This episode in this poetic digital transmedia novel brings Alice to an England that is just as perilous as the other places she has lived in, but in a different way. Now 14 years old, Alice’s own actions, prompted by her friends, get her into trouble and she needs to get herself out of it, rather than depend on outside forces to help her. An intriguing aspect of this episode is its self-referentiality, showing flashbacks to Episodes 1 and 3, but more importantly through Alice’s program “iStories” which help her friends write their own stories by choosing photos and adding text and sounds to them. In a nutshell, this is the method to Inanimate Alice except the text isn’t just placed on the image statically, it is also kinetic in significant ways.
Notice how texts enter and leave the scene to emphasize what they are saying. For example, in the sequence titled “What Happened” there’s a moment when her friends run away, leaving the endangered Alice alone on the stairs for a short while before coming back.
The still image above shows how the text moves away from the scene, not out of the photograph, but behind the wall of the photograph. This shows the direction in which her friends leave, but reinforces a sense of place evoked by the photo by using its content and point of view. The few seconds in which the image is left without text, and the return of text from where it departed, this time with a different message, all enhance an important emotional moment for Alice in which she realizes that she is not alone, that she has friends that will stand by her in difficult situations.
The text of Inanimate Alice has many similar moments in which meaning is constructed from integrated uses of graphical, linguistic, and behavioral texts. Sometimes the use of kinetic and scheduled text underscores its linguistic content; sometimes it does more, as seen in the example cited above. And this is just one of the many strategies used in this remarkable poetic and e-poetic novel that merits all the attention it is getting. And more.