As a little kid, Adobe Flash Player could have been one software that I had to download the most. While surfing in the internet finding new games in website like Miniclip.com, the Flash Player would either break or require an update before running the game. Just like most of the kids at the time, I saw the Flash Player as a tool for playing games, but after my encounter with “Dakota” and reading “Kinetic and Interactive Poetry,” my perception of the Flash Player has completely changed.
The internet has allowed us to discover new ways for us to express our feelings through new forms of media, and not surprisingly, as the internet evolved, authors and poets explored conventional techniques to convey their ideas. For instance, the early hypertext authors utilized features such as web page linking to immerse the reader in an interactive story. With the arrival of the Flash Player, authors have shifted how they look at producing online. In Flash, Salter and Murray explain that Flash producers “took the affordances of the platform and the expectations users brought to Flash works and subverted them, or broke out of the affordances and created new systems for their art.” In that sense, Flash authors followed the same pattern as the hypertext creators. They were fearless to use the affordances of the platform to try new things even though the experimentation might fail miserably.
To explore one of the first examples of Flash literary works, I viewed “Dakota”, created by two artists Young-Hae Chang and Marc Voge. Unlike the hypertext works that we explored earlier in the semester, the creators expected the users not to interact with, but to view the content. While words and short phrases are being thrown at me, I felt like I was watching an action movie and trying to catch up with what’s going on in the story line. In Electronic Literature, Rettberg claims that “the use of typographic effects is minimal and controlled, but the pace at which the words are displayed is often very rapid, pushing at the limits of how quickly we can read and absorb the meaning of the words.” Although the idea to direct one’s attention to a couple of words for a couple of second was interesting, I found it quite challenging to understand whether the words being shown make sense. I could see the artist’s intention to challenge in what speeds we could absorb the content being shown at us. It could have been that Chang and Voge were criticizing the pace of information being thrown at us in the information age, but I would have appreciated if the producers included a slide button that would have allowed me to speed the narrative down.
Yet I wasn’t a big fan of “Dakota”, I need to highlight that it made me look at the Flash Player in the ways I haven’t considered before. For me, Flash was just a tool for eye candy and games, but now I also consider it as a medium for kinetic poetry.