Chapter 1

1.0 Introduction

In 1961 Digital Equipment Corporation's new model, the PDP-1 minicomputer, arrived at MIT's electrical engineering department in the hope that the students would be able to use the technology to come up with something interesting [1]. Their work resulted in two developments. It was the genesis of the digital gaming culture. Also, it resulted in the non-academic use of a linked network of early computers which, combined with a late 1970's by-product of the ARPANET (US Department of Defence's Cold War project to create an nuclear war-proof communications network) saw the birth of a much more recognisable network: the Internet. Four decades later the primitive blips and whirs of such machines have been replaced by the smooth dulcet tones and the alluring curves of the eMac circa 2003; ultra fast and lightweight Sony laptops; a plethora of mobile technologies. The website address (u (niform) r (esource) l (ocator)) and the art of the videogame have become integral parts of our cultural psyche, which compete for our custom and daily attention. Interestingly however, neither videogames nor the Internet and its native practices have ever been regarded as intelligent or particularly sophisticated creative pastimes, that is, until very recently. The majority of Internet traffic is taken up by email, the other standardised uses are booking flights, hunting down bargains, searching out incredulous news or our old classmates [2].
 

Technologies unearthed decades ago are still finding utterly new uses. Ever-expanding worlds of imaginative creators adapt them to their own needs. In the early days, these blooming communities centred on software technologies: IRC / MUDS, ASCII, HTML, Flash [3], though conceptually, they communicated a multitude of different concerns. Perhaps more importantly, both the artists and their audiences have taken advantage of the Internet's unique ability to unite people irrespective of geographical location through online forums, links, blogs [4] and email groups. These many cultures share a palpable attitude that is an extension of the avant-garde [5]. Practitioners are interested in the process of creating something new that is independent of established modes of expression. The Internet provided them with a virtual location that was ideal; it was uncharted, unmonitored, unmarketed, where artefacts could be distributed freely. Until very recently, it was not a commercial network. The Internet appears to be a polar opposite of the mass communication model, in that there is often a high degree of intimacy between the audience and the art. For example, participants can view it and use it both in their home and at work; this experience is in the main individualized and unlike elsewhere in media. Such relationships amongst creative peers and responsive audiences can border on the invisible: enclosed and intimate and rewarding. The Internet, in the relatively few years that have passed since its inception, has seen a huge amount of dichotomous development in that both the corporate presence and the development of small, niche and personal practices have significantly blossomed.

1.1 Introduction to the context
My field of interest is screen based and more specifically Internet based digital visual art. Within responsive works the participant uses primarily perceptual and explorative actions: looking, listening, selecting and then interpreting. These types of communication exchanges are unconventional because perceptual and interpretive functions are married with explorative interactions [6]. My interest is the investigation of these actions and their relationship to the seeing and understanding of the narrative artwork. I search out difference and confusion as a main method to entice the participant. The practice as submitted in the thesis utilises the multiple features of:
· hyperfiction theory's treatment of closure [7],
· post-modernist notions such as ambiguity and fragmentation [8],
· and a representational style that offsets these nonconformist agendas by interpretative accessibility in the directness of the visual communication [9].

I propose that these responsive multiple state systems offer new modes of exchange and new, unusual and participant led methods of reading. These systems can be conceptually difficult opposed to the "ease of use" that modern communication exchange continually aspires towards. A long-standing tradition dictates that the interface designer creates systems of clarity and coherence, to ultimately evoke rewarding generalised and intuitive responses from the participant. I propose to react against this insistence by subverting the practice of what is commonly called "interface design" [10]. Interface can then offer the artist a context and an illusionary two dimensional window by which to play with and challenge participant expectations, offering different kinds of responsive experiences unlike commonly found in commercial website and multimedia projects [11].

Literature Review
Contemporary Artwork Context Review
1.2 Purpose of study

"Storytelling is fundamental to society, culture, and communication. Narrative is the basic structure by which we share our ideas and experiences. As we begin to use the Internet to tell stories, the narratives we communicate will have the benefit of interactivity, programmatic behaviours, non-linearity, and physidigital space and multi-user environments -- aspects that traditional media has (sic) never truly understood." Josh Ulm [12].
The aim of the study is to explore the potential, purpose and effects of developing responsive and multiple state systems that refute the commercial Human Computer Interaction (HCI) [10] designated rules of interaction. The research shall challenge conventional methods of constructing meaning from image-based communication such as traditionally offered by the visual artist to the participant. I will clearly concentrate on developing participant responsive systems that utilise multiplicity of form and hybrid aesthetics. This is offered as an alternative to the growing hegemony of new media practice and new media aesthetics. I am interested in the interplay between representation of symbol, icon, cultural metaphors, semi-recognisable opposed to abstracted form and the participants' interactive enquiry.

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The final aim of the research is to offer a theory of what tropes, trademarks and opportunities (social value) this new form of narrative practice offers to participants
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The thesis argument is framed around both positioning and revealing a new form of practice -- the practice of responsive interstitial [13] pictorial based narratives. The argument is constructed through two research questions, which are answered by the practice; commentary texts (made up of practice documentation, self analysis, and analysis of context); as well as using the insights from invited expert participants.
1.3 A word about me
My position is that of a practitioner working with unconventional responsive pictorial narrative and Macromedia Flash. And as such, I have a particular perspective on the various established and emergent fields of practice as situated within the Internet -- that being someone who has always existed on the edges of the major Internet narrative cultures, e.g. populist Flash and literary hypertext fiction.
 
My first published responsive narrative was RedRidinghood . This project was posted onto the Internet in December 2000. Since then it has been regarded by many as a seminal digital narrative. It has been much used as a curriculum text within the blossoming fields of digital media and hypertext fiction studies [14]. Over the last four years, during which the research has been conducted, I have further investigated the interplay between narrative, image and interaction, developing my practice in search of a compelling and new narrative form. This has resulted in a preparatory project as sketch -- Angel Interceptor ; and two significant projects -- The Bloody Chamber and Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw . These four years were charged by change: firstly the "end of books" debate [15], the digital utopia mindset [16], the resurgence of textual poetics [17], the perceived death or failing of hypertext fiction [18], the rise of Flash art [19], the appearance of new mobile and networked technologies [20], the ascendancy of ludology [21]and finally the publication of the first new media reader anthology [22].
 

In the act of demarcating this thesis, I have uncovered more of what I am not than what I am. For example I am not a hyperfiction theorist, nor a visual narratologist, nor a games designer. I believe my position is best described as a critical practitioner. For example I use the practice as the significant research method. This is unlike the majority of associated research in my field of study . Such research mainly uses various forms of literary and critical theory to search out new interpretations and structural understanding of the artefacts in question and is not engaged in the practice of producing the work. My practice sits between the main research domains and as such, I can be called an interstitial artist [13]. As a practitioner, my main concern is in the production of a certain kind of digital artefacts. These create specific types of digital and participatory experiences in which the research argument can found. I have discovered that to adequately describe both what my practice does and what issues it addresses I have had to create some new terms. These will aid in the discussion of my artworks in relation to the stated context.

Literature Review
Contemporary Artwork Context Review
1.4 The research questions:
This thesis will address the following questions:

A

Which aesthetic techniques can the artist develop within responsive multiple-state systems when they structurally secede from interaction mechanisms learnt within the context of traditional and new media narrative forms?
B How does the artist develop an interactive style and visual vocabulary, which evokes rich [23] responses from the participants whilst challenging them to counter conventional interaction tropes?

 

Question A
When enquiring into the creation of and phenomena surrounding narrative multiple state systems, the structural premise of the practice is a fundamental aspect as to how the practice communicates to the participant. The research question is set up so that it reveals and illustrates the key structures being deployed in contemporary practices, the most traditional of which being the "dramatic arc". The findings of the research question A will serve as a context which research question B will depart from.
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Question B

The review of contemporary practice revealed a strong set of prevailing hegemonies, which have interesting parallels with certain camps in hypertext theory. Their claim is that the dissemination of artworks to a broader audience is impeded by a lack of visually aesthetic texts [24]. Thus research question B is set up to test the possibilities and limitations of creating a visual aesthetic which offers a rich and different sense of immersion in the face of the prevailing new media hegemonies.
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The combined and concluded outcomes of both research questions are situated in a new artwork, which in turn function as embodiment of the thesis argument. Many of my comments reside within the artwork, though these are externally supported by some commentary texts and the insights from invited expert participants.

1.5 Thesis methodology
I use a mixed method approach, combining in a triangulated manner:
1. A short historical literary appraisal
2. A contemporary review of practice
3. Both of these illustrate the context of screen and Internet based digital visual art practice. From these reviews I established the field of study. From this contextual base I devised the research questions, which are answered primarily by the practice. This critical practice makes up the third point to the triangle. The practical element is further supported by external critical reviews from expert participants. Full thesis methodology
1.6 Terms and definitions
Many of these terms have been loosely used or misconstrued and are often the root cause of many disagreements between various research domains. Adequate terminology has been a major issue within the critique of responsive artworks (especially defining the limits of narrative -- closely followed by defining interactive). Below are a selection of terms and a description of the rationale as to how and why they are used in the thesis.
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Artist or practitioner
In this thesis "artist" or "practitioner" are used instead of author, creator, designer, maker or new media developer. The words "artist" or "practitioner" as used hereinafter refer to a visual artist/practitioner. An artist is someone who uses imagination and skill to create works of aesthetic and cultural value.
Participant vs. user
The term "participant" is used instead of user, reader, interactor, player, viewer, wreader, vuser [25], or audience.
I prefer participant as it suggests a more fluid or reflective role. User (the most ubiquitous term from the above) can suggest more aggressive or commercially driven exchanges. Participant suggests a more equal relationship and has appropriate associations with theatre, open dialogues, and group playing.
Within my own practice, and many of the other types of online artworks, I see the works as types of performances and not aligned to the historical association of object-based art that is conventionally located in galleries or museums.
Responsive vs. interactive or ergodic
In this thesis, the term "interaction" is defined by the cybertext paradigm as laid out by Espen Aarseth in 1997. Interaction is when "nontrivial effort is required to allow the participant to traverse the text" [Aarseth 1997]. Aarseth posits the term "ergodic" instead of the vague term interaction. I have substituted ergodic / interactive with the term "responsive". This is taken to mean a text / artwork that is structurally intended to respond / react to the participant's enquiry. To use the term responsive indicates the emphasis on both the artwork's inbuilt predilections and the participant's choices. Also to use the words responsive/ respond, allows for a more non-fetishized or un-idealised usage in comparison to the heated discussion around interactive or ergodic texts.
Cybertext
In this thesis, the term "cybertext" is used in a looser form than Aarseth' s definition, that being any instance of symbolic communication significantly mediated by a computational feedback loop [26] e.g. when the system responds instantaneously to every action of the participant, which in turn provokes a new response. This definition is not limited to hypertext (a very specialized form of cybertext) but includes distributed Internet applications, virtual environments, games, simulations, and various forms of generative experimental art forms.
Narrative vs. narrative-like
Traditional narrative media are taken to mean books and films. I subscribe to narratologist Gerald Prince's definition of narrative as "the representation of at least two real or fictive events or situations in a time sequence, neither of which presupposes or entails the other" [Prince 1982; p 4]. This highlights the importance of both temporal and causal exchanges between a series of events. Within the practice as submitted in this thesis, the narrative is significantly open. This openness is sited in part with in the visual ambiguity and in the multiple possibilities of sequencing and accessing the narrative. The participant's rules of behaviour are unconventional and as such the narrative may often initially be obscured or hidden. In this sense the narrative is narrative-like or postmodernly narrative rather than traditionally narrative.
Multiple State Environments
Multiple State Environments, or hereafter MSE's, refers to structures that have not one true static state but have different possibilities, and as such come with implied, designated, or yet to be discovered rules which govern the participant's performance in creating the different structural positions. As the ludologist Gonzalo Frasca illustrates:

 

"… there is a very particular kind of toy, known as "Transformer". Based on a Japanese animated television series, the Transformers are robots that can transform themselves into different machines. When you first open a box containing a Transformer, you see a puppet with all the characteristics of a robot. After certain manipulations --which may be tricky and, in certain cases, puzzle-like -- the robot can be transformed into, let's say, a plane. The toy is articulated, made of connected moving parts but at any moment you have to dismantle it into different pieces: the transformation takes place without the toy losing any matter. Obviously, the toy has two different states: robot and plane...Our problem starts when we try to understand the Transformer as a whole. Is it a robot or a plane or both at the same time?"

"Imagine that we gave a Transformer to a child who has never watched the television series and is not familiar with its ability to change. If the transformation is not easy to perform --actually, it is quite common that you have to use a lot of pressure to transform the toy -- the child will just use it as a robot and never discover that it could also become a plane. In order to fully appreciate the toy you need something more than the mere object: you need a rule of behavior. In this case, the rule is "if you perform certain movements, your toy will change its state." Without that rule, the toy is simply a robot; with it, it becomes a Transformer, a dual state toy." [Frasca Videogames of the Oppressed 2001].

I have extended Frasca's term "dual state" into "multiple states" and attached the open term "environment" to mean a representation of space instead of worlds, stages, or sets. MSE is used in preference to interactive narratives or digital narratives
Further permutations of MSE's:
(V) MSEs: Visual Multiple State Environments, unlike text based MUD's or MOO's [3].
(Vec) MSE's: Vector based visual Multiple State Environments, unlike virtual reality caves or commercial games, which often use Bitmaps and 3D renderings.
(N) MSE's: Narrative based Multiple State Environments.

