not enough to keep code going. When code is compiled, it is read through by the compiler and checked mainly for syntax mistakes, but it is only in execution (the behavior, the running, the performance) that the programmer can tell if the code written is, indeed, accomplishing its intent. Only the original coder will be able to judge this, as the code may quite effectively be doing something else. It is the goal-oriented approach with which code is developed that ultimately drives a system of envisioning-thinking-writing-compiling-executing.

But Poetry does not always have a specific intent. It is sometimes an experimentation in interpretation or an experiment with multiple intents. The then layered notion of a programmed poem functioning it’s initial intent of looking correct (to the author on the screen) and it’s artistic intents of interpretation by an audience are two different things. Then again, how is this different from writing a poem with a desire for a certain aesthetic appeal? With line breaks in certain places or spaces in specific places. This can be difficult in a new interface or with a new program. For example, when I have tried to write poems in photoshop I don’t have as much success because I am not totally comfortable with the program and the code. I suppose this is the same I would feel trying to express my non-real creative intent in another environment such as painting for example. The same inert idea contained, for the author, in one medium may be impossible to display within another.

This is where translation, for example, fails.
El acento me pende del zapato;
Does not mean,
The accent dangles from my shoe;

Even here, in a very literal translation, intent is lost. Cultural reference is gone, as is language. Language choice, is intentional. To write within one code versus another is a choice based on the vernacular prowess of the author. This is also true within a language. While one might not contain the vocabulary of a Vallejo or Bulgokov or Leyner they can still completely express themselves. After all expression is done so with language and its manipulation. The extent of one’s expression is the extent of one’s ability to understand and manipulate the languages and tools at their disposal at the level of their understanding.

If one cannot function within a language then they will have a hard time existing in it. They will lurk in their thoughts, in code, unable to display themselves as tangible, as an interactable user face. In the same way, “Animal mind, protected from 'real' impact by the physical world, negotiates its circuits by abstract, non-physically locatable, information.”

This is not to say that one will not physically exist, they will. Don’t worry. But without the ability to communicate and without the ability for an author or artist or programmer or advertiser to express what is inside then there is in an improvable sense the notion that there is nothing to express.

In the same way that a child cannot express themselves, becomes frustrated, gives up and throws a tantrum so do we trying to express our art within a new program, perhaps without the tantrum. It is even frustrating for someone to truly be themselves, say, at a new job or in a new setting. One must, not to sound to punny, learn the code of conduct and how they can function within it.

Where innovation occurs in this is with the ability to conquer new codes and languages and settings and circumstances and be able to not only thrive within them but be able to use these things to express that next step. That place that before such language used to produce it and to make it affable or real (not just a lingering notion within the unreal mind) did not exist such ideas could not be actualized.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Monome and My Mind Blown

Ok, (Here's my First Garage Band Mix)

So I was discussing in class yesterday a device that basically used a mini player as a queue for text samples. This has led me to go far past where I was planning on taking my audio project. The device in question has been brought to the level of the monome. This is a midi, sound effect, video queue device that allows the artist, programmer, writer, musician to program in a series of beats or a musical progression while having the capability to manipulate samples live.


Riding my bicycle home just now after being shown the existence of this amazing device as well as a new sound mixing program that allows for more live, DJ like, manipulation I came to a new ground of possibilities as a writer. An author can take cut up technique to amazing new places with this. Further it allows the author the ability to have visuals correspond with words and sound or music or whatever. The strange thing about this is it would be entertaining to watch and listen to someone remix a poem or a story, live. I think it would be the closest way possible of literally getting inside of an artists thought process. The audience, or reader, or patron could see the creative process unfold and come together through loops with correlating images evoked in the author by the terms or sounds used.

While I will most definitely not be taking things to this level for my current sound project I do think it is amazing and am pretty much geeked about using this as a style of writing. It really places the performative aspect of literature into a new realm. Also, making it accesible to those otherwise not into poetry, or writers not into music or art (no such thing).

Again, wow.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

completely haphazard thoughts on a project


This project really started about 7 years ago when I heard a spoken word album of Jack Kerouac's work. The poem specifically was, Skid Row Wine. Enthralled as I was with the beat movement I wrote a very poor emulation of this poem, which I will mention no more of except it reflected my growth as someone dealing with the ideas of fringe living, DIY culture, cheap wine, and the beautiful artistic depravity of it all. (It should go without saying that I was living out of my car and cleaning and cooking in exchange for couch space.)

