Response to Chapter Three
Beyond the book: a text and narrative environment, examined in Digital Art by Christine Paul, is a fascinating concept. As an avid reader I am amazed at the many possibilities of the written word, how text can be a physical art form as well as a communication device that may convey different interpretations to a reader. The written word may be experienced visually, viscerally, as well as intellectually.
Words have historically been written in a sequential linear form, word following word, line following line, and page following page, with a beginning and an ending point. Hypertext allows the reader to interact and change the structure and content of the text, thereby giving it a new and altered meaning for individual interpretation.
A couple of concerns about hypertext comes to mind, one being that of copyright laws and how one enforces them in a constantly changing environment alterable by many different viewers; the laws may need to be adjusted for these new forms of text. One must consider the preservation of history if hypertext replaces the written word, for hypertext is fluid and changeable, words stored in cyberspace may never be able to be retrieved in the original form they were written, which may affect permanence of historical documentation. It is difficult to predict what impact hypertext may have on the recording of history and the written page.
Of course this impermanence allows for some very innovative artistic creations. The work by artists David Small and Tom White entitled Stream of Consciousness/Interactive Poetic Garden dated 1998 is a good example of using hypertext as a tool for creating visually and viscerally stimulating work. It is based on the early 20th century idea of “stream of consciousness” writing made popular by Virginia Wolf and James Joyce (194). Words flow freely from their mind onto the paper without attachment to their conscious, often times the work may seem disconnected and nonsensical. The interactive poetic garden reflects this idea of arbitrary words freely flowing; strings of written words literally flow and move as they are projected onto a pool of water contained in a small square Zen like garden. Words can be moved and changed with the participant’s hand; they flow into the drain and pump back into the pool again for a new order and meaning. The letters and words are in constant flux as it flows and reconfigures according to the actions of the participant’s hands (193). This garden can have a meditative, calming affect upon the participant/viewer, which may unleash attachment to conscious thought likened to the “stream of consciousness” of literary modernism.
In conclusion I believe that hypertext has many wonderful avenues for the arts, as well as providing a plethora of information previously unattainable for people world wide, but at the same time I have concerns regarding the loss of traditional written words on pap