Interface
Interface is generally taken to mean a surface forming a common boundary between adjacent regions, bodies, substances, or phases. In this research project the "interface" in question is the onscreen, thus constrained representation as seen via the computer monitor. This interface is the surface of the digital environment.
1.7 My aesthetic
In my practice, "aesthetic" means the pursuit of particular strain of a visual and digital onscreen interface. One that is a hybrid of detailed line art, handcrafting and popular imagery. In addition to this pictorial style I use a post-modern approach to closure and the structural design of the artworks.
A particular quality of my aesthetic is what I would like to term as "fragital". This implies an uncommon pairing of the digital experience i.e. the individualized remote onscreen touch, and the sense of a material and sensitive tangibility which is located in the drawing, movement, composition and the responsive actions of the visual practice.
Another distinctive attribute to my aesthetic is the sense of hybridity. This is found in the visual language and how it is combined with the handling of the narrative -- the sense of movement and anachronism, the total effect being unconventional an un- or semi-reality in relation to the overarching aesthetic poles of the replication of reality and neo-minimalism . This unreality is built upon to create a sense of disturbance, which often fluctuates between a sense of familiarity and the alien. This ideas-in-conflict sensibility as well as the fragital powers much of the aesthetic. The familiar is achieved in the main by the visual language being a mix of popular icons, fashions and the drawn "comic strip" rendering style. The sense of the alien is found in the distortion or subversion of some of the visuals, e.g. physically they are mutilated, or they are in improper historical order and most importantly in the ambiguous non-prompted nature of participants' position. Each project shares the binding signature marks of a central female protagonist, the recurrent dichotomy of blooming and falling down and the hand drawn nature of the rendering. This hybrid of the foreign and the familiar as used to create a sense of disturbance is to be desired within my aesthetic.
1.8 Techniques and technology
The tool I use to construct, render and publish these narrative works is Macromedia Flash (versions 5.0 and MX). This software allows for timeline structuring, drawing and layout, animation, sound manipulation, interaction, programming and most significantly has a uniquely pervasive Internet viewing player [27]. Mostly, I draw by hand with a computer mouse, using this software.
Unsurprisingly, given its ubiquity, using Flash as a production tool is regarded by some artists as being worthy of contention. In his "On the Six Rules Towards A New Internet Art" [Salvaggio 2002], Internet artist Eryk Salvaggio (Salsabomb ), reflects on damage that Flash has on the developing Internet art scene,
  "from 1998/99… The designers began using Flash and Flash began trickling into art, a complete reversal of the traditional exploitation of the avant garde that usually occurs in the marketplace. The artists, looking to reflect the web as they saw it, learned the tools of the corporate media and things began to blur… The (SFMOMA 2001) site has overloaded on itself and become a parody of bad design and in doing so, set up a new expectation of what net.art was supposed to be: sleek, contentless, indecipherable and above all else, sleek. Did I mention sleek?"
He claims this is part of larger and more serious situation where Internet art has become "more about the "Net" than it was about "art."" and although I use Flash as the core tool I do agree in part with Salvaggio's sentiment that the convergent and parasitic nature of the Flash trend saw:
  "the disappearance of aesthetics in "academic" art, and an overbearingly strong aesthetic in "pop" art - the cult of programmer meets the cult of design; and a giant unified goal where every site must look like Josh Davis' Praystation or else it is a failure."
 

Where I disagree with Salvaggio is with his refutation of the pop aesthetic; fundamentally I support the conceptual premise of pop art (e.g. the return to representational art or tangible objects in a reaction against abstraction -- using materials that are drawn from the everyday world of popular culture-comic strips, advertising etc…), though I suspect that he is referring to the simplified vector style that is easily achieved using Flash. This Flash "pop" style [28] is produced not as a conceptual decision but rather the inbuilt outcome if you use the standardised drawing and colouring tools. Another argument I have with him is that I propose some (not all) of such pop styles will have been the defaulted outcomes of the first generation of outputs. This is mirrored within my own evolution. There is a marked difference in the level of drawing and complexity of shapes in comparison between the RedRidingHood project and the Deviant project. This is because to draw naturalistically or haptically within Flash requires desire, determination and skill to work in a sense against what the software is set up to do efficiently. The proliferation of first generation Flash websites (circa 1998-9) were posted up with excitement and energy, often as a result of the practitioners having created interactive or animated artworks for the first time in their lives. This begat an explosion of immature visuals and conceptually thin styles, but one I feel that has grown up [29]. These first generation Flash works were simply sketches albeit globally distributed. Salvaggio goes on to propose:

  " I don't think it is enough for a programmer to discuss code with his code, much as I believe a camera aimed at itself would not have become the most widespread form of media in the 20th century."

On this latter point I strongly agree. Internet art should engage and communicate ideas that exist in media outside the Internet as well as explore the issues that are revealed from the technology and the specific internal mechanics of the network.

Artists statement for further discussion
1.9 The hegemonies of the new media aesthetic
The points below are observations of the prevalent trends growing within the production of contemporary pictorial responsive forms -- videogames, new media art and commercial interface design.
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The choice of visual representation is relevant when we discuss methods of successful immersion within responsive systems. LeDiberder brothers state that a characteristic of a simulation (a type of responsive system) is that it pays great attention to detail [LeDiberder 1993]. We can see that within the aesthetics of recent computer games (the Playstation2, X Box, Game Cube) opposed to Internet based practices, there is a move towards photo-reality/replication/illusion of reality, which, for many, is seen as a way to improve better human sensations of presence and immersiveness [30].
Although many practitioners and theorists share this belief, there is a growing realisation at least in the practice of game play, that it has become secondary to the graphical appeal. This opinion has been voiced by Hiroshi Yamauchi, the ex-president of the Japanese game giant Nintendo [31],
  "the game industry should be making games, not movies, and that the development of truly new games, new types of having fun, has all but stopped. The situation is, in one sense, alarming, but this also leaves room for those who are able to stop the insane race for more polygons per second and concentrate on making games that are fun to play".
Similarly, Scott McCloud reflects that the simple image enables the viewer to have "universal identification", rather than a specific reality.
  "The cartoon is a vacuum into which our identity and awareness are pulled…an empty shell that we inhabit which enables us to travel in another realm" [Ibid; 2 p36]. McCloud questions why we respond to the cartoon as much or more than to a realistic image, and answers "amplification through simplification" [Ibid; 2 p30].
Being human, he claims, we can assign identities and emotions were none exist. Indeed, I believe it is short-sighted to see the aesthetics of screen based forms as being best when photo-realistic or indeed verbal. We should open our minds to mixed realities, when metaphor, icon and symbol are all employed to create other pictorial worlds somewhere between stylised, abstract and photographic. We do this when responding to the rules of behaviour, both in real life and make-believe. McCloud gives an example,
  "In some comics the split is far more pronounced, the Belgian "clear-line" style of Herges TinTin combines very iconic characters with unusually realistic background, this combination allows readers to mask themselves in a character and safely enter a sensually stimulating world."[Ibid; 2 p43]
LeDiberders' notion of detail can also be applied not only to imagery as well as craft, into detailed levels of interaction, of movement, of smoothness of experience or complexity of content. The detail can be the glue holding our attention in a well-designed system. I am interested in the development of a kind of digital craftsmanship. An example of this new media craft would be the detailed Internet pixel art style, which often relies on a convincing (though not realistic) representation of the source system e.g. Habbo Hotel [32], where each pixel unit of the artificial simulated world is plotted and brought to life.
 
Another major trend, which sits in opposition to representing reality, is a resurgence of the abstract minimalist style which some have called a "neo-minimalism" [33]. But firstly there existed and to an extent still exists a preoccupation with the mechanical digital, cyborg and the post-human whereby the artworks could be seen to use blinking green pixel type (as seen in the early adventure games), a prosaic use of circuit boards (as a methapor of connectivity and all things computerised) and the appropriation of the syntax of programming -- this could be termed an aesthetics of the technology [34].
 
Today's trend can be said to be the neo-minimalist aesthetic, which is often a result of programmatic based experiments. In this instance the computer, as instructed by the artist, yields geometric patterns with can either move independently or as a reaction to the participant, or recently, to external sonic input (typified by Insertsilence [35]). This is directly linked to algorithm / trigonometry based equations used within the programming. This resurgence of neo-minimalism is mostly attributed to the Macromedia Flash software and its Actionscript capabilities. As a category, neo-minimalism is often sited alongside notions of post-conceptual (where there is no distinction between works of self-expression and works of social critique i.e. they are part and parcel of the same activity). Other commonly found features of this type of new media work is in the collaboration with post-digital [36] electronic music and the use of the loop/remix as binding metaphors. Rarely are these neo-minimalist projects woven into a sequence or used as a narrative base.
1.10 The short literature review
The history of responsive narrative systems goes as far back as the ancient oral epic [Ong 1982], through role-playing [37], from Choose Your Own Adventure books [38], from early games, from postmodernist / modernist literature [39] down to today's digital opportunities -- whereby responsive systems can come in a multitude of shapes and sizes [40]. Contemporary digital responsive or interactive narratives have many manifestations, each of which offer different qualities to the participants' experience. It can be said that the first instance of digital interactive storytelling appeared in the form of textual games (Adventure on ARPA net 1967, Donald Woods, Will Crowther). Then by the early 1990s digital hypertext narratives [41] had established themselves as another and new literary form [Joyce 1987+ ]. Alongside these verbalized hypertexts came the development of the Internet art (Entropy8zuper! , Alexei Shulgin ), Flash art (circa 1999), commercial videogames [Miller and Miller 1993], cybertexts, MUDS and MOOs. For all intents and purposes, digital and Internet narrative practices look set to continue to expand.
 
What follows is a summary of the most influential voices and positions in the recent study of interactive narratives and how each of their contributions relate to my practice and approach.
 
Brenda Laurel -- Aristotelian Poetics
Brenda Laurel is a designer, researcher and writer. Her work focuses on interactive narrative, human-computer interaction, and cultural aspects of technology. Her career in human-computer interaction spans over twenty years. Her doctoral dissertation was the first to propose a comprehensive architecture for computer-based interactive fantasy and fiction. Recent work has seen her research focus on teen and female groups in the videogames industry. Within the ensuing debate amongst academic circles, Laurel's Computer as Theatre [Laurel 1991; 2nd edition 1993] stands as an early serious attempt to look at computers as a medium. She makes two distinctive claims: first, that software design can learn and develop from "Aristotelian Poetics"; second that both videogame design and software design alike can benefit from the principles of drama in that, unlike narrative, it focuses on user performance. She views the user as a performer and not an audience member. The title of the book draws the analogy between constructing theatre experiences and those that involve sitting and interacting with a computer. Yet, it seems that this perception of computers as theatre is not established as securely as the comparisons with traditional narrative forms. During the last decade, researchers such as George Landow or Jay Bolter [Bolter 1991; Landow 1992; Landow 1994] have concentrated on the textual hypertext form. They linked this expression of storytelling and poetry to existent post-structuralist and other literary theories rather than to the performative, theatre lineage as posed by Laurel.
 
Some aspects of Laurel's perspective are appropriate to my approach in that I regard the audience as a participant rather than a user. For example, the role of participant is akin to the role of a performer. Visually, my project Deviant uses onscreen space in a way that suggests parallels with the theatre. Its narrative visual contents are set immobile in a tableau-like composition, then sometimes short, sometimes looping animated bursts of movement occur after the participant explores the objects.
 
Janet Murray -- Narratologist
Janet Murray's Hamlet on the Holodeck [Murray 1997] is a popular and seminal and early text dealing with narrative in cyberspace. In this book, the computer is seen as a new technology by which to practise storytelling. Her studies include videogames along with hypertexts, web serials, and interactive chat characters. She distinguished three main qualities of this new medium: immersion, agency, and transformation. By immersion, she means the power of the medium for helping the user to construct beliefs rather than suspending beliefs. Agency is the capacity of the medium to allow the user to perform actions that have consequences on representation (responsive interaction). And finally, transformation is the ability to move agilely between multi perspectives. It simulates worlds that can enhance the two previous characteristics. Murray argues that the concept of storytelling must expand to include traditional forms (literature, drama, film) and towards interactive forms (videogames, hypertexts, conversational AI). Murray identifies "interaction" with participation, and unlike Aarseth (below) is not particularly concerned with the detailed working of the machinery in a system but rather the participant's sense of agency. Agency "is the satisfying power to make meaningful action and see the results of our decisions and choices" [Murray 1997; p126]. Her definition of Interactive fiction is concurrent with Jay Bolters [Bolter 1991] as electronic writing containing episodes or topics, connected by decision points or marks.
 
My main point of contention with Murray's propositions is that I do not agree with Murray's idea that digital narratives are in a "protean state"; this to me infers a traditionalist search for canonical master texts. From my practice led perspective, I see digital narratives as been / always being outside the mass or populist narrative consumption, and indeed this non-commercial position, I believe, inspires many practitioners to produce (also see Paul Digital Art [42]).
 
Espen Aarseth -- Cybertext
While both Laurel and Murray describe the computer as medium and discuss the new phenomena such as graphical interfaces, social practices and the cognitive behaviour needed in games and hypertexts, Aarseth focused his Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature [Aarseth 1997] on the deeper analysis of solely textual forms. Most of these are computer-based forms. He also makes the point of showing a lineage back to ancient and conventional texts, disputing the common belief that literal interaction within narrative is a shocking new development. Instead of drawing comparison with drama or narrative, he investigated their "behaviors", comparing them to meaning-making machines. Aarseth's "cybertext" is a term derived from cybernetics, a discipline that studies system dynamics, often applied to the study of complex systems, including organization and human behaviour and particularly computer simulation. This definition of cybertextual form acknowledges the change of signs and signifiers and thus multiple readings. It also restricts any medium bias as the aesthetics and social context of these machines are not the primary issue. More important are the functions and the principles that underlie them. Aarseth ranks interactive narratives (by which he means literary hypertexts) hierarchically lower down among cybertexts where the machinery of a programmed system controls and evolves the type of story produced [40]. He argues that cybertexts are dynamic and hypertexts are static (however he concedes that if the linking system is large enough and dense enough the presence of randomness comes to play, a credited cybertext feature). Aarseth is concerned with the author-computer-text triangle in contrast to the author-text-reader alignment. However he does accept that "to claim that there is no difference between games and narratives is to ignore essential qualities of both categories. And yet, as this study tries to show, the difference is not clear-cut, and there is significant overlap between the two." [Aarseth 1997; p5] Aarseth also states that in open-ended readings the interpretation of the experience is fundamental and that literary theorists' attempts to "uncover literary ambivalence in texts with linear expression" are no longer valid when variable expressions are at play. Aarseth also posits the term "Ergodic", to be used instead of the vague well-used term "interactive", and prefers to describe these new forms as Ergodic literature, defined as texts where "nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text." By nontrivial he means active participation rather than turning the pages of a book, which does not modify the shape and reading of the text itself.
In my thesis, the term "cybertext" is used in a looser form than Aarseth' s definition, i.e. as any instance of symbolic communication significantly mediated by a computational feedback loop. This definition is not limited to hypertext (a very specialized form of cybertext) but includes distributed Internet applications, digital environments, games, simulations, and various forms of self-generating experimental art forms.
 
