“Deal With It” Meme by Matt Furie and You

Deal-With-It-Skateboarding-Cat-Gif“Deal with it” is a meme based on a popular phrase or expression that uses image macros and/or animated GIFs as a snarky response when someone else notes disapproval, most frequently used online forums or social networks. This meme is characterized by an image of an iconic person, celebrity, or event, accompanied by the descending of sunglasses upon the subject’s face and revealing a caption which says “Deal with it.”

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Slenderman, The Marble Hornets, and Totheark

slenderman-1-708110Remember those chain emails your most obscure contacts would send you during the wee hours of the night that read something like “IF U DON’T FWD DIS A CREEPY CRAWLY GHOST OF A GIRL WILL COME OUT OF DA CLOSET AND KILL U” ?

Well they’re back. And they’re coming to get you for not forwarding all those emails.

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iPoe: Effecting the Text

iPoe by Play Creatividad
iPoe by Play Creatividad

The Play Creatividad Editions are more than illustrated editions of Edgar Allan Poe’s texts. The reader can interact with the illustrations to discover what lies beneath (and, Poe being Poe, what lies beneath is generally a nasty surprise). The tales have been supplied with sound and music. But not with the kind of music that one would expect of a repetitive video game: each text has its own piece with a mood and rhythm that complements it perfectly. It is a labor that requires ideas, but also talent and love.

If we take “The Oval Portrait,” for example, the music is sweet and haunting, ultimately sad. The opening of the story, which describes the “chateau” in which the narrator will discover the oval portrait, is set over a grey scene on the background of which is the mansion, illuminated by the moon and surrounded by grey pine trees. In many of the illustrations, the movement of the device causes them to shift their angle. When we least expect it, the howl of the wolf merges with the melody.

The opening of "The Oval Portrait" in iPoe
The opening of “The Oval Portrait” in iPoe

As we advance in the tale, we discover that some of the phrases of the story are emphasized by using a darker and larger font. Eventually, the candlelight, allows us to illuminate the oval portrait, just after the narrator has discovered it.

The degree to which “The Oval Portrait” achieves the merging of the interactive features and multimedia elements with the original text  goes beyond what the reader would expect. In a print edition, for example, we read:

And then the brush was given, and then the tint was placed; and, for one moment, the painter stood entranced before the work which he had wrought; but in the next, while he yet gazed, he grew tremulous and very pallid, and aghast, and crying with a loud voice: ‘This is indeed Life itself!’ turned suddenly to regard his beloved:- She was dead!

This could be modified with clever design, but in iPoe, we have a story presented with skilled subtlety.  In one screen we have:

And then the brush was given, and then the tint was placed; and, for one moment, the painter stood entranced before the work which he had wrought; but in the next, while he yet gazed, he grew tremulous and very pallid, and aghast, and crying with a loud voice:

"The Oval Portrait" in iPad
“The Oval Portrait” in iPad

The typography of the last phrases bold and increasing in size (in the iPhone version, the iPad has the same size through that paragraph, as it can be seen in the image above) perhaps referring to the state of excitement exhibited by the character.  In the next page we have the portrait, covering blurry letters.

The portrait in "The Oval Portrait," photographed in an iPad.
The portrait in “The Oval Portrait,” photographed in an iPad.

The reader is forced to move the portrait out of place to discover the dead woman and the text above the corpse: “‘This is indeed Life itself!’ turned suddenly to regard his beloved:- She was dead!”

The end of "The Oval Portrait" in iPoe, photographed in an iPad.
The end of “The Oval Portrait” in iPoe, photographed in an iPad.

The wonder is of iPoe’s “The Oval Portrait” is that it can enhance the reader’s experience. This is not just Poe’s text in a new edition, it is Poe for the 21st century reader. I, for one, will never teach Poe from print again.