A couple years later I was living in New York and, being an idealist drunkard, thought to make the best of my impoverished state. What other's saw as impoverished I found to be something to be sought after. Not like those trust funders panhandling on St. Marks mind you. Fuckers who acted the part of the starving artist and afforded 1200 a month studios. Although I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ingrid (I think that was her name. It was unfitting of a 22 year old and better suited of an elderly Slovakian woman. The kind that lived in this neighborhood long before it became hip.) for allowing my girlfriend at the time, and subsequently me, to stay in her place while she went up to Connecticut and then to Morroco for the months of January and February. Also, sorry Liz never gave you any rent.

Oh, to know it young. And be a poet.

I thought this mantra to myself as a deceleration of everything the rest of the world had forgotten. I swilled and sacrificed myself to, "this beautiful young life that drowns in cirrhosis like cheap wine.” I wrote poems, worked shitty jobs, went to communist bar open mic nights, and generally acted as a total hipster longing to afford clothes from American Apparell.

Good times, moreover.

Last fall I looked at this poem once again, from the point of paractaxis while also embracing Burroughs' cut up technique. Further I embraced a fragmented take on language and developed an interesting remix of the poem I'd written a number of years ago. Oh, let's not forget an always present interest in fractals.

So here we are. My plan is to turn this poem into a sound piece. In the reading of the poem, the original poem, I plan to take off into a sound fractal each space where a word or phrase was used in the remix. This will branch out into a reverberated mayhem while in the background I hope to incorporate the original sound piece I was inspired by some 7 years ago. Or at least the general depravity the piece incorporates.

Also I hope to employ some of the techniques found in fractal sound art within this.

It's kind of all over the place right now, but I think that's where I hope to keep it, as it is now a reflection on a very disillusioned voice, both in the original Skid Row Wine piece as well as in my emulation of the piece from the vantage of an equally as inebriated idealist some 40 years later.


Relating to fractals: By my understanding of the definition of a fractal is that it can be viewed in the same way no matter how it is looked at. Basically whether zoomed in or from far out it appears the same.

The way I hope to relate this to sound and to the evolution of a piece from a sound piece based on a written piece to a written emulation of that sound piece to a rewrite of the emulation to a cut up remix combined with images and finally to another sound piece fusing together each of these separate pieces. Does that make sense?

In the end I would like to see that each of these, individually, express a common idea or scope or feel. Further, I hope the combination of these pieces in layering creates a fuller representation of this core idea that lingers in each of them. Also, it would be nice if it sounds cool.

We'll see.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More Rants on Capitalism (Who'd of Guessed?)

The concept of culture jamming found its way, by name, into focus in the mid 90's due to the dubious efforts of anti-globalization groups such as AdBusters and The Yes Men. The concept is to simply cause a ruckus, make your point known. It is an effort often done through the same channels as advertising and propaganda. Logos are manipulated, flash animation catches the eye before anyone realizes they are being had. In a lot of ways I find it to be advertising for something worth while.

Ad Busters biggest, and annual, effort is Buy Nothing Day (BND) . Or as it is more commonly referred to by Target Wallmart and Kohls' shoppers, Black Friday. The event arises functions as a protest against over consumption. Participants are encouraged to, instead of raking in the deals on sweatshop products, reflect at home with friends and loved ones. Read a book, Make some gifts rather that purchasing them, or really do whatever they would like that abstains from exchanging currency. Inherently there is a bit of hypocrisy in the concept because the book read was more than likely purchased, the scarf made was sewn from fabric that was purchased. The idea then takes participants into a state of realization and hopefully one of greater consumer awareness.

Where culture jamming gets into this are in the protests out in the streets, the mock corporate shirt logos snuck into stores, and the switching of Barbie and GI-Joe voice-boxes, as done by The Yes Men. In fact, on the Friday after Thanksgiving of 2003 myself and a few friends went around malls in the Grand Rapids and Muskegon area (a youth spent in Michigan) combing the parking lots for american flag bumper stickers. We replaced them with this:

I guess you could say we were working on our night moves. No? Running against the wind might have been a better choice.

Regardless this, and the work done by The Yes Men, are both methods of culture jamming. Now, what is culture jamming? isn't it just protesting under a euphemism. Protesting became something uncool after punks replaced hippies and apathy replaced it all. (see this article, also by adbusters.) What was anyone to do inorder to motivate lazy hipsters, hippies afraid of fulfilling their stereotypes, and middle class consumers fearful of joining a dangerous subculter. A simple rebranding of social action was all it took. Culture Jamming is New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, and Reduced Fat all in one. The only difference is it is the first use of marketing ploys used to undermine marketing.

