Night / plebiscite (or on “Pentametron”)

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from “Pentametron”

Though I’ve enjoyed reading numerous e-lit pieces so far this semester, “Pentametron” was the first piece to really spur some excitement. It makes me giddy.

One thing that I’ve thought about a lot in regard to electronic literature is why exactly the electronic piece of it is so important. Although they’re formatted for the web, some of the stories feel as though they would read just fine in a more traditional format. One thing that I’ve found truly special about electronic literature, however, is that a piece can be ever-evolving. Yes, an author can add a forward to their book when they release a new edition and JK Rowling can publish a piece on what Harry Potter is up to long after the release of her original series, but the “first” pieces still exist in their original form on someone’s bookshelf. An author has to call the creative process quits and publish something eventually, and though they can always write another book or publish a New Yorker short story the thing that they originally published forever exists just as it did it was sent to print. Two years ago, the music world went wild when Kanye West began the long release process of his “The Life of Pablo” record. This hype was untraditional in the sense that the public wasn’t waiting for a set release date. They had many release dates, and they were waiting for the official one. Apparently Kanye couldn’t get it perfect, because he kept releasing the record and then deciding to change things — sometimes in the middle of a live performance. The record that was put out on listening platforms wasn’t the “official” record, and quite frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if he was still working on it. While this connects strongly to our class discussion involving the “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin” and if we’ll ever see an update, another part of the Kanye record release situation really fits with “Pentametron.” Part of the reason “TLOP” was so successful was that people were excited to be in on the process; they kept waiting to see what might come next. Pentametron is updated almost daily, so the fun never has to end. As times change new topics come up in the retweeted tweets, so the poem is always fresh — there’s no “sell by” date because it’s always evolving.

Part of the fun of pentametron is that it takes something traditional like iambic pentameter and juxtaposes it with tweets about Justin Timberlake and Frank Ocean. Shakespeare’s sonnets are a little outdated today, but as long as the bot is running “Pentametron” will never be.

On “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin”

Out of all four E-Lit pieces I had the choice to write about for this week’s blog, “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin” sold me based on name and the fact that I didn’t have to download anything/take up computer space (I wonder if this prospect deters others from fuller exploration of pieces such as  “Dwarf Fortress”).

The “Hobo Lobo” site looks old, and besides the gorgeous color choices it’s not the most visually appealing (the hand drawn illustrations are awesome, but the juxtaposition with font choice is strange). This ends up not being as much of a problem when you’re into the story, but at first it’s a little off putting.

Clicking the button marked “psst” at the top of the page (because of course you’re going to click it!) leads you right to the author’s website. Nice job controlling site traffic, Stevan Zivadinovic.

Because the site is old, it takes a while to load. Illustrations show up layer by layer instead of all at once, offering a neat little peek into Zivadinovic’s creative process. Because the illustrations were hand drawn I often forgot about the importance of searching them for easter eggs. When I did look, I found a number of fun sound effects (a croak when you click the frog and so forth).

What really sold me (upon first read(?) through) was the sixth page. A slow procession of hand drawn characters move across a landscape that spans four pages of its own. The colors are cozy and, although you have to wait a while to see the whole shebang and might be tempted to click through, the wait is worth it. And then … you’re taken out of the piece’s world and into a page of credits and author notes.

To be honest, after my first go through I had no idea what I’d just seen. Where was the story besides a few cute drawings? Deciding to begin again, I realized that you have to SCROLL HORIZONTALLY to see more. There is a story to follow, complete with sounds and images and text content. Should there be an instruction page or should I just look harder?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about e-lit thus far, one look is never ever enough.

Also, the night/outdoor drawings to red collage panel is GORGEOUS. I’ve never seen something like that on a computer, just at art fairs with magazine collages.

 

Monday Blog / 4 September

I’m jumping into all of this a little last minute without much knowledge about how or what I should be doing, but that can be good right? I still have thoughts!

For this post, I’m choosing to respond to “like stars in a clear night sky” by Shariff Ezzat.

And what better way to start off a semester of e-lit than with a particularly striking line: “I am full of stories.”

Compared to other e-lit pieces I’ve come across, this played more ethereal. The formatting is lovely, and the sounds/voice works surprisingly well for being played out of my computer speakers. I didn’t mute it, which is important. Even the font is really sweet. “Pretty” I suppose.

In this piece, a calming male voice begins by speaking in arabic while english subtitles appear on the bottom of the screen. Everything that is said appears once again when the voice stops, little pieces of the monologue can be found when scrolling over one of the pages many stars.

The small bits of text you get when clicking on a star read like short poems. I’m sure you could spend a long time digging into them, but they read to me like a lullaby.

Not every star on the page has a story attached, and searching for them takes patience. However, the page had a sort of calming effect — I didn’t feel like running my mouse all over so I could be done quickly. When you finally land on a story it’s like finding a little gem or present.

These are mere observations, and they’re not very analytic (I’ll get better). All I know for certain is that some e-lit texts have horrible graphics, and some are lovely. I enjoy the pretty ones more, and the sound of bells and bird chirps doesn’t hurt.

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my favorite. am I “you” ?