Review by Carly McDiarmid
Dan Waber and Jason Pimble’s Electronic Literature piece is a 3D Java collage of different sized texts of different colors. This poem is a part of Harvard University’s Dudley House in spring 2005, in the Infinity exhibit; the Infinity exhibit was an exhibition of visual poetry and artwork built from/ on/ and around letters and words. Waber and Pimble describe this poem as an “infinite cube that can be rotated endlessly without returning to the same view.” The piece utilizes three colors: green, blue and red.
The words you (Blue), and we (light green), are spread across the readers gaze. A singular word “I”, which is red, is centered at the bottom of the screen. Flowing throughout these 3 words are many different dark green words; the authors express these words as “a river of verbs.” This text is a pleasant and readable piece. Whether one is searching for the deeper meaning of the poem, or just playing around with the flow, this piece is quite enjoyable. But, what is the purpose of this poem?
Strings is a Flash piece of literature by Dan Waber; Strings was published in 1999 and it includes eight separate moving pieces of black string across a white screen. Dan Waber developed this piece to resemble relationships; he explores the relationship between words, movement, handwriting and human experiences. The separate parts of his piece are involved with ideas of argument, flirting, and laughter.
I clicked on the first link titled “Argument,” here I saw a piece of string tugging left and right, spelling the words yes and no. I liked this idea of tension between the two words. The actual movement from the formation of yes to know represented an actual physical pulling back and forth. This movement mirrors the argumentative relationship between the words yes and no. “Argument 2,” dealt with the same notion of the struggle but it added in a medium of maybe. There was no shifting between the words, just the words appearing in different order on the screen. The addition of the word maybe, brought a less tense tone to the piece.
The second idea Waber plays with in his flash presentation is flirting. The image of a handwritten word that I cannot decipher, tucks in and out of view across the screen. By doing this, Waber is teasing us; I found myself waiting impatiently for the handwriting to be clearer and to fully present itself but it never does. Therefore, Waber successfully captures the idea of flirting in this portion of Strings.
Laughter is the third idea in Waber’s piece. The handwritten laughter “ha-ha” sways from left to right and continuously grows. With each shift, the laughter becomes longer. This mirrors the idea of real life laughter; laughing usually starts out small and grows as things become funnier.
Strings is a interesting flash piece of literature that plays with notions of human behaviors and handwriting. It intertwines simple concepts of motion and handwriting to portray these actions. Strings is unique in the fact that such a simple idea can become very complex and intriguing. It’s almost as if he gives life to an inanimate object. I would be interested in seeing more works like this.