Creative Work
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Description (in English): 

Datafeeds is a short (21 node) exploration of a single incident in three universes (hearing, sight, and feeling). You can follow the story by clicking on the braid, the page numbers, or the connecting thoughts.


Artist's statement:

Hypertext/new media writing/electronic literature is first and foremost an exploration into possibilities. What if links can hold meaning—from emphasizing the "anchor" word or image (the place to click on the link) to coloring the destination? (Of course, many systems held out for multiple types of links—where we see a difference in causal, direct, conditional, etc links—and what would happen if artists and writers got their hands on those kinds of links?) What would happen if text could move—even to surround the reader’s body? (Caves and other holographic technologies make this possible.) What would happen if text and sound and images were inextricably bound together in an orgy of meaning? 

The possibilities are endless. One aspect of this multiverse of meaning fascinates me the most—structure. The structure is the meaning of the piece, and the meaning of the piece is inherent in its structure. (Of course, I could use this same formula for images, sounds, navigation, presentation, text, and words—and it would be equally as valid.) But I am spell bound by structure. I created a series of short poems based on the flow of the main word as a kanji, an ideogram. I saw how lines can fit together to form a coherent whole. I played with formalizing a range of potential combinatory structures in Firefly, which presents a poem in 6 stanzas of 5 lines each—where each line is actually 5 potential lines. The 180 lines add up to a similar astronomical figure as Raymond Queneau's Cent milles milliards de poèmes. 

"DataFeeds" takes my obsession with structure to a different level—what would happen if we examined the same incident from three different perspectives? A braided structure shows the linear progression in the three parts—each part of the braid covers one moment of the incident. The perspectives come from my background—I had corrective surgery for severe eyesight problems in the mid-90s. Thus I came into the sighted world too late to cope with the social niceties of recognizing faces, concentrating on eye contact, and not being distracted by patterns. I wanted to share my experiences to show how important our senses are in our social interactions. In a blind world, everyone is on the same footing, and the meeting goes well. In the sighted world, the narrator who is new to sight makes many errors (I've made all these and more). And in the heartbeat world, the narrator who is new to sensing heartbeats makes all the errors that any of you would make if you were transported to that world and given the ability to sense heartbeats. 

Only in these brave new media can we explore these ideas—and so much more. Each person’s work is different—and each person creates an entirely new genre or perspective or way of writing with each new work. I'm thrilled to be a part of this grand exploration.

(Source: 2008 ELO Media Arts show)

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Scott Rettberg