Review #3

Poiesis as referred to in the ELC1 is a term used to describe the continual construction of the electronic environment by its creators and receivers. Two additional works that I have chosen for discussion include: ‘Cruising’ by Ingrid Ankerson and Megan Sapnar, and ‘Girls’ Day Out’ by Kerry Lawrynovicz. These works serve as forms of electronic poetry that use poietic strategies to reveal their various meanings.

          ‘Cruising’ is the first piece in the collection that caught my eye. About a coming-of-age ritual set in small town Wisconsin, ‘Cruising’ is a flash poem that incorporates a teenager’s oral recitation of a favorite pastime set to a linear stream of text and visuals that the reader learns to ‘drive,’ with limited agency. The flow of text runs above a filmic stream of black and white photographic images of scenery from a car which flash by in different speeds when you mouse over the frames. The sound recording merges with the imagery and the text when the reader ‘drives’ the film, or learns how to operate its speed and synchronicity. This takes some time to do. I was immediately drawn to its quicktime movie-like structure and graphics, but was somewhat disappointed in the brief length of the narration. The subject and concept was attention-grabbing though, and it reminded me of highschool. The only thing difficult about it was that the words were almost impossible to make out because they flashed by faster than the eye could catch, so I got nearly the entire story, but not all of it.

          ‘Girls’ Day Out’ is the second piece which at first glance looked to me like it would be about shopping or some other typical outing till I saw the picture of a mare in a field. Till then I had no idea as to what it would possibly be about. It turns out to be a piece in flash about two girls on an ordinary equestrian trip that slowly disintegrates to reveal a gruesome murder story as each screen of text sequentially changes into the next. The interface of ‘Girls’ Day Out’ is fairly simple – a three-part image map labeled Poem, Author’s Note and Shards. Poem is a day-long itinerary that takes the reader through the author’s horseback journey out in the fields. The pages fade to reveal stand-alone words that reveal a more ominous meaning each time they are clicked upon. Shards does the same thing and mimics skimming the newspaper for clues into an investigation. In this section the words and letters decompose and rearrange themselves across the page to reveal yet more evidence to the unsolved mystery. The reader is left with an uneasy feeling gathered from the incomplete information, each step more foreboding than the next. The last section, Author’s Note scrolls down to describe how the story was a real-life account, which makes the impact of the piece even more visceral. I thought it was interesting how the reader was put into the shoes of the detective, searching out signs to the Calder Road murders. I also liked the evolutionary effect of the piece, and the way it incorporated the element of the unexpected.

          None of these examples could have been effectively engaged if not for the process of Poiesis. In the poietic process, constant interaction between creator, reader and electronic piece allowed us to actively define the multiple meanings inherent in the developments of each piece. As a result, without interpreting and navigating through the flash and image map components in cooperation with the text, we would make no sense of these two pieces and what they mean to convey.

Agnes Lee

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