With this brief piece, Strasser and Sonheim show us that the path to great multimedia poetry lies in simplicity. The way they’ve chosen to juxtapose the two short films and provide an interface that allows us to change their angle. Because the videos are of the view from a moving car, those positions can combine to change directions, produce a sense of openness, or drive towards a vanishing point. Its music, pacing, and brevity are evocative of the haiku, while the jagged graphic that rotates in the films suggest explosive violence. That combined with the year of publication (2004) and the use of the word Baghdad, makes for a powerful statement on the Iraq war.
“cursed be the god that brings so much death and beauty.”
This wistful poem dwells on that liminal space between night and day, life and death, joy and sorrow. The pace at which images and words appear and fade are also right on the edge of slow, encouraging meditation, and almost too fast to grasp upon a first reading. The images, smoothly blending from one to the next, all contain thresholds in the shape of fences, coasts, rivers, further reinforcing the borders between the worlds contemplated in this poem.
Sondheim provides the words, sounds, and images while Strasser composes the piece in Flash in a successful collaboration that demonstrates that the sum is greater than its parts.
This ethereal poem compels its readers to experience the evanescence of memory through a deceptively simple interface and navigational tools. The animations and sounds are displayed and fade at a paused pace to encourage reflection and allow time for the reader to forget where they clicked last, what they clicked, and where they were headed to next: much like the Alzheimer and Parkinson patients whose plight they seek to evoke. The mapped out sequences of dots reward those who follow them with sounds of nature, language, and gorgeous images— but the visual mappings fade after a few seconds, leaving the readers semi-lost when trying to reconstruct them.
This is a masterfully executed piece, using digital media tools with a delicate touch.