Final Reflective Blog Post

As I read through the blog posts I’ve written, I notice an evolution in my approach to the works and concepts we discussed this semester. In my very early posts, I often found connections between recurring themes and real-world events, while subsequent posts often were very nitty-gritty and detailed to demystify works, following an approach that  is more macroscopic and all-encompassing  in my writing. In my August 30 blog post, for instance, my observations were very much tied to the concepts introduced in the reading. Here I attempted to connect the digital presence in our daily lives, through dating apps like Tinder, and how that might have game-like features described in Jeanne-Marie Ryan’s properties of digital environments.

I continue to find links and connections between our readings and my experiences in the real world. On September 11, I wrote my post just as I was beginning to play with different ideas and concepts of “chance movement” for a dance piece that I wanted to choreograph. In the post, I wrote, “[t]here is something attractive about the peculiarity of an “anti poetic” form of art that is generated when art is left to the vagaries of chance,” and I believe that this series of thoughts and impulses led me to create the piece that I now have, and will be showcased at the Duke Family Performance Hall in the spring. Connecting the theme of “The Random” with art in general helped me better approach (and create) non-traditional forms of art and literature.

These observations and my impulse to connect recurring themes in class with real-world issues and experiences resulted in the fruit of my first Tracery project. My blog post from September 17 is my artist statement on Make America Grate Again. I intended this to be a comment on the randomness, unpredictability, and entertainment-factor of President Trump’s speeches by using Tracery to randomize the words “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” This was all to show that even computer-generated text can create the same randomness and entertainment of the most captivating Trump speech, without the damaging real-world consequences.

I notice a continued trend of comparative analysis, but also an increased shift from concept and theory to specifics about the works that we looked at in class. My post from September 20 compares the works Dakota and Abra and comments on the opposing views presented in two other blog posts of the day. I consider this a big step forward, in breaking out of my sheltered brainspace and reflective analogies between the digital and real worlds. Here too, I notice connections between the works and some of our readings—between Abra and Gysin’s “The Cut-Up Method”—but I begin to apply these concepts to already existing works, the cut-up method applied to Dakota). As I begin to find interconnections between recurring concepts and new works, the intention behind the “final port” starts making sense.

My October 2 post is very detail-oriented. Here I notice an increasing tendency to look for meaning in very specific details of the work. My post reads almost as if it is trying to decode the work through a single “fake website”. I clearly did not get close to decoding it, but I once again followed my impulse to connect the work to real-world, and addressed the work as a commentary on the ubiquity ad “uncanny” nature of surveillance in America.

What I find interesting about my October 16 post on The Network Effect is how I connect the specifics of the work with the big picture in addressing the creator’s desired effect through the work. I said, “This work is both overwhelming and empowering as it speaks in a unique voice which is composed of thousands of voices (Rodley 86).” Here too I find myself itching to decode and find a way (The Network Effect’s Instagram) to satiate my anxiety from running out of time each time I tried to watch it. I have a much more big-picture-approach here where I comment on the patterns that emerge out of the data swirling around us that enables us to see the behaviors and emotions that bind all humans.

In my Oct 25 post on Her Story I begin to pay greater emphasis on the rules of notice, and the reader/player’s role in the work. I begin to score my own active listening and engagement with the work in uncovering the mystery and procedure in the story to reach a satisfactory end. I begin to notice how different versions of truth could exist simultaneously for different players.

In my November 8 post on Between the Page and Screen, I comment on the “in-between” world that exists between the physical space of the book and the virtual space of the text. I comment on the presence of both the affordances of books as well as the properties of digital environments in this work and how one could not exist without the other in this work.

Overall, there has been an evolution in my understanding of concepts of digital work and how they may intersect with and comment on our lives. I notice a level of sophistication in my writing and understanding of concepts in the later blog posts that was missing in the earlier ones. I tend to elaborate less on the readings and explanations of concepts but more on their implication and intersection in the works.

 

Bridging the Gap Between Virtual and Physical

I’m not quite sure where to start with this piece. After struggling to make it work on my own laptop (with mild success), I ended up watching a read-through on YouTube. Although there were a few moments where I felt captivated, like when the words formed images or fell down like rain at the end, mostly I was underwhelmed. The poem/letters didn’t make much sense, and like the Abra app, it seemed like it was just a mish-mash of flowy sounding words in an attempt to create something vaguely artistic.

The ‘Scaramouche’, which pops up a few times in this work, is a sort of comedic archetype in Italian art/theatre

To touch on the sense of the ’embodied’, how our own movements and touches contribute to the execution of digital narratives, I think Between Page and Screen presents an interesting case study. As their website states, the book will not be readable unless we render it so by holding it up to a webcam. But, even if we manage to do that, the manner in which we hold it or even the length of time we hold it up can affect our experience in reading it. For example, when I was attempting to read the book, I had to be very particular about how far away I held the book from the screen and where my fingers were if I wanted to get a clear picture.

Even though this work just doesn’t suit my taste, it does offer an intriguing look at how the distinction between the physical and virtual spheres can be blurred. As a previous blog post mentioned, it captures “the ‘in-between’ world”, so to speak, that many creators haven’t tapped into as of yet. It will be exciting to see how this ‘world’ is explored further as technology progresses. I think the iPhone X’s 3D emoji feature shows one playful way this could manifest.

 

An Augmented reading: A bridge of time

Here we see an example of a page from Between Page and Screen

Technology continues to evolve   around us, pushing the boundaries of what we believe to be possible and changing the way we perceive our environment.  One of the greatest examples of how far technology has came is most certainly augmented reality which is being increasingly implemented in our world in media such as Pokemon go. I perfectly remember sitting in front of my television as a child watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles play around in a virtual reality type video game simulator and the excitement it brought me to imagine such a device. Luckily in my lifetime we are starting to see well designed virtual reality devices and augmented reality devices which bring not only games to life but books also.  Between Page and Screen implements augmented reality to tell a story of a love affair and in doing so creates and a interesting experience.  While many are enthralled at oddity of the book(including me) it is more than a unique book to add to your collection. Rather it is a bridge between the past and present. The book serves as a way to remind us that literature is so much more than just printed words and even a story,  literature is also the experience of reading, the emotions it evokes, and the process in which we do it by connecting two platforms we are familiar with.  Even the title Between Page and Screen plays with the idea of inter-media experiences and draws upon the readers curiosity to discover what may be in between.  

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.