Side note, my favorite site to listen to free music is currently brought to me by McDonalds. It's wonderful that they can provide such a service while I'm working on an article that undermines them. check out Imeem for streaming music and getting tempted by the dollar menu. I know I do.

In watching a movie last week by The Yes Men (movie by same title) I began to think about these issues once again. While my feelings on corporate take over of america and the world at large are still quite a concern of mine I have, in recent years, changed my way of fighting them. I simply try to live well, which to me means minimizing my corporate participation, stealing as much as I can from larger organizations, and other hypocritical and self righteous endeavors.

Now, here is what I was wondering about The Yes Men. There is a scene where they are purchasing clothes in London. One is holding a button up shirt, still packaged, and asks if it would look professional enough for his upcoming presentation where he is posing as a member of the WTO. Now, he is giving a presentation satirizing the shameful production of textiles worn in the developed world.

So why buy the new shirt off the street?
Why buy McDonalds to prove they are awful?
Why waste thousands of dollars on travel?
Can this culture jamming be done without participating in the corporate culture you are trying to destroy?
Does it make much of a difference beyond simply being insightful and comical?
Is protesting simply a construction of the dominant class to assuage social deviants?

One last point: in the film the only time anyone vissibly disagrees with The Yes Men's satire is in the college lecture. This is the last great platform for free speech. After this it is off to the business world where to descent is to oppose progress and efficiency. It's the same avenue for a lot in the creative world too. I have a friend with a degree in art direction who is vying to renew the Navy print campaign for fear of loosing out to a lower bidder. Where does this corporate takeover of our talents, thoughts, and essence stop? And as for the government outsourcing its propaganda to private ad firms. This is the topic of another blog.

This is reminiscent of my largest apprehension towards digital work, it is inherently corporate. This is also true with printed work or really anything short of moving in with the sasquatch, which is just a tourist trap for Target, Wallmart, and Kohls shoppers.

This is what really makes me thankful to be able to write a blog, the last free avenue of speech. I just hope they don't find it when I'm looking for a job.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Jello Biafra

This kind of fits in to my earlier post.

Proletariat Bourgeoisie Remix

Last night I began a PBR induced debate about the modern day proletariat. Really not any new ground for me, as I truly enjoy both arguing and communism.

Newly discovered to me were the pontifications of Wark McKenzie who identifies a new struggle for the working class masses.

Inside A Hacker Manifesto Wark explores new ideas of ownership and thus arises new ideas of control and submission. The rise of the internet has brought the rise of new commodities by what he identifies as the "Vectoralist" class. These new commodities are information and the avenues information is channeled through. I had difficulty differentiating this from a straight forward post-marxist concept and an all together modern version of The Communist Manifesto.

Speaking for communism and anarchic ideals is a pursuit of mine because nearly everyone disagrees with me. It is a wonderful way to say, "Hey, I'm going to start an argument that I can't win because it has been historically proven not to work. And yes, I am incredibly self righteous. Ready? GO!"

In order to make an argument such as this successful one needs to pick tangible points.

I, wrongfully chose music as information, and thus as a commodity.

My friend's counterpoint was that music is not information.

I did not see this.

Music, she said, is a product made by a group or individual just like a lamp or a chair or any other tangible, and thus purchasable, product.

My thoughts were that music is now a purchasable product because it has already been commodified. Basically I was reiterating McKenzie's thoughts into, "The Vectoral class owns the rights to music say and sells it as property. Music, in and of itself is just sound. The creation of sound is most sensibly owned by the waves of air pushed and vibrated upon to produce it. Then the artist who created that sound. Is the sound the property of the one who sold the sound making device, the recording studio the sound was recorded in? Where along this line does something such as sound become property? When it is made illegal to posses without paying for it? The Vector class needs information or in this case sound in order to thrive. It needs to have something that can not be obtained without the vector class' assistance. The hacker class undermines this by releasing this information without charge, taking away it’s property identification. It is then the necessity of the vector class to develop a new property that is unobtainable without being purchased. The process repeats and both are proven to be dependent upon one another."

Last night I was, however, not this articulate.

We also moved into the realm of plagiarism as something that the vector class does a good job of policing and prohibiting. I disagreed, of course, saying something to the effect of, "You can't like own a potato, man."

