The Blurred Lines of Physical and Digital Environments

Between Pages and Screen is a fascinating piece of work that combines elements of both the print and digital media in the three-dimensional space while bringing our attention to the intersection of the digital space and the tangible physical space in which we exist. I read this work with Claire, and after overcoming several “technical” hurdles, we became increasingly aware of all the participatory aspects of the work, such as holding the book open in front of the screen, flipping and adjusting the page, etc., without which reading the text was not possible. This work creates a magical space that converges the digital and print media, making it possible for the reader to explore the “in-between” world that exists between the physical space of the book and the virtual space of the text. It combines both the affordances of a bound book described in Matthew Kirschenbaum’s “Bookscapes” (2008), as well as the essential features of the digital environment defined by Janet Murray’s Hamlet on the Holodeck (1997). This work is both sequential and random, volumetric, finite, offers comparative visual space, and is readable and writable (Kirchenbaum, 2008). It is also procedural, participatory, spatial and encyclopedic- which encompass all four essential properties of the digital space (Murray, 1997). It’s important to notice that many of these qualities are made possible only with the interaction of the digital and physical environments. For instance, the physical book is simply pages of black and white geometric patterns and only becomes “readable” when it is held in front of the computer screen and combined with the digital space of the work. Additionally, none of the properties of the digital environment would hold without the physical book.

 

Between Page and Screen combines the physical and digital environments of literature

Between the Pages and Screen not only allows for the interaction of these two spaces of art and literature, but also blurs the lines between the the digital and physical environments. As the words jump out of the image of the pages on the screen, the characters “P” and “S” (which Claire and I decided are references to the Page and the Screen) begin to share our physical space and are no longer living in our imagination. What adds to the overall impact of this interaction between the physical space of the book (and the reader) and the virtual space that is shared with us through the screen is that we see our own image on the screen, book open in hand, as the words spring to life on the screen. This work is sometimes obscure and vague and simply a play with words and rhyme, and sometimes loaded with meaning trying to unravel this very literal interaction between page and screen made possible by the reader’s participation.