Strange things happen to the reader when printed matter unlocks digital delights!
In early June an international collection of e-lit was installed in a gallery setting in downtown Providence (Rhode Island, USA) for the Arts Program of the Electronic Literature Organization 2010 Conference (ELO_AI), including my own piece, Underbelly. There were many wonderful works presented but I’d like to pick out a few that made me think about transliteracy in particular: Requiem, Ethereal Landscapes and Between Page And Screen.
The creators of these works augment their digital art and e-poetry with print, employing a delightful topsy-turvy kind of transliteracy, whereby the printed matter becomes a device for reading the digital, rather than the usual way remediation goes when texts originated for print are digitized. Reading these works, you wonder, where is the poem, where is the story? The poem, the art is powerfully and clearly present, but you’re aware that it doesn’t exist in the computer and it doesn’t exist on the page – it’s between these realms, slipping and sliding along the virtuality continuum – or perhaps it’s the reader who is transliterately sliding around in mixed reality?
It’s an experience that simultaneously displaces and enchants the human reader. It slides you into a magical zone where somehow your corporeal reading equipment – eyes (and reading glasses) – have been substituted by a black & white graphic and a webcam or barcode reader. It’s only when, and if, you allow yourself to be transformed like this that the poetry appears for you.
Have a look at the works, see where they take you…
Requiem by Charles Fisher and Caitlin Fisher
“Requiem is an augmented reality poem in which digital imagery and sound is superimposed on a physical object — in this case the card with the black and white marker. Simply hold the marker up to the webcam to begin experiencing the piece.”
Requiem, which incorporates a poem written by her father, is part of a larger, more fragmented work by Caitlin Fisher “about collections, hoarding and the things we save when people die” called Cardamom of the Dead. Download and print out a marker.
Landscapes by by Alexander Mouton and Christian Faur
“Ethereal Landscapes is an interactive electronic installation that immerses a viewer into a photographic artists’ book and generative video and audio data-base which a viewer can interact with in real-time through scanning the bar codes on the pages of an accompanying book….
“The concept comes from our love of the immersive quality of books (which can be held), of sound (which surrounds you), and of video (which engages your sense of temporality through its movement).”
Page And Screen written by Amaranth Borsuk and programmed by Brad Bouse
“…is an augmented-reality chapbook. Like a digital pop-up book, you hold the words in your hands…
“The poems—a series of cryptic letters between two lovers, P and S—do not exist on either page or screen, but in an augmented reality only accessible to the reader who has both the physical object and the device necessary to read it.”
Watch the video or print out the preview marker and try it for yourself (you’ll need a webcam).