Echo Chambers: The Colossal Cave within House of Leaves

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Inspired by Mark Z. Danielewki’s z House of Leaves (2000) and Will Crowther’s Colossal Cave Adventure (1975), It is Pitch Black renders a mysterious, non-visual environment in the form of a text-based videogame. Although Danielewski’s novel participates in the lusory logic of digital games, functions as a paradigmatic post-digital text, and includes a diverse range of media, the book contains no mention of videogames within its pages. It is Pitch Black imagines a missing appendix or additional chapter (like the four pages of hexadecimal code only included in the original hardcover publication) which takes the form of a text-based adventure game that the Navidson children may have played throughout their ordeal. Inspired by Crowther’s inaugural adventure game yet operating according to the idiom of a 3D navigable space, It is Pitch Black foregrounds the tension between the human experience of play and the microtemporal processes of a computer. Like the scrolling debug log, the speed of the text is directly proportional to the speed of the computer running the game and, as one plays, the text operates as an index or log of game states occurring along with each processor cycle. This usually hidden, nonhuman labor is juxtaposed against the labor and contributions of two other, often invisible figures--the historical Patricia Crowther and the fictional Karen Navidson. It is Pitch Black weaves together a speculative account of these women’s journey, punctuated by the footnotes of a ubiquitous “Will,” a conflation of the figure of Will Navidson with that of Will Crowther. The presentation will include a live performance of these two voices. As if in an echo chamber (or Zampano’s narcissistic architecture), these texts reveberate off one another when read as an electronic duet.

(Source: Author's Abstract)

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Daniela Ørvik