I found the cybertext perspective useful in its direct focus on the structural set up of how the various ergodic practices generate multiple meanings. However I found the implied hierarchy that proper cybertexts should be significantly complex in structure a little reductionist. This is because practices such as mine have an inherent accumulative nature, where even simple structures can create over-proportional results. So the end result is far more complex (cognitively) than the basic layout appears.
 
Gonzalo Frasca -- Ludology
Frasca (the founder of Ludology.org ) is positioned out with the literary circle having previously researched play and the history of games. His master's thesis, Videogames of the Oppressed - Videogames as a means for critical thinking and debate [Frasca 2001], studies simulation theory and videogames as a tool to foster critical thinking. Aarseth and others have commented on the simulation genre found in videogames, but Frasca goes further by adding the transformative / dual state of videogame systems into the discussion of semiotics. Another interesting point is his acceptance of non-real source systems for simulations, where fictional rules of physics and laws of society are acceptable. He gives the example: "is the word unicorn not a sign since its referent is not real…?" Frasca offers a hypothesis as to why the term Ludology is more appropriate when researching videogames -- Ludology is derived from the Latin word "ludus" (game). The term has historically been used to describe the study of games and particularly of board games. Before this perspective (pre-1997), researchers for the most part explained computer games through previous existing media (drama, narrative, film). Frasca (like the cybertext school) believes:
  "That by studying videogames as something else than games, they are denying its main potential. This potential is not narrative, but simulation: the ability to represent dynamic systems. A picture of a dog represents a particular dog: we can learn about its shape, color, etc. A simulated dog as Sony's Aibo or Mindscape's Dogz is not only made through signs but also through rules of behavior. In order to understand Aibo we do not only interpret its signs, but we also must experiment with it in order to be able to infer some of its behavioral rules. To make a long story short, representation is about signs, while simulation is about signs and behavior. This is the ontological difference that makes me claim that games cannot be understood through theories derived from narrative." [43]
Frasca focuses not only on understanding the functionality of simulations, but also on the possible social usages of simulations. My approach parallels his in my interest in re-presenting and transforming narrative subject matter that comments on the female gender. In this context, this critical commentary is found in both the visual language employed and the way the rules of exploration are set up and governed. In turn, the critical commentary recurs in the subsequent responses from the participation.
 
Lev Manovich -- Film Theory
Manovich comes from a cultural and film studies background (specialising with the Russian Futurists), Russian in origin but teaching and working in the USA. He is also the director of the new media art communication organization Rhizome and author of The Language of New Media [Manovich 2001]. Similar to Frasca, he has come from a non-literary critique background. Today his emphasis is not in simulation and the history of games but in contextualising mediums and placing New Media and the Internet into a media ecology.
 
Manovich points out the problems that occur when a medium becomes blurred, when mass and art cultures collide. Video and photography on their own pose no problems; photographs deal with still imagery, video relates to film; but video can also relate to television where both have the same material base (electronic signals which can be transmitted live or recorded on a tape) and also involve the same conditions of perception (television monitor). The only justification for treating them as separate media are sociological and economic, i.e. the differences in sizes of their respective audiences, in mechanisms of distribution (via television network versus museum and gallery exhibition), and in the number of copies of a tape/program being made [44]. He claims that new media art is a relatively new instance of mass distribution technologies being used in the gallery context, where the art establishment has applied an inappropriate fetishism on the "art object". This can be witnessed in gallery shops where we find limited edition DVDs of Internet art.
 
One of Manovich's distinctive takes on this situation is that software should be, or is, part of the sender-message-receiver equation. It is influenced by the way we send and experience or receive the message. The abstract rules of programming combined with the speeds of the display tool sometimes provide the sole inspiration for the artists. Contemporary design and experimental art such as that shown at Flashforward2001 Amsterdam [45] highlights this issue. Some artists take it one step further and program their own software to mediate their expression and help them to create the visuals they desire. Artist Joshua Davies talks about building personal coded "engines" and feeding graphical elements into them to create experimental unimagined (he can't anticipate what the computer will "spit" out at him) landscapes such as his Mountain Pass or Insect and Machine [45], after which he applies narrative themes as he interprets the animations. At this stage, or at the beginning, he works with collaborative musicians to enforce or complement the emotional quality. This process then leads him to fine tune these "engines" and the graphics. Recently [46] Manovich discussed the recent trend in new media art as data visualization, whereby setting up formal rules of calculation (in Java or C languages), the artist can interpret traditionally overwhelming data groups. An example is Lisa Jevbratt's 1:1 project (shown at the Whitney Biennale 2002 [47]), which includes the creation, maintenance, and visualization of the C5 IP database, containing the IP addresses to all hosts on the world wide web. The project uses this database to create five interfaces (Hierarchical, Every, Petri, Random, Excursion) for navigating the web and to generate a new topography of the web.
 
Similarly co-collaborators Paterson and Pitaru, build on this idea by synchronizing the animations they create not to random or pre-ordained mathematical plotting of positions but as visualisations of the resonance and pitch of the accompanying audio (see Pagan Poetry[45]) which was played live on a piano hooked up to a computer at their Flashforward2001 Amsterdam presentation. Also of interest is that Paterson draws out his forms (a sliding scale from abstracted Burrows-esque distorted drawings to Giacometti like figures) and literally shreds or slices them with the Flash lasso tool and plots this into the animation/interactive engine, which in turn abstracts further and contorts his forms. The computer is the mediator (co-creator and display tool) by which artist and participants alike are excited by these new -- and sometimes unimagined -- forms, which seem impossible to conceive through other means.
 
Primarily, Manovich's perspective reaffirms and supports my awareness of the neo-minimalist or "soft modernism" (Flash) aesthetic. Whereas he sees this trend in a positive light "(Flash) uses neo-minimalism as a pill to cure us from post-modernism" [33], I see it as an interesting phenomenon, but one that is limiting, at least in respect to rendering narrative environments. His other contribution, of proposing that the software used to produce a communication actually conditions the sender-message-receiver equation, is one that I have personally experienced. In using Macromedia Flash. The software's characteristic ability to present precise graphic crispness at any level of scalability (being vector based [48]) led me to develop and push the tropes of the pan/zoom and pixel-level detailing.
 
Marie-Laure Ryan-- Independent Scholar
  "There are plot types and character types that are best for the novel, others are best for oral storytelling, and yet others are best for the stage or the cinema. The question, then, is to decide which types of stories are suitable for digital media." [49]
The above quote encapsulates much of Marie-Laure Ryan academic interests -- in the crossover between narrative, interactivity and digital media. She is less well known than the previous researchers I discussed, although she has published over fifty articles on narrative theory, genre theory, linguistic approaches to literature, digital culture and is the author of Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence and Narrative Theory [Ryan 1991], Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media [Ryan 2001] and editor of Narrative Across Media [Ryan 2004].
 
This situation is perhaps due to the tasks she often undertakes. These are often seen to be outmoded. For example, she has located or reclaimed narratology for game theory, has bridged the gaps between narrative and media studies and clearly articulating unpopular opinions such as: the problematic relationship that complexly non-linear narrative structures has with creating sufficient user closure [50]. Ryan also goes on to suggest that the new media aesthetic of postmodernism is clearly anti-immersive because the user cannot achieve a sense of location and/or an affinity with a narrative character [Ryan 2000; p.120].
 
Ryan is undoubtedly critical and questioning, and like Douglas (below) is not interested in futurology, however she does attempt to posit some solutions or avenues that may answer her own questions. Of interest to Ryan is the relinquishing of the model of the novel in favour of localized experience of narrative such as short episodic, provocative or poetic structures. Ryan also suggests that hypertexts depart from verbal textuality and should include images, spoken word and sounds [Ryan 2001;p.266]. She also reaches into the territories of conceptual visual art. This Ryan feels will enable a better sense of user immersiveness and generate more appropriate stories for digital media.
 
Ryan's perspective primarily supports my position that visual resources, the built-in spatiality of pictures can help the participant's immersion within the narrative by giving them a sense of space. She also supports my belief [Leishman 2000] that participants need to be gently "initiated into point-and-click interactivity" [Ryan 2001: The future of interactivity], which was seen not to happen in the early rebellious structures of verbalized hypertexts. However I disagree that post-modern immersion fails to offer cognitive space in which the participant can recall or create a global narrative, I believe that it can, if the postmodernity is located (but not exclusively) in the visual language more than the structural set up.
 
J. Yellowlees Douglas -- Hypertext
Douglas is a contemporary of the cornerstone hypertext creators and theorists Michael Joyce, Stuart Moulthrop and John McDaid. In her book, End of books- or books without end? [2000 [51]) Douglas positions herself on the here and now (in contrast to what she called the futuristic zero-frost positions of Aarseth and Murray) of interactive forms and the practice of close (multiple readings) of hypertexts such as Afternoon [Joyce 1987].
 
At the time of publishing, Douglas commented on the scarcity of examples of interactive narratives to study. In her eyes there were still as few artefacts as a decade previously although the Internet and technology had proportionally grown [52]. In 1998 the culture of disillusionment or cynicism was rife with statements such as "Interactive fiction is mostly a fiction-great concept what about the demo models" [18]. Recently Raine Koskimaa has taken up Douglas's position as a close reader and interpreter of hypertext. He has been so bold to use and define the term "new wave of hypertext fiction" [53]. Here he sees the new wave of hypertext fiction as works that have gone native in the Internet, where there is a fruitful feedback loop between the texts and contexts not seen in the majority of early hypertext fiction. Therefore, the new hypertext fiction is written for the web, and is aware of its own on-line existence. Examples cited are: Michael Joyce's The Sonatas of Saint Francis, M. D. Coverley's The Book of Going Forth by Day, Nick Montfort's and William Gillespie's The Ed Report, and Talan Memmot's Lexia to Perplexia [53].
 
Literary critics did not see what Douglas calls "digital narratives" (generally regarded as the CD-ROM and video gaming industries) as a serious threat to modern literature, and to a certain extent still do not. Rather more worrying for this group (conservative literary critics) are those writers who can be understood in that they follow a long lineage of contemporary literature and use recognizable traits such as developing complex locations, characters, plot and modern styles of prose. Instead of using the printed book, these writers have experimented with hypertext systems to build structures to construct the form of their texts, relinquishing the bound and printed book. These scholarly writers, who challenge post-modern fiction and are putting into practice post-structuralist theories, represent the traditionalist camp's major threat to the "book" as they know it.
 
However the dissemination of these works has not significantly altered society's perception of how narrative can be consumed (hypertext forms are at least 20 years old). Perhaps it has heralded the next chapter in contemporary writing techniques or indeed an interesting testing of reader-response philosophies. Whereas the image-led equivalent hypermedia / visual cybertexts have succeeded in gaining a larger audience base, and even the ability to cross fertilize other media (successful computer games being translated into linear Hollywood blockbusters), and on a lesser scale Internet based forms find themselves being mass downloaded with browsing viewer numbers rocketing. Indeed, in recent years, we have witnessed the advent of contemporary gallery spaces install and screen such artefacts [54]. The style of digital art has been constrained by limitations of the Internet -- file size restrictions, bandwidth problems. Online aesthetics have to be frugal compared to traditional viewing locations like art galleries, the cinema, theatre, and in print. Independent and non-trained artists, animators and filmmakers worldwide continue to post up new forms of expression and conceptual works. Long term, the Internet and its art audience has rewarded the dedicated and the impassioned Internet producer; as elsewhere, technical virtuosity and artistic creativity and talent hold the audience captivated, the transience and anonymity of the work types however adding a new quality. Image based cybertexts or digital narratives have in my opinion a different (and less respected) lineage coming down from early games, popup and comic books, abstract cinema [55], and animation instead of the Gutenberg Press.
 
Douglas comments that "digital narratives" have no exalted lineage from which to gain acceptance and respectability, unlike avant-garde fiction and other digital narratives and their "shaky, jerky video clips" [Douglas 2000; p8] do not bear comparison. However, this is to miss the point entirely and is the crux of another problem -- that however adroit and innovative such literary critics are, they are misplaced in applying their perspective to the art and visual fields. The "shaky jerky video clips" can be seen as constituting the birth of a stylistic development, though perhaps Douglas is commenting on the early CD-ROM productions' huge (in memory size) and unrealistic design, played on the small processor speeds of the first generation Apple Macs. These were truly stuttering animations which were never intended to be viewed as such but the low tech-ness (in terms of computer graphics) of the early computer graphics (Nintendo games, early Macintosh interfaces) have spawned a retro style of their own. Some artists and illustrators alike can now be seen to specialize in pixel art [56] and in animation techniques. This involves almost enlightened primitivism. High audio, complex and visually lush animations do not run well on the Internet. Their art is reminiscent of Victorian Pop up books and movable paper cut out puppet shows [57]. And yet they sit side by side as the low-tech "indie" and non-friendly (in attitude) brother of the billion dollar industries of commercial videogame production and their state of the art realist animation.
 
