Through the use of tracery, I created a social commentary based on the Black Lives Matter movement. I did this by researching a substantial number of police shootings and putting the data-which includes date, state, area, mode of brutality- into tracery in order to show the feasibility in which these shootings can happen any black man according to date, location, and activity. The number of shootings and possibilities when generated randomly through tracery demonstrate that these shootings are likely occur to any black man based on the data. Christopher Funkhouser’s ideas about computer generated poems can be applied to this project in the way that the “choices in input texts were not accidental” (Funkhouser 249) because my project, like “Balestrini’s avant-garde” computer generated poetry, were made for a purpose, not randomly-generated inconsequentially. Funkhouser explores the history of computer-generated works of poetry in “First-Generation Poetry Generators” by exposing earlier methods as well as ways in which various authors have made generated poetry. He explores the repetition and how technology has its limitations. Although it does have limitations, I think Funkhouser can go further in exploring the way that electronic poetry and overall electronic literature can be used to send a message just like conventional works can.
In general, the art of these tracery projects are simply remarkable because of the capacity in which an input can generate a combination of outcomes. The variety of outputs, and combination of outputs is amazing. According to Noah Wardrip-Fruin, the “combinatory techniques allow a relatively small number of initial materials to be arranged, following certain rules, into a vast number of possible configurations” (Wardrip-Fruin 33). This idea applies to my tracery project because tracery uses the combinatory technique of using a small number of inputs to output large configurations of text. In Wardrip-Fruin’s “Five Elements of Digital Literature”, the author highlights famous works of electronic literature in history, and also describes his five elements of digital literature, which includes data, processes, interaction, surface, and context. Each of these plays a key role in making the program work (data and processes), the output (surface), and the relationship to the technology (the context). When comparing this work to Hamlet of the Holodeck, I can see that Wardrip-Fruin can add more about how the digital environment is encyclopedic because of the amount of information we can store in little bits of data.
Similar to the Wardrip-Fruin’s “Five Elements of Digital Literature”, Hamlet on the Holodeck explores five properties of digital environments. According to Janet Murray, digital environments are procedural, participatory, spatial, and encyclopedic. She cites various works of digital environments that support her properties. As this was only written in 1997, this article could be applied to several digital environments today using the same outlines, critiquing them using these knew digital environments. For example, one might point too the tracery projects to evaluate them on their digital environments. One, it is definitely procedural as the program goes from rule to rule. Two, you can sort of participate by generating new pieces based on the code. Three, any digital environment is spatial, and the degree to which you change the view of the project changes the visual space of the digital environment. The tracery project also meets the fourth requirement because of the fact that information can be stored in little bits of data in the tracery project. This piece of work applies to my own project for the reasons listed above. Also, according to Janet Murray, “compiling your code before running it is like writing a book and then hiring someone to translate it for your readers” (Murray 76). This statement relates to my project because in my tracery project, I compiled my code and then used tracery to translate it.
Funkhouser, Christopher. “First-Generation Poetry Generators: Establishing Foundations in Form.” Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of the Digital Arts. Berkeley: University of California Press. 243–263. Print.
Murray, Janer. “Beyond Multimedia.” Hamlet on the Holodeck. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1997. 65–94. Print.
Wardrip-Fruin, Noah. “Five Elements of Digital Literature.” Reading Moving Letters: Digital Literature in Research and Teaching. Media Upheavals 40, 2010. 29–57. Print.
Death of Eric Garner.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Sept. 2017. Web. 17 Sept. 2017 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Eric_Garner#Eric_Garner>.
“Death of Freddie Gray.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Sept. 2017. Web. 17 Sept. 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Freddie_Gray>.
“Shooting of Alton Sterling.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Sept. 2017. Web. 17 Sept. 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Alton_Sterling>.
“Shooting of Jordan Edwards.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Sept. 2017. Web. 17 Sept. 2017.
“Shooting of Michael Brown.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Sept. 2017. Web. 17 Sept. 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Michael_Brown>.
“Shooting of Tamir Rice.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Sept. 2017. Web. 17 Sept. 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Tamir_Rice>.
“Shooting of Walter Scott.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Sept. 2017. Web. 17 Sept. 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Walter_Scott>.
“Trayvon Martin.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Sept. 2017. Web. 17 Sept. 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trayvon_Martin>.
Yan, Holly. “‘Black Lives Matter’ Cases: When Controversial Killings Lead to Change.” CNN. Cable News Network, 04 May 2017. Web. 17 Sept. 2017. <http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/04/us/black-lives-matter-updates-may-2017/index.html>.