“Gabriella infinita” by Jaime Alejandro Rodríguez

Open "Gabriella infinita" by Jaime Alejandro Rodríguez
Open “Gabriella infinita” by Jaime Alejandro Rodríguez

Gabriella infinita (1999–) is a hypermedia narrative by Colombian author Jaime Alejandro Rodríguez. The narrative is presented via a rich array of lexia, images, and audio files, and we are not provided with established markers such a contents list or page numbers which would normally guide the reader through the conventional print novel. Instead, links to the various lexia and sound files are hidden in the visuals, and it is only through exploring the interface and testing out possible entry routes that the reader/user pieces together the narrative.

A Lecturer at the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Rodríguez is well-known for his theorisations on digital narrative and hypertext (see his bibliography). He is also arguably the leading hypertext author in Colombia and his Gabriella infinita, as well as his later Golpe de gracia (2006), have won him a series of awards and nominations, and put him at the forefront of e-lit in Colombia.

"Gabriella infinita" opening image
“Gabriella infinita” opening image

The plot of Gabriella infinita is clearly set in Colombia’s capital, Bogota, with references to immediately identifiable places within the city in several of the lexia. Similarly, the opening image which the reader sees before entering the narrative displays the landmarks of the Monserrate hill, and the Cerro de Guadalupe with its famous statue of La Virgen de Guadalupe appear behind the sky-scrapers of the Centro Internacional. Yet this is a futuristic and dystopian Bogotá, in which the cityscape is in a state of devastation and destruction.

Set in this identifiably Bogotano backdrop is the story of Gabriella, who searches for the missing Federico, and we follow her through the various lexia, images, and audio files as she attempts to piece together clues as to his disappearance.

Yet, more than just her story, what Rodríguez weaves for us is the story of our own encounter with hypermedia narrative. Gabriella’s sensations and experience, as she searches for Federico and tries to make sense of the scraps of evidence that she finds, stand for the experience of the reader of hypertext narratives. For instance, Gabriella’s perusal of Federico’s bookshelves as she attempts to make an order out of the apparent disorder in which the books are arranged is a clear metaphor for the work of the reader of hypertext narrative, constructing an order from the dispersed lexia. Or her examining of the loose sheets of newspaper strewn on the floor of Federico’s apartment, and finding that “al ordenarlas, le han revelado relaciones insospechadas” [‘when she put them together, they revealed unexpected connections to her’] is, again, an image of the reader of hypertext fiction creating his/her own order from the dispersed links, with the primacy on the reader, not the writer, to establish these ‘unexpected connections’.

But does Gabriella ever succeed in her quest? And do we, as reader-users of hypertext fiction, ever gain full control of the narrative we are navigating?

“Tierra de Extracción” by Doménico Chiappe

Open "Tierra de Extracción" by Doménico Chiappe
Open “Tierra de Extracción” by Doménico Chiappe

In Tierra de Extracción (1996-2007) (ELC2), Doménico Chiappe’s first hypermedial novel, the extraction of meaning is generated via interaction and manipulation. Poetry is hidden in the fissures of the earth that slip in order to create motion in the different multimedia layers of the work. The novel is composed of 63 hypermedial chapters, each of them represented by an interactive [key] word. Similar to Hotel Minotauro (2013-2014), Tierra de Extracción is an example of interactive narrative. For instance, in one of the chapters (Mangal/Mango Tree), the reader is invited to learn how to roll a dice interactively in order to unfold the stories that lie behind each of its faces. The interaction with the dice produces an empty mise-en- scène to be fulfilled by aesthetic chance. Rolling the dice becomes the space where chance meets creation.

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“Hotel Minotauro” by Doménico Chiappe

Open “Hotel Minotauro” by Doménico Chiappe – Version: Spanish | English

Doménico Chiappe, a Peruvian-Venezuelan writer and a journalist currently living in Madrid, has written and produced two delightful works of electronic literature: Tierra de extracción (1996-2007) and Hotel Minotauro (2013-2014). His works depict a critical and pleasant voyage to diverse Latin-American landscapes where poetry within prose, and prose within poetry, submerge the reader into hypermedial embedded narratives.

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Roda Lume by E. M. de Melo e Castro

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Open “Roda Lume” by E. M. de Melo e Castro

E. M. de Melo e Castro has written poetry in different physical media – in the same way as “peso pesado do átomo” [atom’s heavy weight] (Castro 2006) – such as paper, textiles, canvas, wood, metal, stone, plastic, early opting for a dematerialization of word and image, something that became apparent, from the outset, in the pioneering videopoem Roda Lume [Wheel of Fire] (1968). This dematerialization of the artwork was taken as a guideline for the retrospective exhibition “O Caminho do Leve” [The Way to Lightness] (2006) at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, in Porto. Melo e Castro states:

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“Word Crimes” by Weird “Al” Yankovic and Jarrett Heather

"Word Crimes" by Weird "Al" Yankovic
Open “Word Crimes” by “Weird Al” Yankovic and Jarrett Heather

“Word Crimes”  is an official music video designed and animated by Jarrett Heather for “Weird Al” Yankovic.  The video uses kinetic typography and evocative visual images to reinforce the didactic tone.  The song is a parody of Robin Thicke’s own “Blurred Lines” employing its catchy tune, lyric structure, and even typography (as in the case of the hashtags) repurposed tosatirizes common ways that language is used incorrectly in writing.

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“Bust Down the Doors!” by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries

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Open “Bust Down the Doors! by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries. Versions: English, German, French

“Bust Down the Doors!”, a videopoem by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, opens with a countdown, preparing the reader to the challenge he or she is about to encounter. Quick flashing words that compose the poem begin to blink in and out of the screen, daring the reader to catch each word properly and keep up to rhythm. The contrast of the black letters against a white background creates an almost hypnotizing pattern to this race. This format is repeated in all three different language versions, which are English, German, and French.

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”Debaser” by Pixies

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 6.39.06 PM
Open “Debaser” video by Pixies

Pixies is an alternative rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, originally formed in 1986. The band started releasing music videos after their second studio album Doolittle in 1989, but ‘’Debaser,” the first track of this album, wasn’t released as a single until 1997. This is the only one of their videos, to date, to feature kinetic typography.

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“Endless Reader” by Originator

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Open the “Endless Reader” page.

“Endless Reader” is a children’s mobile application created by Originator, which has developed other recognized apps such as “Endless Numbers” and “Endless Alphabet.” This application is the follow-up to “Endless Alphabet,” integrating sight words with an interactive digital environment with the purpose of allowing children to hear words broken down to their simplest phonetic segments.

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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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“#SELFIE-LYRICS” by The Chainsmokers and Coralee

Screen capture from "#SELFIE-LYRICS" by Coralee and The Chainsmokers. Image of a youtube video displaying large white text against a black background. Text: "ratchet"
Open “#SELFIE-LYRICS” by Coralee and The Chainsmokers (video embedded below)

After the release of the viral EDM hit “#SELFIE”, internet commenters were swift and brutal in their typically over-dramatic detraction of the song, citing it as yet another argument for “the death of music” due to it’s purportedly vapid, idiotic lyrics and “cookie-cutter” beats. In spite of this, the single topped several worldwide dance charts and the official music video stands at 90 million views at the time of writing. After its meteoric rise, YouTube user Coralee created a minimalist video which displayed the lyrics in perfect synchronization with the song itself, one word at a time. While the concept itself is hardly novel–  lyric videos on YouTube are extremely common– the execution is a stimulating piece of kinetic typography which offers a charming microcosm of the nexus between Generation Y(.O.L.O.)’s party culture and the proliferation of social networking.

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