I have always believed that the time will come when print literature and electronic literature are equally written, read, and supported. Ebooks differ from electronic literature in that they do not utilize the computer-media platform to invite readers to explore the potential of computer-media narrative that allows exploratory interactive reading. My vision for “an enigmatic work of art in book form”
#UploadELO2022: Electronic Narratives of Hybridity was to create a work of electronic literature that readers now accustomed to ebook reading would be comfortable reading — and in the process to introduce electronic literature to a wider public.
Although contemporary fiction writers and readers are comfortable moving back and forth between different but related parts of the narrative, the basic ebook interface is print-based sequential page turning. My vision for “enigmatic” was to create a multi-linear narrative and in the process to give the reader more control of what part of the narrative to follow. Thus, creating a bridge between electronic literature and print writing, “an enigmatic work of art in book form” contains two related narratives — one in the top segment of the screen and one in the bottom segment of the screen. Each segment advances at the will of the reader.
From “its name was Penelope” to “Arriving Simultaneously on Multiple Far-Flung Systems”, female protagonists have been at the core of my works of hyperfiction, generative hyperfiction, polyphonic narrative structures, and interactive electronic manuscripts. Set in 1986 in the Northern California Bay Area and inspired by the importance of teaching in the exploratory arts, “an enigmatic work of art in book form” introduces Caydance Skye O’Brien, an art school-based adjunct professor, who teaches the lineage and creation of artists books.
Because I am also interested in the role of both the arts and sports in contemporary culture, the second protagonist, Griff McGuire, is a former NFL wide receiver, who is currently a graduate assistant coach at a San Francisco Bay Area University. As Caydance and Griff slowly build a relationship, at the core of “an enigmatic work of art in book form” are two cultures that are sometimes linked together as entertainment — although from the point of view of both dedicated athletes and dedicated artists, “entertainment” is seldom the word of choice.
Utilizing interactive affordances that should be possible in ebooks, “enigmatic” explores potential bridges between electronic literature and print writing, and in the process an enchanting narrative unfolds. Addressing this year’s ELO Conference theme of education, this work also focuses on art school teaching of the exploratory arts.
About the Author(s):
United States School of the Art Institute of Chicago
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