“sc4da1 in new media” by Stuart Moulthrop

titleImagesc4da1 in new media“, a Flash poem/rage-game by Stuart Moulthrop, is as outrageous as it is delightful. The piece is composed of two alternating interfaces: a rage-game remediation of Pong; and a transient text. Every time you beat a level of the remediated Pong, you access a new installment of the transient text. There are six levels to the remediated Pong. The perversity of this rage-game version of Pong makes Chiku’s “Syobon Action” (“Cat Mario”) a piece of cake in comparison. I almost broke a vocal cord when I made it to level 6.

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Born-Again Digital: iPoe

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iPoe on iOS and Android

In the next few weeks, a series of entries will appear here that will concern themselves with the notion of a digital rebirth, a sort of digital reincarnation of printed texts. These entries will not refer to merely digitized versions of classic texts. Instead, they will highlight digital publications that present printed texts in a completely new light and that share with born-digital literature the need to be read in specialized devices.

In March last year, my attention was caught by iPoe, an edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories specifically designed for mobile devices.  In turn, this sparked my interest in other similar publications and my involvement in the CantApp, an edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales conceived for reading in mobile phones and tablets which will be published this year.  This reimagining of classical texts for modern multimedia devices is what I refer to as born-again digital literature.

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“Automatype” by Daniel C. Howe

Automatype
“Automatype” by Daniel Howe

Daniel Howe offers various possibilities for describing Automatype, as “either ambient text art, a weird game of solitaire for the computer, or an absorbing ongoing puzzle for a human viewer.” The installation has nine screens with one word each. The piece uses the RiTa Toolkit , which was specifically developed for the creation of language experiments and generative literature.
Each of the words “evolves” by changing one letter at the time, much like the Word Morph game, but they all work independently of one another.

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“There Are Many Detours Between Information And Instruction” by Joe Milazzo

Screen capture from "There Are Many Detours Between Information And Instruction" by Joe Milazzo. Grey, blue, baby blue, orange and beige pixelated background with a textbox with 4 lines written in it. Text: "Languid / days / are over. / I suppose."
Open “There Are Many Detours Between Information And Instruction” by Joe Milazzo

This poem may seem like a simple slideshow that combines text and images but it is built with born-digital materials that have little to do with print culture. The background images are taken from sprites—graphical objects that form part of a program visual design and contain programmed behaviors. Both in its choice of sprites and fonts, the work favors an 8 and 16 bit videogame aesthetic, evidenced by its pixellation and bold fonts. And even though by turning these materials into images, their programmed behaviors are stripped, they retain cultural impact, particularly for those familiar with their provenance. One doesn’t have to be videogame aficionado to appreciate their aesthetics, since a few decades of exposure to these videogame graphics has caused some cultural burn-in, to the point that they’ve become part of our visual and computational vocabulary.

As you read the poem in all its retro glory, consider how the speaker’s nostalgic language resonates with the materials it was written with.

ELMCIP logo with text: "Read more about this work at ELMCIP."

“In a World Without Electricity” by Alan Bigelow

“How They Brought the News from Paradise” by Alan Bigelow

Screen capture from "How They Brought the News from Paradise" by Alan Bigelow. A dark, stormy night on the open sea where the ships are being violently rocked by the waves, and palm trees and hills can be seen in the far distance. Text: "A skull and crossbones fluttered / over a long, wooden plank / - the bar - / with its beer taps, shot glasses / and alcoholic ballast."
Open “How They Brought the News from Paradise” by Alan Bigelow

This narrative poem tells the mock-heroic adventures of an unlikely antihero on an imaginary quest. As Bigelow describes the piece,

In “How They Brought the News from Paradise to Paterson,” a first-person speaker narrates his story (in heroic verse) as he swims from one end of a resort pool complex to another in search of what he thinks is more alcohol, but is in fact a journey to find his marriage
and himself. The poem plays with the epic and tragic within a setting stifled with consumerism and class separation.

The poem is structured as the monomyth, in which the speaker, while lounging at the Paradise pool bar in a 5-star resort in Barbados, overhears what he interprets as a call to adventure: the bar has run out of rum. Taking upon himself to embark upon a journey through the pool complex to find the god-like Concierge at the far end, whose “sage advice / and quick, imperious commands” would restore the flow of rum in Paradise.

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