By Joseph Gunulfsen
“In the White Darkness” by Reiner Strasser and M.D. Coverly is an interactive piece consisting of different words, images and sounds that appear and reappear on the screen. There are about twenty dots that sort of throb like pulsating hearts. When each dot is manipulated, a certain sound, image, or phrase is triggered. It may be the sound of the jungle, or a picture of the desert. It may a picture of a canal accompanied by the phrase “déjà vu?” The visual and audio stimulations can coincide. There are also roughly 30 dots that do not throb like the others; they are just there, seemingly dead. There is a dot on the bottom, right corner of the screen that when clicked on offers a map of the throbbing dots, connecting one to another. Some of them are actually part of a chain of three, and all of the lines that connect the dots are arc shaped. There is also a dot on the bottom, left corner that when clicked on causes the phrase “Just a whisper, at least, of the persistence of this memory, this forgetfulness” to appear .
Strasser and Coverly invite the viewer to reflect on certain moments, periods of time, and memories of the past. With each sound, image or phrase the viewer is almost forced to think of something significant in his eyes. Perhaps for one the picture of the ocean reminds him of the time he lived in Florida and had a Spanish speaking girlfriend, a good time somewhat forgotten. Maybe for another individual, this haunting image invokes a painful memory of the time he lost his brother at sea. Each individual is taken to a certain pace in time. Maybe the beautiful beach is a place one man will take his family when he saves enough money. Maybe for him, time is running out.
I don’t feel that this piece is entirely provoking memory. Some may hear or see things they have never experienced. For me, the flute represents devotion and togetherness. I envision a man from a certain tribe playing a song that is played when an important, dedicated member of the tribe dies. Although I have heard the sound of a flute before, that particular song offered drives me to form an image in my mind about what that particular song may mean to someone else. Therefore, some viewers may not even think of their own memories or dreams. Instead they may think of other individuals whose lives hold a much deeper significance toward the sound or image offered.
Although the piece seemed more like a collection of sounds, phrases, and images than it did literature, I thought it was very strong. This a piece to which one can return frequently. The person may be seeking pleasure, an expansion of imagination, or even pain that’s been smothered for a long time. Regardless of what the viewer is seeking, it is possible that a new memory or thought will come to mind each time he views the piece. Maybe I will return to this piece in a few weeks or months, and maybe each time I regress I will be in search of something new.