The zero frost position of Douglas (in contrast to Murray's) appeals to my practice led approach which is concerned with creating responsive multiple state systems, testing them, making mistakes, and elucidating their meanings. This is distinct from unbound speculative thinking of what may develop. However I disagree with Douglas on the problematic lack of linage for these digital narratives, indeed I support Moulthrop and his interstitial perspective (see below) in which the artwork:
  "… expatiates upon the materiality of expression. It embodies precisely the opposite of "seeing through," in that it holds forth its own mediation, along with that of other texts, for relentless inspection. It does not take us beyond mediation into the pure and timeless realm of story. It does not lead to the holodeck." [Moulthrop Gamely Interstitial 1999]
In this paradigm, lineages are found in non-traditional spheres such as: comics, games, experimental novels etc… [58] all of which occupy cultural interstices, tenuous gaps not covered by "comfortable old hierarchical" [59] forms.
 
The above theoretical standpoints veer from contemporary literary theory, such as the vindication of poststructuralists [Landow 1992; Joyce1995], to the realisation of the postmodernist sociologists' and psychologists' point of view [Turkle 1996], from the perspective of futuristic cultural studies of Lev Manovich [Manovich 2001] to the provocations of contemporary videogame researchers [Friedman 1997; Eskelinen 2001; Frasca 2001;Juul 2001]. The narrative form is back in the fore. Definitions of new genres, methods of construction and reading are ongoing and hotly contested by all camps.
1.11 Supporting critical theory
Preferred perspective: the interstitial and cybertext paradigms
The critiques of works such as mine are shared between games studies, literary studies, communication design (semiotics), new media art, media/film studies and the field of human computer interaction.
These positions have different emphases. This may be because the artworks themselves are inherently diverse in form, and in contextual allegiances. Commonly, these artistic works are achieved individually and outside the commercial realm (videogames are an exception), thus the creative and conceptual choices open to the practitioner are vast.
Three main perspectives exist within this research. Firstly (in chronology) are the hypertext theorists who viewed the practices of hypertext fiction (typically early 1990s [60]) within deconstruction and poststructuralist ideologies. This paradigm for the most part has been criticised for being overly theoretical and complex, focusing on a small body of verbalised master texts (thus convergent) rather than applying an external awareness of new and developing artefacts. Recent hypertexts have included image and audio elements, further aligning themselves with the histories of concrete poetry.
Secondly and more recently, there is a developing scholarly collective of game studies researchers (circa 1999, [61]). They specialise in a cultural media contextualisation of games, as well as researching the formal attributes such as the aesthetics and issues of spatial and visual intelligence as offered by videogame products.
Arguably, a subsection or hybrid of the two previous positions is the cybertext perspective as instigated by Espen Aarseth (1997). Cybertext was an early and significant domain that was seen to place computer games within the realm of literary critical enquiry. Cybertext is a structural and conceptual position open to various media if they qualify as being "ergodic" (e.g. when nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text). Aarseth himself focuses on literature and verbal transactions, though does not rule out the analysis of image-led structures.
Finally and still emergent is the broad field of new media art (which covers software art, data visualisation art, web serials, streaming performances, ASCII art etc…). A significant amount of new media art can be seen as a reaction against the field of commercial HCI (Human Computer Interaction [10]), and a commentary on the fields of communication and media theory. This domain is typically lacking a clear critical discourse, though it can be broadly sited in post-digital and post-contemporary paradigms [36].
The cybertext paradigm involves the belief that the system in question should be significantly mediated by complexity or dynamic behaviours rather than being a simply linked non-linear structure such as hypertexts, CD-ROMs, and basic games (cybertexts are generally taken to mean digital however need not exclusively be), whereas the interstitial paradigm (Moulthrop) is essentially less formal than cybertext but more conceptual or philosophical in nature.
 
Stuart Moulthrop is a digital practitioner of classical hypertext fictions such as Victory Garden (1991) The Colour of Television (1996; with Sean Cohen), Hegirascope (1995/1997), and Reagan Library (1999). As well as in his body of artworks, Moulthrop has shown in his numerous essays and talks that he is interested in both the broader changes in literacy and fiction and the possible implications that hypertext and the Internet have on our cultural landscape.
Moulthrop at the Digital Arts and Culture Conference 2001 prominently used the term "interstitial", in his closing keynote speech. It was from his observation of the contemporary practices and the participant's experience of new media art (see jodi.org [62]) and cybertexts (especially Riven, by Miller & Miller, 1997) that he reapplied the term interstitial. Originally it was used by Michael Joyce in Of Two Minds, 1995. Moulthrop appropriated interstitial to describe works that are inherently "difficult", and whereby interstitial artists are imbued with a "trickster spirit"-- referring in particular to John McDaid, Noah Wardrip-Fruin and the conference based "readings" of John Cayley, Jim Rosenberg, Judd Morrissey, and Lori Talley.
 
Moulthrop's use of the term is an evolution from Joyce's, in that Joyce used interstitial to describe the more stylistically obscure sections of his book that were placed between two or more focused sections of writing. When I asked. Moulthrop to expand upon his motivation in using the term interstitial, he replied:
  "To me, Michael's usage always seemed more than arbitrary or technical, really almost metaphysical or spiritual -- as if the standing-between stood for something deeply related to the truth or purpose of what we were doing with hypertext, where as I take it we are always betweening something."
(Moulthrop, email correspondence, July 2004 )
Moulthrop defines the interstitial:
  "At its most direct, interstitial design insists and expatiates upon the materiality of expression. It embodies precisely the opposite of "seeing through," in that it holds forth its own mediation, along with that of other texts, for relentless inspection. It does not take us beyond mediation into the pure and timeless realm of story. It does not lead to the Holodeck… Comics, games -- and, yes, experimental novels -- all occupy cultural interstices, tenuous gaps not covered by "comfortable old hierarchical" forms. What is a comic -- a novel with too many illustrations, or a very fast film? What is a [Cyan] game -- a novel with no characters, or a film with too many cuts? Interstitial fictions represent breaks in the illusion of necessity foisted by major media forms. They reveal unauthorized vectors; they make us aware of interfaces, of media, of different ways to go. All of which may be meaningful..."
Moulthrop, Gamely Interstitial, Narrative, Excess, and Artifactual Interstanding, 1999.
  "In phenomena like comics and adventure games, or for that matter in imaginative cybertexts and unconventional novels and films, we may be seeing the emergence of a fictive sensibility more finely attuned to gaps, inconsistencies, tensions, and fissures than to unbroken traditional lines."
Moulthrop, Misadventure: Future Fiction and the New Networks, 1999.
 
The Moulthrop definition of interstitial art is that it exists in the interstices (spaces between), and capable of binding two or more things together. Closely linked to this interstitial is the term "inter-standing" as discussed by Mark Taylor and Esa Saarinen in Imagologies:
  "When depth gives way to surface, under-standing becomes inter-standing. To comprehend is no longer to grasp what lies beneath but to glimpse what lies between.... Understanding has become impossible because nothing stands under. Interstanding has become unavoidable because everything stands between." Taylor & Saarinen 1994, p. Interstanding 1.
 
Though in its nature not fixed, the term interstitial suggests celebrating all practices that fall between currently established genres and forms, one example could be -- practice that can be said to problematise the labels of fiction and non-fiction, games and art. The artworks located in this thesis can be said to be interstitial practice.
Interstitial practice with its fractures and gaps can be said to create what Eco calls Open Works -- when the artist has made a decision to leave the arrangement of the depending on your intention, the artwork 's constituents to chance, thus giving the artwork not a single definitive order but a multiplicity of possible orders [Eco 1989]. This is in direct contrast to the prevalent mindset of today's interface culture and its "ease of use" ideology. Interface seen in HCI terms, should be logical, intuitive and satisfying to use [10].
 
This thesis is underpinned by the interstitial paradigm and its subsequent poststructuralist ideology.
1.12 Introduction to the contemporary artwork
and context review
Example of Practice
The following sections are semi-categorised examples of visual artistic practice as found over the Internet. The artists have been selected to give an accurate impression of the varied contemporary visual practices evolving within the Internet as pertinent to this research. Those included are in different ways relevant to my specialised area of research (pictorial narrative and responsive structures). I feel this demarcation is not only justified but also essential considering that the Internet holds a vast quantity of websites of both varying technical, aesthetic and conceptual quality and has an ever increasing and shifting volume of content. The practices highlighted in this review have come to my attention through their critical successes (e.g. they have received media accolades via awards, exhibitions), through inspecting the Internet for individuals and communities relevant to my research and my first hand experience of the design orientated Flash community.
 
Text contains (where necessary) hyperlinks to live sites; these links at the time of writing are accurate and correct. The fluctuating stability of website addresses and hosting servers means that these links may not be accessible in the future. To compensate for this I have endeavoured to take multiple snapshots -- "screen grabs" of the practice as it appears in Spring/Summer 2002 (second round Summer 2004). These are organised and laid out in this directory as Jpegs -- a universal (both PC and Mackintosh) digital format, thus allowing other researchers and archivists direct and editable access. All rights reserved to the artists featured in the review.
 
1.12.1 Introduction to new media art Example of Practice
Back in the early 1990s, a collective of disparate Internet based multimedia works were gathered together under the loose name of new media art [63], or as sometimes called: net.art, web art, network art, internet art, hypermedia, hypertext, tactical media, hacktivism, interactive art, cyberart or digital art [64]. At this point, artists and their works had a healthy disregard for the established gallery context -- the "Art world", and were best described as being more aligned to existing fanzine and pirate cooperative cultures. After all, how would native Internet based work (at this point with low visual value) be shown in a pristine white gallery space? Today we see a change with increasing amounts of new media art conceived with the gallery context in mind. New media and the Internet have inevitably become part of our mass media consciousness. The language, syntax, and its visual style have been absorbed into diverse everyday forms such as magazine design, television and banner advertisements.
There is also a recent trend for the corporate technology companies, such as Macromedia, to support visually motivated practitioners who use commercial software. These sponsors offer another route in addition to the not for profit funding bodies and galleries. Such selection and funding (via showcase projects and conferences) inevitably breeds its own kind of blurred commercialism as artworks and the applications' inherent characteristics become intertwined, elitism (in the non-altruistic selection of the artists), hegemony and an element of genderism can also be seen to be emergent [65]. I believe originally the new media artists were attracted to the Internet's lack of hierarchal structure, positions of worth, physical identity and the potential for a close knit, low cost, and highly communicative community of practitioners.

It could be put forward that politically and stylistically most new media art can be generalised into being aligned to either the neo-modernist aesthetic of simplicity and reduction or the postmodernist traits of simulacra, re-sampling and collage, both of which groups continue to sustain the non-fetishized open source ideology in the distribution of the work -- as once digitised practically all media can be downloaded, screengrabbed and reused.

An ongoing debate within new media art and increasingly in contemporary galleries is that the Internet was seen to be one place where no rules of categorisation or cultural worth were applied, yet at the same time unspoken rules are being developed about what does or does not constitute "Art". For example what is the difference (if any) between digital artists who make "Art" and technologists experimenting with concepts and aesthetics? I believe it is not only the presentation but also the works themselves that are of interest and as with established pre-digital art forms: intent. I propose that several considerations are of equal importance. This includes why something was created; what individual context gave rise to it; how it interacts with us emotionally and intellectually; as well as the particular excellence or innovativeness in the use of the digital tool.
 
1.12.2 Introduction to design Example of Practice
Design practice over the Internet is a diverse and continually growing activity. In the beginning, design entailed making palatable and legible early HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) websites with their limited colours and fonts. With the development of new software technologies (such as Adobe Photoshop, Discreet 3D Studio MAX, Macromedia Director, Flash and Dreaweaver) Internet design has come to absorb and extend the established print conventions of magazine, advertising and packaging design. This enabled once merely functional website design to become more experimental. These new new media software options offered to the designer, almost for the first time in history, the ability to integrate programming, database systems, audio, motion (animation/film) and interactivity, yielding an uncharted matrix of options.
Another departure for new media design (similar to what was happening within the new media art spheres) was the development of the Internet as a platform for global receivership, thus creating new audiences, peer groups, virtual studio communities and collaborations. As these became more established, another trend appeared. This was a wave of commercial designers who began to develop experimental personal websites that were outside of a commercial network. Often, these personal sites were the ones that delivered the pinnacle of experimental animation, graphic and audio design. Their content was available free to anyone with an internet connection. This, in turn, has launched a number of new media designers as international design leaders. Occasionally, some of them have emerged as new media artists in their own right (Joshua Davis , James Paterson , Amy Franceschini ).
 
1.12.3 Introduction to programmatic art Example of Practice
Programmatic media art is undoubtedly a new phenomenon within visual art history Its contemporary origins can be found in the Java Applets of John Maeda (circa 1996 [66]). When the term "programmatic" is used, I am referring to any practice that is sufficiently mediated by programming: by using formal instructions to create behaviours as a fundamental part of the work. However, it must be said that all Internet new media practices use a basic level of programming to sustain themselves over the Internet, e.g. to sit within a browser page, to be the target of a link from somewhere else or to provide a link to other sources. All Internet practice is in a partnership with technology. However, this new generation of programmatic new media art [67] has taken this relationship further, to a point where the practice is heavily if not completely mediated by technology (its code about code). In these instances, skills which previously belonged traditionally to primarily non-visually creative people (e.g. computer programmers, mathematicians) have now successfully impacted on a new visual digital culture. Surprising perhaps is the volume and diversity of work created by this marriage of skills.
Programmatic practice can veer from reactive physical performative codes (Digit and Insertsilence [35]), to abstract trigonometry data visualisation (Golan Levin and the Radical Software Group [68]) to developing artificial digital life forms (Soda and James Tindall [67]). In recent days an aesthetic has been seen to emerge from these programmatic practices, a new neo-modernism (reflecting the 1920's early Modernism), which uses a structured cleanliness and precision to create often beautiful and delicate onscreen textures. These are supported by symmetric, repetition based looping abstractions as generated by the computer [52].
Contemporary programmatic new media art is arguably only seven years old, since the release of Flash 3.0 (1998-9), with its basic and easy to comprehend "Actionscript" representing a new generation of programming languages [27]). Pre-Flash there existed another Macromedia product called Director, which was predominately used for CD-ROM, kiosk interface production and low-level responsive games Director movies were self-running and portable, but there was no feasible way to put them online, at least not until the Shockwave plug-in became available in 1995. Director uses "Lingo" as its programming language. Flash 3.0 was seen as a radically more accessible program. With this, Macromedia actively began to distribute their Flash Player plug-in, so that online and offline audiences could view the content created with the program. Today, Macromedia reports that 98% of total Internet users have the Flash player installed, making Flash a highly pervasive content medium. No longer is Flash just a way to display animations online; it has spawned a culture of highly reactive practices.
 
