Chemical Landscapes Digital Tales: Review

Chemical Landscape, a tale of toxic waste being brought upon the land due to pollution or the likes? Or is it about the impact a growing city has on the landscape? Those were the first thoughts that entered my mind but that was certainly not the case. Chemical Landscape is a piece of work resulted from Edward Falco and his partnership with Mary Pinto and Will Stauffer-Norris. A series of photos that suggests landscapes but are entirely made by shining a flashlight on particular chemicals in a dark room. It has eight poems, which can be seen by clicking various spots on the opening page. Each tale is coordinated with the landscape and is set up in a way that makes the text disappear before there is a chance to even finish it. This is intentional as stated by Falco because it forces the reader to have to concentrate on different words each time they read it which results in numerous readings of just one tale. The way this digital tale was made allowed the reader to break away from the tradition way of reading text. It was about having the freedom of choosing your own starting line and ending. And it is because of this that the tales can be experienced differently each time it is read as the reader’s eyes jump from word to word when trying to read the poem. Though it has achieved Falco’s goal of being a field where we can choose the direction in which the tale can be read from, it soon becomes a maze in which the reader can get lost in when the context of the tale is always being eluded from the reader each time. Though the tales are absorbing, it has the tendency to be annoying after awhile because the piece can never be read all at once. And even after having gone through each of the poems plenty of times and gotten the idea of what the context is about, it is still not the same as reading the piece as a whole and fully understanding it. Besides that, Falco has successfully presented the breaking away from the classical structure in which normal stories should be read with a beginning, middle, and end. And as we get further into the piece and after numerous readings, the visual harmony between the landscape and the text makes the reader appreciate the relationship between the two. This gentle landscape façade of pleasantness belies the strong presence of environmental issues and it is because of this contrast that makes Chemical Landscape a surprising and striking piece.

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