This, as is usually the case with me, was quoted from an episode of The Simpsons. So, to be affable in conversation I am required, at times, to plagiarize. Is quoting a song or a line from a book or television show then plagiarism?

We both agreed that this was not.

When then does something become plagiarized?

Modern culture is inherently based on plagiarism in my opinion. All culture is. We are the summation of the civilized world. Our entire argument was fueled by things we've read, seen, and heard. Isn't that plagiarism? The words we used to make our points are taken from words we have remembered from other contexts. Language in and of itself is plagiarized from older forms and older languages and in the end sounds to represent objects. Language was originally then a way of uncommodifying (is that a word?) something. A way of making something abstract. An avenue to make reference to a thing without it happening or being there. Language then in and of itself is plagiarized from emotions and objects. (With this in mind I would like to see someone communicate strictly with emotion, rock, dirt, and possibly water. You know, as a performance piece.)

Plagiarism is nothing new.

Why then is plagiarism and copyright infringement something to be prosecuted for? Why is there a hacker class?

Because information has been commodified, it has been turned into a product. Further, not thought, but the avenue to convey thought has been commodified. In order to express myself for this class I need to obtain a computer, get on the internet, find a website that allows me to post my thoughts, and finally type (a plagiarized for of communication dating back to the 1800's. Stolen from the more traditional pen and paper genre). The avenue for information is now brought to me by Comcast and Apple and it is filled with impulse distractions.

This is of course not a new concept either. 25 years ago my thoughts would be the culmination of RandomHouse Publishing (for example) and Remington & Sons (makers of the first typewriter). An interesting side note on this is that when I just now typed in typewriter to Google (another company commodifiying information) the first suggestions were not information on typewriters but places I could purchase one. I suppose this shows us existing on the cusp of information commodity and that of the tangible.

The idea of turning information into product is nothing new. It is the base for a capital driven system to give things value. Without value how can one thing be weighed against another. Without values how can a decision be right or wrong? Without a given value nothing could be decided. These values are based upon past experience and historical evidence. Are our values then not plagiarized?

In a given society where one is, through the culmination of plagiarized civil history, brought to the opinion that all things have a both moral and tangible value why then not make that leap of assimilating information into the same realm as something that took information to make.

In a digital realm information is the product of the information needed to convey said message. Programmers develop language in order for laypeople to communicate. By the very nature of things language and the ideas needed to create language are commodified by the vector class. Without this process there is no way to convey an idea. If a vector or bourgeoisie did not control the means of production of information who would?
Where can a proletariat class thrive?

How would information be communicated and shared without an avenue, or language, to convey it it through?

The term itself, proletariat, is plagiarized from the Latin, proles, meaning "offspring." In modern terms the hacker class is an offspring of the vector class, the class in control of the means of production. It thrives because of the reaction to and manipulation of information and emerging forms of communication brought about by the interplay between itself and the vector class.

The two have been codependent in various forms since the introduction of private property, be it physical or intellectual. The ability to communicate, to convey information, has always been a commodity cherished by those in possession of it and used as a tool to make submissive those without it or trying to seek it.

Yes, knowledge is still free but you will need to buy a mac book and have a high speed internet connection to contribute.

And no, none of this knowledge is new.

And yes, I will have another PBR.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mouchette and Tralfamadorian Existance

It's always nice to learn new things, obtain usable insights that will help you later in life. I'm talking beyond that which will further the progression of my own work. Cultural universals that supersede language barriers.

With the advent of the internet as a standard communication tool these insights often pass over us and are under appreciated. I wonder if this deters us from the nuances in daily life and leaves us to only notice overwhelming profundities.

In reading the socially interactive piece Mouchette I noticed a section that allowed for anonymous advice for pre-teen depression. Here I noted the following tidbit in a section entitled "What is the best way to kill yourself when you're under 13?". Gracie writes, "LETHAL INJECTION OF STARS AND BUTTERFLIES." Doesn't get more insightful than that.

All kidding aside I think this brings up an interesting point about the presentation of a work on the internet or really in any modern medium. Because of the access to technology and the ready ability to not only add to something but also manipulate it an artist is at the will of his or her audience. By allowing the audience to not only interact with the work but to also offer input into it is a risky move on the part of the artist. Where does the author censor his or her own creation when it has been defaced? Is that the point?

Mouchette, the interactive piece, is based (I believe) off the 1967 French film by same title.

Mouchette also means little fly, lending well to the section Lullaby for a dead fly, which I found to be the most interesting.