1.12.4 Introduction to hybrid art Example of Practice
  "The only thing that will stay the same is that things will change."
(Sage Francis, lyricist, Personal Journals, 2002)
The word "hybrid" is derived from the Latin hibrida, hybrida, meaning "mongrel". In technical terms it can mean combining two different technologies or systems. Artistically it can mean the marrying of two or more distinct lexicons or conceptual structures. When we discuss visual based Internet new media practice, there intrinsically exists sub and mixed cultures. These contain separate aesthetic ideologies, histories and linage.
 
Specific Internet based new media cultures:
I have grouped the producers of internet-based new media cultures into four categories.
Media artists: Media artists often have a modernist awareness of themselves and the media systems that they use or subvert, which in turn influences the work. Such artists often have a preoccupation with the interface and modes of modern communication exchanges e.g. mass, group or individual [Thompson and Craighead 70].
Cyber identity artists: These people work within the virtual invisibility that the Internet offers. Their work can be found dealing with trans gender issues, fictional role-playing, remote inter-human relationships etc… [Mouchette 71]
Data visualisations: Data visualisations are types of work that represent graphically and often differently a mass of previously unseen or unimagined data volumes (Jevbratt [47]).
Other: This category can include non-partisan social simulations, avant-garde narrative, and visual /concrete poetry and other yet to be formed emergent practices.
 
One has to go hybrid because of the continual flux between it and the established pre-Internet "Art" category, which for the most part is deemed to mean physical, non-networked, possibly conceptual, or craft orientated works. The new media art category tends to mix the contemporary media self-awareness with non-material new media technologies. In contrast, the new media design category shares the commercialese of its brief history with experimental practices such as the recent data visualisation trend (a clear trait of new media art). While these areas are likely to continue to merge and repel from each other, there lies a significant space to create un-categorical hybrids. I am interested in this open interstitial position as the place in which to talk to multiple domains, to react against canons of practice which infer patriarchal dominance and do not allow for multivalence.
These categories should be deemed as loose, as they are inherently unstable. These base categories as listed above are useful in understanding the cultural history from which the practice projects itself forward.(note: my practice sits within the "other" category). This fluctuating situation or growing hybridity is typically highlighted by the Flash Forward Conferences, whose categories over the years have continually changed and merged "Design" with "Art", commercial applications with experimental interfaces. Similarly Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), one of the world's major centres for art and technology (who have been awarding Golden Nicas to various digital practices since 1987) awarded their "Net Vision / Net Excellence" 2001 prize to the French design team cHmAn (for Banja ) and Flash designer/artist Joshua Davis (for Praystation), then in 2002, the "Net Vision / Net Excellence" Nica was awarded to the Radical Software Group (for Carnivore , included in the collective was Joshua Davis and new media designers Josh On/ Futurefarmers (for They Rule ) [72].
1.13 Artist statement
Prior to my academic pursuits I have worked professionally as a Internet designer, animator and digital illustrator at Blackid (Scotland) then as a Flash animator and digital illustrator at Bullseyeart (New York), where I was part of the team Emmy nominated for Season 5, 2000-2001 Rosie O'Donnell Show. From these two companies I had the opportunity to both engage with the intimate and niche Flash community (as both companies were at the forefront of Flash development) and experience the world of commercial usability and HCI in practice; this insider experience has been invaluable in my research.

Outside of commercial practice, I have been occupied with creating visual narrative and the sequence of narrative for over ten years, the last five of which has been specifically involved with the academic study of responsive narrative experiences.

Through my artistic career I have been interested in folklore in relation to society and mythic symbols, the female gender, places of otherworldliness and how and why they offer the viewer spaces to dream, imagine and decode hidden meanings. The literature I enjoy reflects my other interests in the uncanny, the mysterious, and the visceral language of the gothic, such as deployed by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Angela Carter, Ian Banks and the pulp horror novels of Anne Rice, Stephen King, and James Herbert. These thematic concerns of the folkloric and gothic have carried over and into my study of interaction within narrative.
In contemporary culture, the folkloric subjects and the oblique nature of their communications are becoming transplanted by more mass and reality driven messages. As narrative forms become more generalised, the language employed, the visual referents become less complex and thus less demanding. I found the involved nature of interactivity interesting as such exchanges could return the viewer to a less passive role. The founding origin of this interest comes from my teenage experience of board and dice orientated role-playing games (RPGs).
Today, my practice consists of taking stories that have been told in conventional print, and retelling them in a digital and responsive medium, transplanting the limitations of the book for the challenging computer screen interface. This retelling often involves reinterpretation, visual transformations and places my authorial intention in a different space whereby I relinquish control over the sequencing or indeed the level of closure the participant will attain.
The narratives I favour have normally had a multiple of retellings, show an aptitude for cross media mediations, in some level refer to gendered stereotypes and normally contain a clear protagonist. This latter point allows for levels of identification for both the participant and myself as the re-interpreter. My retelling occurs primarily in the pictorial plane (with the additional support from both audio and movement) and in the structuring of the participant's experiences.
Through this research and its attributed practice, I have found my voice as a particular type of storyteller, with a particular politic. As an artist, I am interested in themes and subjects that traditionally exist outside of the Internet and as such may be seen as "old-fashioned" [73], though my work has been created for and mediated by the Internet. This I believe offers a strong interpersonal dialogue between myself as the remote author, the original narrative text (if known to the participant), the responsive artwork and the Internet connected individual participant.
1.14 Synthesis
At the simplest level this thesis researches the interplay between narrative, image and interaction by the act of creating new artworks. The field of study was devised by the analysis of both the research context (hypertext, cybertext, interstitial ) and a review of contemporary Internet art practices . These reviews established that the field has substantial amounts of supporting theory (given its relative youth), involves many different domains, but highlighted a lack of predominately visual opposed to verbalised artworks directly tackling the issues of interactivity and narrative. I only intermittently refer to the domain of videogame development -- this is due to its commercial focus and inappropriateness to my practice
I came from the position of being an artist who had already began to develop a practice of visual interactive texts (RedRidingHood ), and as such sought to contextually support the work. At least in the early years of the research, this was difficult, as contextually I felt the nearest works to my own practice were text based hypertext, neo-minimalist Flash and bitmapped albeit Hollywood style RPG games. That is to say I felt isolated [74] in my critical practice. As these formats had only aspects which interested me, e.g. the hypertext's subversion of standardised sequence and its anti passive reading stance, Flash art's sense of onscreen delicacy and the magic of kinetic empowerment, the RPG game's sense of otherworldliness and 3D space, but none adequately communicated the type of practice I had started to develop. This led me to acknowledge that I was a type of hybrid and interstitial artist.
The lack of adequate examples, I believed, could be answered by the pursuit of a new narrative artform that was visual and encouraged an emotional, tactile and sensual type of immersion for the participant. Such engagement would offset the narratively dangerous situation that occurs when non-linear structures are employed [Ryan 2001]. This visuality would play a large part in creating a new digital onscreen aesthetic: that being one that is a hybrid of detailed line art / handcrafting / popular imagery with the digitally enabled post-modern treatment of the narrative sequencing.
The balancing of traditionally oxymoronic ideals -- creating an intrinsically interstitial experience which uses links, gaps, participant based risks etc… with the emotionally immersive and someway-resolved experience for the participant, functioned as a creative "brief" for the practice as submitted in this thesis.
1.15 Question A
Introduction

When enquiring into the creation of narrative multiple state systems (MSE's), and into the phenomena surrounding them, the structural premise of the practice is a fundamental aspect as to how the practice communicates to the participant.

The research question: "What types of narrativity can the artist develop within responsive multiple-state systems when they structurally secede from interaction mechanisms learnt within the context of traditional HCI and cinema?"

Is set up to investigate the key structures being deployed in contemporary practices, the most traditional of which is the "dramatic arc". The findings of the research question A will serve as a context from which research question B will depart from.
 
Context
MSEs are set apart from other narrative media in the way the system is programmed to allow or deny participant control [75]. This is the key characteristic of this approach. The levels of participant control can veer from quasi-linear click and move onwards action to the other extreme whereby the participant's onscreen input actively destroys or renders the image and narrative so complex or abstract it is unreadable.
The structure of the early visual cybertexts (circa 1990s) then called hypermedia / hypertext fiction gave rise to a lot of theory. In my opinion this was over theorising, given the newness of the form. This in itself may not be a destructive thing. It was a rare crossover of often-non-material conceptual thinking with practice-based artefacts. However, these early works apart from a few notable exceptions [Jackson 1985] were of low aesthetic calibre and were predominantly text-based models (which in design terms had a lack of sophistication in typography). The preoccupation of the structural supremacy (e.g. the more technically and literally complex come up top) outstretched and left behind a developing audience pool who found the non-visual language of many hypertexts unappealing and the content, given the structural permutations, too dense [76]. Hypertext fictions tended to be made by literary artists or acolytes of the prevailing theories and similarly read (in the main) by a keen literary culture. Visual artists had at this point very little impact on this niche field. In recent years this has been addressed by a more inclusive cybertext paradigm and by the growing field of game studies.
 
Link to interactive diagrams of delineated narrative structures:
Diagrams
1.15.1 Summary Question A
Linear
Traditionally, different media types have used key structures to relay their messages. The main or dominant structure is the linear sequence, which simply starts at the beginning, and moves through a prescribed sequence of events and finishes and the end. No direct non-trivial interaction or manipulation of this structure is asked of the participant, who is thus passive in such types of sequential communication exchanges. This linear experience is typically used in films and novels. Linear sequences can be regarded as a chain that is made up of singular events, which when seen in a particular sequence, has causal relevance to the whole and final experience. The imagery and characterisation of these singular events can be manipulated and cut to contrast and build tension within the chain.

 

Standard and Branching Loop

Is similar to the above, in that they start at a beginning and play a linear sequence. However, looping structures go one step further in that once initiated they return to this start point and loop either for a set amount of time or typically ad infinitum. Thus, it is argued, the loop actually defies the idea of beginnings and endings, and as such should be afforded some conceptual weighting as being a contemporary digital metaphor (Manovich 2002 [52]). Loops are frequently found within modern music, short animations, and media board visual displays. Loops are also strongly linked to the generative calculations programmed within the makeup of responsive visual art (e.g. the base calculations are looping enquiries (If/Else statements) as to the on-screen mouse position).

 

Branching Tree
The branching tree structure is said to have a more historical base seated within diverse subject areas such as biology and natural history (think of human family trees and evolution). The literary world has experimented with open ended structures (e.g. I Ching and Apollinaire's Calligrammes [77]), however until the advent of computer technologies and the easy to use hyperlink, branching tree structures had not yet been significantly explored as an artistic practice. The most important reason is that any meaningful organisation and creation of true branching tree system was very laborious and voluminous. The capabilities of the modern computer and the powerful database systems has in turn made the structure more viable. However the notion of a fully open-ended branching tree still verges on an unattainable ideal. However the branching tree's more limited siblings (e.g. where each branch need not spawn new branches but could loop, be a dead-end or return you to a previous point) have found much more success. The main stay of cybertext systems (as especially witness in the 1990's) has been these deviant (not true open-ended) tree structures, where the branches return the participant back to locations that are in some way meaningful to the developing narrative. Such systems can veer from large and densely linked to simple branching experiences, the latter of which are arguably quasi linear.

 

Polycentric and Dual / Multiple State Form

The above structures -- linear sequence, loops and branching tree variants can be collectively regarded as centred sequences, in that they have one central beginning point and generally one central vein or core which carries through the experience. I believe that there is another method available, that of the polycentric structure and multiplicity. Polycentricicity exists when instead of one central force and beginning there are two (or more), so the participant has to make meaning out of (for example) two streams of structures simultaneously. Cinematically this can be seen in experimental films and more recently within Hollywood releases like Traffic [78] and before that Time Code [79]. In these instances the screen is divided and different narratives are simultaneously relayed with or without intersecting causal moments.
 
A clear example of polycentric structures can be found in randomised hypermedia. These structures can have various programmed features such as conditional access -- where you can only travel a path if you have met the right conditions e.g. travelled the right combinations of paths. Or similarly, the structure can have randomised elements where the same points in the structure yield different paths on any re-usage. Another and rarer element is that the structure has options for the participant to add data, words, images or sounds directly into the core structure. This feature can be called textonic [Aarseth 1997]. Similar to textonic (see below) structures, "clever" hypermedia structures can monitor your choices and allow you to review your path, or can, on a return visit, create a new bespoke experience by blocking the previous paths. Unlike dual or split screen structures, these random/conditional/textonic hypermedia forms are utilised by the hypertext field and to a lesser extent with Internet artists. Within these relatively open descriptions of structures, it is often the case that these polycentric objects in their sub sections contain recognisable linear sequences and or indeed branching trees, thus creating a hybrid structure. This treatment can lead us into a rhizome like structure if sufficiently complex and / or generative.

 

Rhizome

Is typically understood as having no governing point or central organisation. It has multiple entrances and exits. If one of its links are broken, it will continue to exist and spread. Rhizome is regarded as an ultimate example of multiplicity. The term rhizome is traditionally used in describing specific types of botanical roots, whereas the term has been appropriated by postmodernist and cyber theorists as a symbol of the digital organic complexities as seen within our modern existence. An example of a contemporary rhizome structure is the ever-evolving co-linking growth of the Internet. Another might be the evolution of a cosmopolitan city, where outside the original "planned" paths the growing population in turn add and create their own paths as they travel around their homes and in and about the city.

