Tag Archives: Strings

Pulling Strings To Say It Right

What happens when you can not only construct a visual of meaning in your minds eye, but the words play out the dynamic essence of the words they describe right in front of your eyes? What you get is Dan Waber’s piece “Strings”, a compelling poetic work that represents the different characteristics of the various exchanges inherent to human life, and to literary connection with the depiction of a string forming and reforming words, moving them, and making them interact with each other, as we would in our daily and textual relationships.
With every slide, each representing a certain theme, we are shown both a linguistic and motional display of the thoughts being played out; from the “yes/no” tug of war of the string showing the nature of argument, to the indecisive and teasing floating of yeses, nos and maybes, tentatively and shyly interacting on the screen, to the poetic and romantic display of the words “your arms around me”, by implementing the rotation of the string in a circle to convey the connection and intimacy that one feels in a romantic relationship
Dan Waber’s portrayal of these living words, listing and acting the different engaging connections we partake in and exhibit not only helps us connect to the ideas and emotions revealed through use of a winsome choreography of text, but also makes us connect to the writer himself in the mimicking of a writers hand by illustrating the word creation in handwriting, both conveying the writer’s personal imprint of the piece, and the journey with Waber as his hand moulds the “string” into the particular words he deems perfect for the illustration of the thoughts he wants to share with the reader.
“Strings” is a titillating experience for the reader, engaging him in an insight to the dynamism and effectively charming way words can demonstrate and reveal the various everyday relationships that take place between combatants, friends, lovers, and even the ethereal connection between reader and author. While the genre of electronic literature and poetry may seem intimidating to traditional and conventional reader, “Strings” is a appealing and refreshing introduction to this new and growing medium.

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A Tug at the Heart Strings…

By Megan Finnerty

Due to the dramatic increase of type in recent decades, the art of the handwritten word is one that is fading quickly in published pieces. While published handwritten pieces are difficult to come by in the world of print, they are even more rare in the realm of electronic literature. Dan Waber uses Flash, a popular program to create interactive visual elements, for his online pieces. In “Strings”, Waber’s use of this program provides his viewers with a new spin on handwriting with the manipulation of a single black ‘string’. “Strings” allows us to briefly reminisce about this elegant art that is often taken for granted, giving it a new personal twist within a completely new platform, while also depicting some of the common elements found within a relationship.

Like many pieces of electronic literature, ‘Strings’, allows us to embrace the shape, form and flow of the work, despite it being an exceptionally simple piece with minimal content. I was really intrigued by how my attitude as a viewer changed as I progressed throughout the elements in this short piece. As I clicked my way through Waber’s work, I greatly enjoyed that the actions of each one, as they are given anthropomorphic qualities relating to the words that they spell out: in a sense, it felt enchanting.

In this piece, I find myself more fascinated with the text as visuals in motion rather than the text itself. The first two parts of this piece, “argument” and “argument2”, show a simple, back and forth struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no’; “argument2” particularly emphasizing on the often chaotic qualities of an argument itself, throwing in an overlying ‘maybe’.  “Flirt” and “flirt(cntd)”, like many of the others, do exactly as the word implies. The first “flirt” piece shows a very subtle, almost instantaneous shift between ‘no’ and ‘maybe’, while the second piece playfully teases the viewer with a ‘yes’, taunting the eye with a different sense of depth and motion on the screen. Both of these pieces demonstrate unique methods of flirting, and the motions portrayed mimic that of our own when in the act. The next piece, entitled “hahaha”, is also very endearing. Similar to “argument”, “hahaha” has a constant push-pull motion with a bit of a rhythmic pulsing, each push and pull gaining a ‘ha’ as if the laughter were increasing.  While “hahaha” demonstrates Waber’s lighthearted sense of humour, “youandme” and “arms”, are a bit more intimate. “Youandme” demonstrates the crazy, fast-paced emotional state of our own lives, and the focus of our attention amongst our own chaos. ‘Me’ is shown running rampant across the screen in a disorderly fashion, while ‘you’ is calm and easygoing, displayed mostly in the centre, as often we look to our significant others to keep us in a centred state of mind. “Arms” has a similar intimate charm as the string spells out ‘your arms’ and makes a circular shape to represent those arms; the black string embraces the white space.

The last piece featured within Waber’s “Strings” is entitled ‘poidog’. This piece uses the black string to spell out a very significant phrase, which I believe sums up the point that this piece as a whole is trying to make; “Words are like strings that I pull out of my mouth”. Waber has taken those ‘strings’ and illustrated for us a transformation of writing, using a multimedia platform. This piece in its entirety is unique, endearing, and thought provoking in a truly simplistic fashion, making it a wonderful introduction to the world of electronic literature.

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Review of Strings By Dan Waber

                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.

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