Here, Mouchette is deceased. Yet she is not because she is posting the mourners comments on the site. The mourners' comments stream about the page and proclaim Mouchette to not be dead because her creation (which I've found reference to being originally created by a Canadian man) is still alive and thriving.
Since Mouchette is an all together fictitious character she can never die in the literal sense because she also has never lived. But because of the interaction allowed in this medium she takes on a much more emotional presence to her audience than were she simply words on a page or an actress in a film.

The imagination of these website patrons not only allows them to be fans of Mouchette and post advice on her suicide site. They are also, through delusion or suspension of disbelief, allowed to mourn her in a more profound way than a conventional work of fiction.

They also do not mourn in a conventional way. Instead each offers philosophies of the their take on the digital afterlife. Mouchette, in the same way people often mention tangible loved ones, is "still with us." (Despite never really being with us to begin with.) Mouchette's website is still updated daily or so, people still contribute to it, still interact with her creation, with her. And even though she is dead in certain portions of the site it is irrelevant to her character as a whole. It's a lot like the Tralfamadorians of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. While deceased at one moment they are alive in a great many others. There is no need for chronology.

So Mouchette, like any tangible art work, becomes timeless in a way. Still, like a tangible work of art, Mouchette will only exist as long as aesthetics allows.

Once Mouchette's website has become outdated will she parish?

Well, the website is already outdated but I have seen postings from patrons as recently as January 22nd 2009. So in this way Mouchette has already stood a small test of time. I suppose she will parish when her links are lost or when the server respirating her breaks down. She might also homogenize into culture like other hijacked and manipulated thoughts, ideas, and works of art. In some ways she has already done this. The website is based off a movie, based off a novel, based off an idea from an author, based off of certain experiences and teachings that led him to said idea.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hypertext and the Confessional Memoir

The early experimentation with hypertext in a literary form seems to have focused mainly in the genre of the confessional memoir.
The three examples read (Body, Six Sex Scenes, and These Waves of Girls) were also written in the mid to late 90s, which makes me wonder if it was the genre best suited for the hypertext format or if it were simply a popular genre to write in at the time. In researching further I was unable to find out the popularity of the confessional memoir in relation to the advent of the hypertext format. Anybody know?

Regardless, I do think that the format serves well for the genre. It allows memory to be something discovered for the reader. By which I mean the reader is able to make the same connection between things as the author via the medium of the link. Also, it gives the author the chance to connect more than one memory to another and more than one topic to the same memory.

For instance, in My Body, Jackson says, “Far better, maybe, if we had a happy void in the center of the face.” this line acts as a link that takes the reader from the musings on the nose to those of the eye. The connection of each body part in some way reminding of the other or in a way being similar is more easily accomplished via hypertext. In an interview with Bold Type Jackson stated, "My mind doesn't travel in a straight line, and neither do my stories. I like digression and interruption and the clash of styles and voices."

Jackson also discusses at one point in My Body the way that she would make this work if it were tangible. She says that she would make a wooden body and provide corresponding drawers for each section. I simply found this interesting because it is something actually done in the Bodies Exhibition currently touring museums around the U.S..

The downside of hypertext is there is a chance that a reader will simply not click on all the links. I found this especially frustrating in These Waves of Girls. The author has portions meant to be read in a linear form or that at least read as a narrative when followed using the "next" and "last" arrows. However, these scenes also provide other links to other portions of the story and disrupt the narrative. While I understand the author's notion of memory and thus a memoir not being viewed in a conventional format I did feel that a number of the stories contained within the text to be better told conventionally. Which is to say, I did not see them as interesting in a non-linear format. It was just unnecessary.

Where I found the hypertext working best was in Adrienne Eisen's, Six Sex Scenes. The story was easily read without the convention of narrative for one. Also I found that the jumping around lent well to the narrators style of thinking which is kind of paratactic in a sense.
I might be partial to this one because I found the character was easier to relate to or because I believe I read this story at some point in my undergraduate education. (You just don't forget a story like On My Fifteenth Birthday.) Regardless of these reasons I simply found Eisen to be more captivating than the other two readings, which I think is the most important part of reading text, be it in a digital or conventional format. Without a well written, captivating story to tell no amount of technical innovation is going to really help. Keep in mind this is not to say the other two stories were not interesting both in form and content. I simply found Scenes to work the best within the genre.
My body would be really cool, visually, were it an actual sculpted piece. And I think that These Waves of Girls would be better suited in a more orthodox form.