 

Videogame structures

These are typically unlike the complex and randomised structures of hypermedia, and more akin to the limited branching tree, where all the paths are pre-determined (non-evolving) and disguised as being more complex by the graphics and pitch of game play. Via a series of prompts and narrative clues, the participant is normally guided along the path to the climatic finale. Video games are in essence centred structures, anchored by linear "cut scenes" of narrative action (Full Motion Video Clips). However, the linearity is often challenged by offering different conclusions based on the paths chosen. Games also normally employ sophisticated AI (artificial intelligence) engines to calculate and then respond to the participant' s real-time actions. They often deliver demanding combatants. This dynamic tracking of the participant is distinctive to commercial videogames. One must note that different genres of videogames offer different levels of these elements, e.g. simulation games offer no set paths to follow, but expect textonic input from the participant to respond to the pre-set rules and thus the participant creates their own game.

1.15.2 Conclusion
In the broader context it has been accepted that "true" interactive narrative systems are at present a fallacy [80]. This in part comes from the biases in defining what is a worthy narrative experience in a responsive environment. In one corner, narrative should still adhere to the traditional dramatic arc and in another, narrative should be of a substance to challenge the canonical modernist texts. Also a significant issue -- is the complex level of programming required to support a fully interactive exchange [80].
A similarly exclusive treatment is found when theorists regard the subject matter and style of communication -- these normally have to adhere to the doctrines of high and not low e.g. entertainment tainted art. I believe that the main stay of successful visual cybertext or MSE production is the ability to create immersive visual trompe l'oeils, working with the participant's position and interpretation, creating the diametric feelings that s/he has power, ability and influence over the "text" and then realisations that s/he may have none at all.
Imposing the traditional dramatic arc isn't always necessary. Narrative can be parallel and loosely causal. The mode of interaction and the representational style of the narrative can cushion the lack of a standard arcing plot by being enticing, innovative and emotionally powerful. The archetypal interests in narrative events (the fabula [81]) -- even if they break away from using standardized formal cues -- are fundamentally what still attract both the practitioner and participant to these artefacts.
Theorists are preoccupied by the structural design. This is the way in which the interaction happens, for example, the links in a hypertext novel. In my opinion, this has led to their neglect of the visual aesthetics of allurement, the visual cues or tropes have been made secondary.
In summary, I propose that structural design should not be treated as all-important. At least equal precedence should be given to the way the artist produces the work, the rationale behind it, and the way the participant is involved. I argue that an important way to extract and examine this level of information, of insight, is to source it directly from the practitioner. As such a practitioner, I aim to undertake a body of work with extended production notes and complement this material with feedback from more objective expert participants to reveal practice based and rich primary source material.
 
This phase of the research is framed by the research question:
B How does the artist develop an interactive style and visual vocabulary, which evokes rich responses from the participants whilst challenging them to counter conventional interaction tropes?
Expansion
 

 

 
  1. Arrival of the PDP-1 minicomputer at MIT and subsequent creation of SpaceWar is well described in Steven, 1984.
 
2. And of course for some the consumption of online pornography.

   

3.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) A chat protocol, which allows servers worldwide to link and allow for users to access them with special software and chat (type back and forth) in real time.

MUDs (Multiple User Dimension, Multiple User Dungeon, or Multiple user Dialogue) and MOOs (MUD Object Orientated): are computer programs users log into and explore. Each user takes control of a computerized persona, avatar, incarnation, or character. One can walk around, chat with other characters, explore, solve problems, and even create ones own rooms, descriptions and items.

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) is the most common format for text files in computers and on the Internet. ASCII Art is the drawing of pictures and designs on a computer, using only ASCII characters. ASCII art appears a lot in text-based media, where other graphic images cannot be shown.

HTML stands for "Hyper Text Markup Language" by embedding control characters in a file you can determine the way text, images, and links are shown in a World Wide Web document.

Flash is a multimedia technology developed by Macromedia to allow interactivity and animation within a relatively small file size. Flash contains is own programming language "Actionscript" as well as a powerful vector based (opposed to Bitmap) drawing and animation toolbox.

     

4.

Weblogs or "Blogs" as a new phenomena appeared around 1999. This "blogging" explosion is much attributed to the easy to use and free authoring tools such as Blogger (blogger.com ) and Pitas (pitas.com ).
Blogs tend to be communal portals for discussion in which an individual author/editor "posts" subjects / topics for discussion and "members" can then in turn post replies. The most simple criterion for what a blog is, is that the website consists of dated entries, though most blogs contain hyperlinks, commentaries, personal notes and are updated frequently - often at a daily rate.

Examples of personal blogs:
Williams, Evan, http://www.evhead.com

Hourihan, Meg, http://www.megnut.com

Walker, Jill, http://huminf.uib.no/~jill

Pax, Salam, http://dear_raed.blogspot.com

Costikyan, Greg http://www.costik.com/weblog

Examples of community blogs:
http://www.metafilter.com
http://www.gamegirladvance.com

  5. Being 'avant-garde' implies futurity - change by disturbing the status quo. Status quo can be located in many arenas such as the art world as a marketplace. In this instance avant-garde within the Internet is represented by the anti-commercial, fanzine and co-operative cultures, which since "...the 1990s threatened the entire system of information dispersal, ownership, and control [Betancourt 2002]." Similarly the association of avant-garde and its emphasis on experimentation vs. formal traditionalism -- as typified by the French Salon circa 1860s -- can be seen not only within the conceptual ideas covering content and criticism but also in the technological tools and programming used to access new methods of experimentation. Specifics of a new media avant-garde as Manovich [Avant-garde as Software 1999] proposes are the computer-led access, manipulation and analysis of information. "The new media avant-garde is about new ways of accessing and manipulating information. Its techniques are hypermedia, databases, search engines, data mining, image processing, visualization, simulation."
 

 

6.

Aarseth's typology
User function: explorative, configurative, interpretative, textonic.

Aarseth, E., Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature, p 64, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, (1997).

     
7. Hyperfiction Theory and closure
 

 

Much of hypertext theory deals with hypertext fictions' unique resistance to conventional readerly closure (e.g. Afternoon by Joyce). This is much discussed and sited in the practice of reading non-linear texts by hypertext theorist Jane Yellowlees Douglas see:
[Douglas 1994; p.159-88]
[Douglas 2000]
     
8. Although there are no solid definitions of post-modernism, its attributes are generally understood to be: re-use, appropriation, media-critique, re-presentation, cut-up, deconstruction, ambiguity, fragmentation, surface, mini -narratives, androgyny, metatextuality and self-reflexivity. The post-modern ethos resists unified, all-encompassing, and universally valid explanations.
     
9. Dense Communication. Please Note the following has been previously published by the author in On The Horizon (International Journal) - ISSN: 1074-8121, in the: Special Issue on Games, Simulations and Interactive Media in Learning Contexts. Paper title: Visual Literacy and Learning: Finding some online territories for the slow learner. May, 2004.
     
    The balance between close connection of the sign vehicle and signified concept can be seen as a two contrasting axes: at the far end we can interpret with certainty (specific, denotative, deduction) to the other pole where we cannot interpret with ease due to ambiguity (vague, connotative).

Certainty <--------------------------------------------------------------> Vague

   
    In general non-pictorial icons (letters) have fixed and absolute meanings. The letterform "a" will always be understood as meaning "a", though when combined with a "c" and "t" its forms the word "cat" referring to a furry friend. If the string is broken down the letter "a" is still recognisable, however if it is distorted by illegibility or by the method of presentation e.g. hand drawn or part of a kinetic animation, the perceived meaning moves more towards the ambiguous nature of abstracted visual marks.
    Such marks are the constituent elements of an image. Broken down they are often meaningless squiggles, dots and lines. Though once fully re-constructed, the image has the ability to be understood with certainty and to speak to the reader in a much more direct manner (note the adage a picture can tell a thousand words). We need very little formal education to understand pictures when they are specific (such as a photograph). Modern society's proliferation of image-based and time based communication allows for an ever more sophisticated understanding of complex images turning pictures into visual icons. The traditional opposition of text as perceived (learned) and image as received has blurred. Today we often see pictorial icons with illegible text, a crossover instigated in and by contemporary culture. An example of this occurrence is the "technotext" Lexia to Perplexia by Talan Memmott (2000).
    Understanding signs in an interactive environment demands more perception/more commitment, as the structure and rules of behaviour tend not to be standardized or taught to us at a young age. Physical (onscreen movement or point and click) as well as mental action enables this accommodation, this learning. The visual signs allow a more immediate immersion, freeing up our cognitive energy to perceive the rules. The viewers enter into a kind of discourse with the expression, becoming active participants in the exchange, facilitating their own cognitive growth through trial and error. The danger with offering both dynamic content as well as an experimental or unrecognised visual style is that the user may be overwhelmed and vertigo/confusion can take over. It could be argued that the experimental interactive environments of this nature do not allow any common points of entry and thus are elite, excluding many participants apart from the niche, masochistic or the most determined.
     
10.

HCI is an abbreviation of Human-Computer Interface.
[Shneiderman 1998; p. 638]

    Human-computer interaction is a discipline concerned with the design, evaluation and implementatin of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them.
    Human-computer interaction arose as a field in the early 1960s from intertwined roots in computer graphics, operating systems, human factors, ergonomics, industrial engineering, cognitive psychology, and the systems part of computer science. Alongside information visualization, another predominant area of study is the computer interface (GUI - Graphical User Interface) as experienced in commercial software packages, information driven websites, various computer operating systems, auto tellers, GUIs are present in any instance of interactive screen based communication with a human user
    The ultimate goal of HCI is to enable fluid or intuitive interactions with the particular computer system in question. In this fluid state the user would not have to think about what menu to choose, or which mouse button to click, but could naturally and fluently perform the necessary actions to achieve their goals - the interface would then become transparent.
    This ultimate goal is broken down into eight golden rules of HCI:
1. Strive for consistency.
2. Provide shortcuts for experts.
3. Offer informative feedback.
4. Ensure closure of tasks.
5. Avoid user errors.
6. Provide easy reversal of actions.
7. Support user control.
8. Reduce memory load.
     
11. Commercial websites
    Similar to the eight golden rules of HCI (see above), commercial websites strive to attain the user's attention, satisfaction and return custom. This is normally achieved by using a clear and standardized or hierarchical graphic layout that uses logical menu systems, sitemaps (to enable a complete overview) resulting in consistent, intuitive and transparent interaction. Also of importance is that the website has a fast download time and has a high level of cross browser, plug-in and platform compatibility.
    The Webby Awards (www.webbyawards.com) are used as a benchmark in identifying the best of the Internet. They use an expert panel and a user vote to award their prizes. For the commerce category the winners were seen to be:
2004 (panel) www.apple.com/itunes/store/shop.html
2004 (users) www.ebay.com
2003 (panel) www.amazon.com
2003 (users) ditto
2002 (panel) www.idealist.org
2002 (users) ditto
2001 (panel) www.travelocity.com
2001 (users) www.cafepress.com
2000 (panel) www.babycenter.com
2000 (users) www.amazon.com
1999 (panel) www.amazon.com
1999 (users) www.ebay.com
*Note no commerce section in the years 1998 and 1997
.
     
12. Ulm, Josh, digital artist, Flash Forward Conference, New York, (2001).
Available in electronic format:
http://www.ioresearch.com/
http://www.theremediproject.com
     
13. Cracks and crevices- the interstitial
    Stuart Moulthrop is a digital practitioner of classical hypertext fictions such as Victory Garden (1991) The Colour of Television (1996; with Sean Cohen), Hegirascope (1995/1997), and Reagan Library (1999). As well as in his body of artworks, Moulthrop has shown in his numerous essays and talks that he is interested in both the broader changes in literacy and fiction and the possible implications that hypertext and the Internet have on our cultural landscape.
    Moulthrop at the Digital Arts and Culture Conference 2001 prominently used the term "interstitial", in his closing keynote speech. It was from his observation of the contemporary practices and the participant's experience of new media art and cybertexts (especially Riven, by Miller & Miller, 1997) that he reapplied the term interstitial. Originally it was used by Michael Joyce in Of Two Minds, 1995. Moulthrop appropriated interstitial to describe works that are inherently "difficult", and whereby interstitial artists are imbued with a "trickster spirit"-- referring in particular to John McDaid, Noah Wardrip-Fruin and the conference based "readings" of John Cayley, Jim Rosenberg, Judd Morrissey, and Lori Talley.
    Moulthrop's use of the term is an evolution from Joyce's, in that Joyce used interstitial to describe the more stylistically obscure sections of his book that were placed between two or more focused sections of writing. When I asked Moulthrop to expand upon his motivation in using the term interstitial, he replied:
    "To me, Michael's usage always seemed more than arbitrary or technical, really almost metaphysical or spiritual -- as if the standing-between stood for something deeply related to the truth or purpose of what we were doing with hypertext, where as I take it we are always betweening something." (Moulthrop, email correspondence , 2004 )
     
    Moulthrop defines the interstitial:
    "At its most direct, interstitial design insists and expatiates upon the materiality of expression. It embodies precisely the opposite of "seeing through," in that it holds forth its own mediation, along with that of other texts, for relentless inspection. It does not take us beyond mediation into the pure and timeless realm of story. It does not lead to the Holodeck… Comics, games -- and, yes, experimental novels -- all occupy cultural interstices, tenuous gaps not covered by "comfortable old hierarchical" forms. What is a comic -- a novel with too many illustrations, or a very fast film? What is a [Cyan] game -- a novel with no characters, or a film with too many cuts? Interstitial fictions represent breaks in the illusion of necessity foisted by major media forms. They reveal unauthorized vectors; they make us aware of interfaces, of media, of different ways to go. All of which may be meaningful..."
Moulthrop, Gamely Interstitial, Narrative, Excess, and Artifactual Interstanding, 1999.
     
