Egypt: The Book of Going Forth by Day

Description (in English): 

Egypt: The Book of Going Forth by Day is a contemporary/ancient narrative of death and rebirth on the Nile.  It is an account of Egypt that draws upon history, geography, hieroglyphics, legend and myth to tell a contemporary story of a woman searching for her brother that mirrors the eternal story of the ancient Egyptian spiritual journey.  It explores the interface between image and text - the ways, in hypermedia, that narrative information is not only contained in the text, but also coded into graphics, sound, structure, and navigational elements. Egypt celebrates the natural materiality of both hieroglyphic writing and electronic literature. Egyptian hieroglyphic writing is inherently hypertextual and hypermedial. In ancient times, the surfaces of temples, coffins, and tombs were covered with a narrative writing/art that was a complex linkage of the literal, metaphorical, and schematic aspects of the central spiritual ideas of the culture.

Artist’s Statement: 

Egypt: The Book of Going Forth by Day continued my experiments with hypermedia narrative that combined multi-voiced narration, historical and personal events, layered time frames, and topographical navigation. The piece is a construct of multilinear that represented the three states of the Egyptian death/soul - the Ba, the Ka, and the Akh. The stories they tell, both contemporary, ancient, and eternal use the visual language of hieroglyphics as an integral part of the plot and also as the navigation scheme.

Egypt was created in three different versions:

1997:  Toolbook Version, Toolbook 4
1999:  DHTML Web Version, Java and Flash

2002: Director's Version
2006:  Published as Artist's Book - Individualized CD-ROM and Thumb drives.

The final version, completed in 2006 was published as an Artist’s Book.  The First editions of Egypt (164 CD-ROMS and Thumb Drives) were individualized for each recipient with the reader’s own name written into a selected “spell” of the Book of the Dead for that artifact. The description offered:  

Egypt:  The Book of Going Forth by Day is available in individualized versions through 2006.  Each copy of the first edition is hand recorded and is unique:  your copy will have your own “Spell” to protect you in the Underworld/Tuat.  In ancient Egyptian practice, copies of the Book of the Dead were individualized for each recipient.  A person could order the exact spells he or she wanted, and the name [such as “the Osiris So-and-So”] was filled in accordingly.  Your “Spell” will appear on the verso of one of the Papyrus sections of the story.


Steeped in Egyptian history, mythology, religion and art, Coverley imagines a work in which words count as images and images as words, time has two complementary dimensions of linear progression and eternal return, inscriptions are not merely tokens for words but powerful sepells capable of deciding one's fate for eternity, and the individual subject merges into the archetypes of eternal gods and godesses. (Source: N. Katherine Hayles, "Deeper into the Machine: The Future of Electronic Literature", State of the Arts)

Technical notes: 

Director, Shockwave

Teaching Resource that references this work:

The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Scott Rettberg