    "In phenomena like comics and adventure games, or for that matter in imaginative cybertexts and unconventional novels and films, we may be seeing the emergence of a fictive sensibility more finely attuned to gaps, inconsistencies, tensions, and fissures than to unbroken traditional lines."
Moulthrop, Misadventure: Future Fiction and the New Networks, 1999.
     
    The Moulthrop definition of interstitial art is that it exists in the interstices (spaces between), and capable of binding two or more things together. Closely linked to this interstitial is the term "inter-standing" as discussed by Mark Taylor and Esa Saarinen in Imagologies:
     
    "When depth gives way to surface, under-standing becomes inter-standing. To comprehend is no longer to grasp what lies beneath but to glimpse what lies between.... Understanding has become impossible because nothing stands under. Interstanding has become unavoidable because everything stands between." Taylor & Saarinen 1994, p. Interstanding 1.
     
    Though in its nature not fixed, the term interstitial suggests celebrating all practices that fall between currently established genres and forms, one example could be -- practice that can be said to problematise the labels of fiction and non-fiction, games and art. The artworks located in this thesis can be said to be interstitial practice.
     
14. RedRidingHood is an early interactive animation. Launched in December 2000, its remit was to draw new audience types to the medium of interactive storytelling. Its narrative is a retelling of the familiar fairytale. Below is a sample list of the departments who have or had used the project as curriculum:
     
    School of Literature Communication and Culture, Georgia Tech, Ivan Ellen College, USA.
     
    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Florida, USA.
Available in electronic format, see: http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/cmartin/ENC1102/ENC1102%20Syllabus.htm
     
    Networked Writing Environment, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Florida, USA. Available in electronic formats, see:
http://www.nwe.ufl.edu/~jdouglas/
http://web.nwe.ufl.edu/~jdouglas/interactive_fiction.html
     
    Sarah Lawrence College, NYC, USA.
Available in electronic format, see:
http://pages.slc.edu/~strickla/
     
    University of Denver, USA.
Available in electronic format, see:
http://www.du.edu/~treddell/4850/04_calendar.htm
     
    University of Arizona, The Center for Computing & Information Technology, USA. Available in electronic format, see: http://www.u.arizona.edu/~kimmehea/svrhet/cs.htm
     
    Illinois State University English Department, USA.
Available in electronic format, see:
http://www.english.ilstu.edu/351/fall2003/edge.html
     
    Department of Humanities at Michigan Technological University, USA.
     
15. "Eloquence is being redefined. "Text" has lost its canonical certainty. How does one judge, analyze, write about a work that never reads the same way twice? And what of narrative flow? There is still movement, but in hyperspace's dimensionless infinity, it is more like endless expansion; it runs the risk of being so distended and slackly driven as to lose its centripetal force, to give way to a kind of static low-charged lyricism -- that dreamy gravityless lost-in-space feeling of the early sci-fi films. How does one resolve the conflict between the reader's desire for coherence and closure and the text's desire for continuance, its fear of death? Indeed, what is closure in such an environment? If everything is middle, how do you know when you are done, either as reader or writer? If the author is free to take a story anywhere at any time and in as many directions as she or he wishes, does that not become the obligation to do so?" [Coover June 21,1992]
     
16. The normative definition of "utopia", is an imaginary state with perfect political and social conditions where sexual and racial imbalances are banished. A place where conglomerate and capitalist machines cannot function, an eradication of rich and poor. Digital utopia, as instigated by the swell of Internet users in the early 1990's, refers to the belief in a global situation of non-discriminatory and networked communities as possible online. This ideology resurrects the idea of Marshall McLuhan and his notion of a "Global Village".
This politic has been notably discussed by:
[Lewis 1999]
[Negroponte 1995]
    In recent years the notion has come under much criticism, mainly because the global distribution of information technology is grossly uneven (between the west and the rest of the world), making for what has come to be called the digital divide. Furthermore, the IT (information technology) situation is seen by some to be dangerous to the very fabric of our physical community. The idea of digital utopia is in fact a real and present digital dystopia, see:
    Frank, Thomas, (2000) One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy, New York: Doubleday
    Boggs, Carl (2000) The End of Politics: Corporate Power and the Decline of the Public Sphere, New York: The Guilford Press.
     
17 The resurgence of electronic textual poetics
    The terms "ergodic poetry", "cyber textual poetry", "digital poetry", "electronic poetry", "e-poetry" or "computer-generated writing" are used to refer to the digital practices of innovative and often interactive poetry rather than to what might be called academic, formal, or traditional forms of poetry. This can range from simple hypertext structures, highly reactive visual/kinetic texts, ASCII art through to writing in networked and programmable media.
    In tandem with the growth of hypertext fiction and net art, the 1990s saw a resurgence of experimental and verbalised poetry (sited in concrete/performance poetry groups and the Black Mountain School of the 1950s). Practitioners such as John Cayley, Simon Biggs, and Jim Andrews are still actively producing and generating a dialogue around such practices. For electronic texts, see:
Cayley, John, http://www.shadoof.net/
Biggs, Simon http://www.littlepig.org.uk
Andrews, Jim, http://.www.vispo.com/
    In 1996, New York based visual artist, and writer DJ Kenneth Goldsmith started the UbuWeb as a place to easily locate such work. UbuWeb is the largest resource for the sound/concrete/cyber poetry on the net today.
For a list of contemporary artists see: http://www.ubu.com/artist_index.html
     
18. The Death of hypertext fiction?
    In 1998 the culture of disillusionment or cynicism was rife with statements such as "Interactive fiction is mostly a fiction- great concept what about the demo models" [Niesz & Holland 1984].
     
19. Rise of "Flash Art"
    The rise of artistic e.g, non-commercial usage of Flash practice is marked by the release of Flash version 3.0 (1999) and onwards. This practice was supported by a crop of prestigious contests and festivals (see below).
    2000 - pres The Flash Forward festivals are sponsored by Macromedia.
Available in electronic format: http://www.flashforward2004.com
2000 - pres OFFF, The Online Flash Film Festival is this year sponsored by Diesel and MediaTemple
2001 - 2002 The Idn Conferences or Fresh conferences are sponsored by Adobe, Mackintosh and Macromedia. Available in electronic format: http://www.freshconference.com
2001 - pres Flash In The Can, the Canadian Flash festival is this year sponsored by Macromedia, Humber, and MediaTemple. Available in electronic format: http://www.flashinthecan.com
2002 - pres The French Flash Festival hosted this year at the Pompidou centre Paris is sponsored in part by Macromedia. Available in electronic format: http://www.flashfestival.net/2004
2002 Madrettor the Rotterdam new media festival had no corporate sponsorship. Available in electronic format: http://www.madrettor.org (offline)
    Outside of being shown within the festivals and online on the festival websites,Flash as a technology has semi-successfully impacted the fields of broadcast television (see: kerb.co.uk and their work for cable channel Bravo.co.uk ) and more successfully, developed content for Pocket IE (the pc pocket book interface browser (Bill Perry at pocketpcflash.net ) and in the design of the new generation mobile phone interfaces (Hoss Gifford at flamjam.com ).
     
20. The World Economic Forum (WEF) report titled 'Global diffusion of ICT,' reports that of the 6.2 billion people in the world, 1 in every 5 people is a cellular mobile subscriber, against only 1 in every 12 people three years ago. The number of cellular mobile subscribers at 1.15 billion outstrips the 1.10 billion landlines in operation.
    Available in electronic format:
http://www.domainb.com/economy/general/200401jan/20040127_wef_report.html
     
21. The Ascendancy of ludlology
    Though older in origin, the modern usage of the term was first coined by Gonzalo Frasca in his paper Ludology meets Narratology Similitude and differences between (video) games and narrative (1999).
Available in electronic format: http://www.ludology.org/articles/ludology.htm
    Game studies and ludology have created a new generation of academics who devote themselves to analysing video/computer games. Rejecting the stigma that games are not intellectual, researchers around the world are making computer games the subject of serious academic pursuit alongside literature, music and art. In recent years universities have reflected this development by starting Ph.D. programs, research centres and online journals.
    Notable Example:
Center for Computer Games Research IT University of Copenhagen was founded in Spring 2003, amongst its faculty are key ludology researchers, Dr. Espen Aarseth , Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Gonzalo Frasca,
Dr. Jesper Juul, Lisbeth Klastrup and Dr. Susana Tosca. Available in electronic format: http://game.itu.dk/ .
    Other examples of academic departments researching computer games:
Georgia Tech graduate program in digital media directed by Janet Murray.
Available in electronic format: http://www.grad.gatech.edu/admissions/programs/iac/digital_media.html
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Comparative Media Studies program headed by Henry Jenkins. Available in electronic format: http://web.mit.edu/cms
     
  Ludology blogs and websites, available in electronic formats:
Digital Games Research Association, http://www.digra.org/
Gonzalo Frasca, http://www.ludology.org/
Peer reviewed critical website , http://www.gamestudies.org
http://www.game-culture.com/
http://www.igda.org
http://terranova.blogs.com/
http://www.gamegirladvance.com/
http://www.grandtextauto.org
http://www.jesperjuul.dk/ludologist/
http://www.costik.com/weblog/
http://terranova.blogs.com/
..
     
22. Wardrip-Fruin, N., Montfort, N., The New Media Reader, Cambridge (Mass): MIT, (2003).
23. In the context of this thesis the word 'rich' primarily means significant and meaningful opposed to intuitive and commonplace communicative exchange. Secondly, 'rich' appropriately connotates notions of sumptuousness and pungency, in other words experiences relating to the stimulation of one or more human senses.
 
     
24. Text Dominance
    The dependence on the stability of meaning within verbalised forms has a stronger linage than with pictorial forms. When we "read" text we generally expect closure, whereas with the electronic inter-textuality and its traits of simultaneity, spatiality and movement (traits more commonly associated with the visual arts) this reading is fundamentally different and requires interpretive skills akin with reading experimental poetry or literature, skills which are broadly not populist. Whereas the visual equivalents, semi-abstracted film & animation (although still not common reading skills), are more easily engaged with as a different type of reading takes place -- a non fixed reception of the image, where importantly the reception is more socially acceptable.
     
25. "Wreader" [Landow 1994], "Vuser" [Seaman 2000].
     
26. Friedman (1995) claimed the "perpetual continual feedback loop" between human computer interaction is seminal in constructing that essential immersion within the gaming experience.
     
27. Flash is a multimedia technology developed by Macromedia to allow interactivity and animation within a relatively small thus Internet streamable file size. Flash contains is own programming language Actionscript as well as a powerful vector based (opposed to Bitmap) drawing and animation toolbox. Macromedia Flash 3.0 (1998-9) is the earliest version of the software to impact on the design and art community (the first ever version was Flash 1.0 in 1996, previously named FutureSplash Animator). Flash 4.0 (1999) offered a more sophisticated interface for timeline manipulation and programming. Flash 5 (2000) consolidated the software as a powerful animation and programming tool. The most recent version - MX (Flash 6) has broadened its range of features into video manipulation and database programming.
    The Macromedia Flash "player" allows Internet users to view and interact with Flash content. This plugin is free to download. Recent figures show that 98% of users have the player installed on their computers. Available in electronic format, see: http://www.macromedia.com/software/flashplayer
     
28. Bad Flash
    The first generation of Flash circa 1998/9 - 2000 were famed for garish colours, bad usability (without being intentionally subversive), and the infamous "Intro Scene", complete with "skip intro" button.
On the back of such practices came the "Flash: 99% Bad" article by Jakob Nielsen (2000)
Original article available in electronic format: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20001029.html
    Then in retaliation, Kevin Airgid and information architect Stephanie Reindel launched -"Flash 99% Good: A Guide to Macromedia Flash Usability", associated website available in electronic format: http://www.flash99good.com/ (2002)
    For general website design crimes see the website by Vincent Flanders, available in electronic format: http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com
     
29. Grown-up Flash practice
    Paterson, James & Pitaru, Amit, available in electronic format: http://www.insertsilence.com
Franceschini, Amy & Olm, Josh, available in electronic format: http://www.futurefarmers.com
Stumpo, Nikola, available in electronic format: http://www.abnormalbehaviorchild.com
Hoogerbrugge, Han, available in electronic format: http://www.hoogerbrugge.com
Jugovic, Alexandria & Schmitt, Florian, available in electronic format: http://www.hi-res.net , http://www.donniedarko.com
     
30. Frasca, Simulation 101: Simulation versus Representation, 2001.
     
31. From a transcript of an interview with Hiroshi Yamauchi, (note: original no longer available). Excerpts available in electronic format: http://www.kanga.nu/archives/MUD-Dev-L/2001Q1/msg01111.php (February 2001)
     
32. Habbo Hotel (2001), winner of the 2003 Prix Ars Electronica - Net Vision award, is an Internet based virtual hotel designed for 14 to 20 year olds in the UK. Once you log in you can explore and interact with the other residents of the hotel. Habbo Hotel is made using Macromedia Director, is operated and owned by Habbo Ltd / Sulake. Available as electronic text: http://www.habbohotel.co.uk/habbo/en/
     
33. Manovich, Generation Flash, Postscript: On The Lightness of Flash, 2002.
    Examples of the flash neo-minimal aesthetic, for electronic texts, see:
Davis, Joshua,
http://www.praystation.com
http://www.singlecell.org/june/index.html (June 2001)

Tan, Manny,
http://www.uncontrol.com

     
34. Aesthetics of the technology
    Mez (Mary-Anne Breeze), _the data][h!][bleeding texts_, electronic text, see:
http://netwurkerz.de/mez/datableed/complete/index.htm
Amerika, Mark, Film Text 2.0, electronic text, see: http://www.markamerika.com/filmtext
     
35. Reactive physical performative codes
    Typographic Tree, by Digit, is an interactive installation, which via a small signpost invites participants to sing to mushrooms, which sit on top of a tree stump. As soon as a participant begins, a digital tree begins to grow using nothing but the tone and volume of their voice they can control every aspect of the tree's growth. It's size, complexity, colour and even the amount of flowers in bloom.
    Typographic Tree was exhibited at ICA, London, UK, (November, 2001) and The Media Centre, Huddersfield, UK, (July, 2002). Documentation available in electronic format:
http://www.digitfeed.com
    A modified version of Pagan Poetry, by James Paterson and Amit Pitaru was performed at Flashforward Amsterdam (November, 2001). In this version their animation responded to volume and pitch instead of the participant's investigation. With a baby grand on the stage Pitaru played some improvised jazz piano and their animation responded to the volume and key of his live performance. Original version available as electronic text at: http://www.insertsilence.com
     
36. Post-digital and post-contemporary paradigms
    Post-digital refers to works that rejects the hype of the digital revolution, e.g. the familiar digital tropes of purity, pristine sound and images and perfect copies are abandoned in favour of errors, glitches and artefacts [Cascone 2000].
    Post-conceptual refers to work where there is no distinction between works of self-expression and works of social critique e.g. they are part and parcel of the same activity and they stand alone. Post-conceptual is associated with the anti-theory turn in art production of the mid to late 1990s. This paradigm abandons much of post-modernism's practices e.g. of re-use, appropriation, media-critique, re-presentation, cut-up, "deconstruction".
     
37. Pencil and paper role-playing
    A role-playing game (RPG) is a type of collaborative and interactive game where players assume the role of a fictional character, via associative role-playing. A GM (games master) will normally control and create the narrative world's parameters, in association with the other players. Polyhedral dice are used to create statistics such as strength, dexterity, intelligence and charm of the characters.
     
38. The Choose Your Own Adventure series set the standard for basic-level gamebooks. The series started in 1979 and includes 184 books. No new books have been released since July 1998, and the entire series is now out of print. For a list and description of the series see the electronic text: http://www.gamebooks.org/cyoalist.htm
     
39. Sample of post -modernist / ergodic printed texts
Johnson 1969.
Pavic 1990.
Nabokov 1962.
Queneau 1961.
    Post- modernism: although there are no solid definitions of post-modernism, its attributes are generally understood to be: re-use, appropriation, media-critique, re-presentation, cut-up, deconstruction, ambiguity, fragmentation, surface, mini -narratives, androgyny, metatextuality and self-reflexivity. The post-modern ethos resists unified, all-encompassing, and universally valid explanations.
     
40. Sample of Aarseth's examples of cybertexts
    Adventure: One of the key texts in this study, is the role-playing game Adventure , by William Crowther and Don Woods, released on the U.S. research network ARPANet, the precursor of the Internet, in April 1976. As the microcomputer home market exploded around 1980, Adventure was made available on nearly every type of machine and became the first in a short-lived, but influential, textual computer game genre, which ended its commercial life when the graphic adventure games took over in the late eighties.
    Racter: A computer authoring narrative machine, speech engine and Artificial Intelligence, designed by William Chamberlain, (1984). Chamberlain claims Racter wrote the mystery story "The Policeman's Beard". It was argued under inspection that Chamberlain wrote (at least partially) it himself.
    Tale-spin: In the seventies, some artificial intelligence researchers focused on making systems that could analyse and write stories. A well-known project was James Meehan's program Tale-spin, which could construct simple animal fables of the Æsop type. Primarily, the researchers were not trying to achieve literary quality, and the stories that were produced typically testify to this lack of ambition. However, some of the "failures" produced by Tale-spin make strikingly original prose, succeeding where the successes failed.
    MUDs (Multiple User Dimension, Multiple User Dungeon, or Multiple user Dialogue) and MOOs (MUD Object Orientated), see reference number 3
    I Ching: An example of Cybertext in antiquity is the Chinese text of oracular wisdom, the I Ching (Wilhelm 1989). Also known as the Book of Changes, the existing text is from around the time of the Western Chou dynasty (1122-770 B.C.)
    A Much simpler example of a non-linear text is Guillaume Apollinaires Calligrammes from early in this century (Apollinaire 1966).
 
41. Hypertext fiction
    Often textual but can have multimedia elements. Based on the original concept "hyperlink": "let me introduce the word 'hypertext'* to mean a body of written or pictorial material interconnected in such a complex way that it could not conveniently be presented or represented on paper. (* the sense of 'hyper-' used here connotes extension and generality; cf. 'hyperspace.')" Ted Nelson, 1965 (National Conference of the Association for Computing Machinery)
    Hypertext fiction normally presents information as a linked network of nodes which readers are free to navigate in a non-linear fashion. It allows for multiple authors, a blurring of the author and reader functions, extended works with diffuse boundaries, and multiple reading paths.
    Hypertext fiction was originally created using the Storyspace software (sold by Eastgate systems since 1989) or HyperCard by Apple (recently discontinued). The sale of Storyspace for academic/ artistic use still continues today.
42. "While definitions and categories may be helpful in identifying certain distinguishing characteristics of a medium, they can also be dangerous in setting up predefined limited for approaching and understanding an art form, particularly when it is still constantly evolving, as is the case with digital art." [Paul 2003; p.8]
    Paul also claims that she doesn't believe that digital art will gain a mass or populist audience; she speculates that digital art may achieve a position in culture similar to that of video art (see the practices of Nam June Paik, 1967 - pres and Bill Viola, 1976 - pres).
     
43. Frasca, Ludology meets Narratology: Similitude and differences between (video)games and narrative , 2001.
     
44. [Manovich, Post-media Aesthetics, 2001]
     
45. Observations from Flash Forward Amsterdam 2001
    Davis, Joshua, one-man research and development web site, electronic text, see:
http://www.praystation.com/

Paterson, James, electronic text, see:
http://www.presstube.com/

Pitaru, Amit, electronic text, see:
http://www.pitaru.com/
Paterson, & Pitaru, Pagan Poetry, electronic text, see:
http://www.insertsilence.com/
http://www.showstudio.com/projects/031/031_interactive.html

     
46. [Manovich , Data Art, 2002]
     
47. Lisa Jevbratt, 1:1(1999) electronic text, see: http://c5corp.com/1to1/
Part of the Net art at the Whitney Biennale 2002, available in electronic format:
    http://www.whitney.org/artport/exhibitions/biennial2002/jevbratt.shtml
 
48. Vector
    A vector image is one of the two major graphic types (the other being bitmap). Vector graphics are made up of many individual objects. Each of these objects can be defined by mathematical statements and has individual properties assigned to it such as colour, fill, and outline. Vector graphics are resolution independent because they can be output to the highest quality at any scale.
    Software used to create vector graphics is referred to as object-based editing software. Common vector formats include AI (Adobe Illustrator), SWF (Shockwave Flash (Macromedia)), and DXF (AutoCAD and other CAD software). Vector graphics almost always have much smaller file sizes than raster-based bitmaps.
     
49. Ryan, in gamestudies.org , July 2001.
     
50. "To me, the maintenance of some kind of narrative, and consequently linear coherence is crucial to whether new media literature will remain an academic fad, or will reach the wider audience of the educated public."
    Excerpt from Marie-Laure Ryan's reply post (May 28, 2003 05:34 PM) on grandtextauto.org , available in electronic format: http://steel.lcc.gatech.edu/grandtextauto/archives/000022.html
     
51. Note the book is almost verbatim her PhD thesis from 1991: Print Pathways and Electronic Labyrinths (New York University), thus the study is older than the date of publication would suggest.
Douglas, End of Books or Books without end?, 2000.
     
52. There is a continuing scarcity of examples due to recent trends in new media art. The majority of the available examples concentrate on abstract visualization and looping experimental visual forms and not sequential or narrative structures, available as electronic texts:
Tan, Manuel, http://www.uncontrol.com
Brown, Daniel, http://www.play-create.com/pieces/flowers.html
Stearns, Jeff, http://www.deconcept.com

Manovich, (2002) Generation Flash, Postscript: On The Lightness of Flash: Turntable and Flash Remixing.

     
53. New Wave Hypertext Fiction
[Joyce 1999].
[Coverley 1997- Ongoing].
[Montfort & Gillespie 2000].
[Memmot 2000].
     
54. There has been an increasing trend of native net practice and videogames being recognised and exhibited both online and offline by established contemporary galleries. Below is a selection of instances:

Joshua Davis (praystation) retrospective at the Institute of Contemporary Art, January -February 2003, London. Available in electronic format: http://www.ica.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=11003

Whitney Museum, New York, Artport (2002) is the Whitney Museum's portal to net art and digital arts. Available in electronic format: http://www.whitney.org/artport/

GameOn showed at the Barbican Gallery, May 16th to September 15th 2002; then the Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh from October 2002 to February 2003; and then to venues in Europe, America and Japan.

Digital Flash and lingo artists Yugo Nakamura, Daniel Brown, Joshua Davis, collaborators James Paterson and Amit Pitaru, Tomato, showed at The Design Museum Web Wizards, 30 November 2001-21 April 2002, London.

Hypertext, game and visual artists Dane, Judd Morrissey, Donna Leishman, Michael Mittelman and Megan Hurst exhibited Internet projects at DeCordova Museum (Boston), in the exhibition Web Racket, June 8 - September 1, 2002. Available in electronic format: http://www.decordova.org/decordova/exhibit/webracket/Default02.htm

Barcelona Internet pioneers Jodi.org (Untitled Game), at the Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Art's re-opening exhibition Words & Things, October-December 2001

Since 2001, the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis has had an extensive program exhibiting digital art.
Available in electronic format: http://www.walkerart.org/gallery9/

010101 : Art in Technological Times, is the SFMoMA's exhibition of web, installation, video, sound and digital artwork, 2001. Available in electronic format: http://010101.sfmoma.org/

     
55. Abstract Cinema formed a central strand of early American avant-garde filmmaking during the 1940s and1950s, particularly on the West Coast. Its non-objective colours, surfaces, and shapes create complex compositions of light in motion whose structures often echo those of music. In the work of Jordan Belson and James Whitney, cosmic principles found expression through the delicate vibrancy of light and abstract forms. Available in electronic format: http://www.iotacenter.org/calendar.html .
     
56.

Examples of pixel art and animation
Available in electronic format:
http://www.emogame.com
http://www.sissyfight.com
http://www.habbohotel.com
http://www.eboy.com
..

     
57. An enlightened primitivism in animation?
Available in electronic format:
http://www.mrandmrswheatley.co.uk
http://www.goultalightsgo.com
http://www.vectorpark.com
..
     
58. "Comics, games -- and, yes, experimental novels -- all occupy cultural interstices, tenuous gaps not covered by "comfortable old hierarchical" forms. What is a comic -- a novel with too many illustrations, or a very fast film? What is a [Cyan] game -- a novel with no characters, or a film with too many cuts? Interstitial fictions represent breaks in the illusion of necessity foisted by major media forms. They reveal unauthorized vectors; they make us aware of interfaces, of media, of different ways to go. All of which may be meaningful..." [Moulthrop, Gamely Interstitial, 1999].
     
59. "Comfortable old hierarchical forms" refers to "comfortable old hierarchical dominations to the scary new networks" [Haraway 1991, p.161].
 
60. Selected hypertext theory texts
Bolter, Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing, 1991.
Landow, Hyper/text/theory, 1994.
Landow, Hypertext 2.0: the convergence of contemporary critical theory and technology, 1992.
     
61. Selection of Ludology texts
Friedman 1998.
Costikyan 1994.
Crawford 1997.
Eskelinen 2001.
Aarseth 1997.
Murray1997.
Turkle1997
Ryan 1994.
Mateas2002.
Scholder & Zimmerman 2003
     
62. Untitled Game is a CD (and web site) containing twelve modifications of the videogame Quake by artist ensemble JODI (Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans). The modifications result in a deconstruction of the traditional visuals and sound into another sensory experience, one that often challenges perception and meaning as the game world is reduced from anti-aliased pixels and colour palettes to primary minimalist colours and shapes. For the downloadable electronic text, see: http://www.untitled-game.org/
 
63. The first generation of net artists, or "heroic" net artists,are generally accepted to be: Jodi.org, collaborative artists Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans - known for their explorations into the aesthetics of error.
Electronic text: http://www.jodi.org
Vuk Cosic the early pioneer of ASCII art. Electronic text: http://www.ljudmila.org/~vuk/
Alexei Shulgin- mixes music, art and contexts to question cultural situations (since 1995).
Electronic text: http:/www.easylife.org
Heath Bunting, environmental and Internet artist. Electronic text: http:/www.irational.org
.s
     
64. "The terminology for technological art forms has always been extremely fluid and what is now known as digital art has undergone several name changes since it first emerged: once referred to as 'computer art' (since the 1970s) and then 'multimedia art', digital art now takes its place under the umbrella term 'new media art' Paul 2003, p.7
     
65. Flash boys: Link to larger footnote
     
66. The Java applets of the media artist John Maeda (1996 - pres) are cited being the founding inspiration for programmatic visual artists; he is currently professor at MIT Media Laboratory.
Samples of his works are available in electronic formats, see: http://www.maedastudio.com/
     
67. Before these designer friendly "layman" programming languages such as Lingo and Actionscript were available, there was (and still exists) a history of more formal programming languages which stem from the 1950's with Fortran, Cobol, C++, C (1980s) Visual Basic (1990s), Java (1995), Java Script (1995), HTML 1992), XML, Perl (1987) and CGI.
     
68. Abstract data visualisation
The Secret Lives of Numbers, by Golan Levin (flong.com ), plots the popularity on the Internet of the numbers between zero and one million. Available as electronic text:
http://www.turbulence.org/Works/nums (2002)
     
    Carnivore by Radical Software Group (Alex Galloway) is a surveillance tool for data networks. At the heart of the project is CarnivorePE, a software application that listens to all Internet traffic (email, web surfing, etc.) on a specific local network. Its uses "clients" to animate, diagnose, or interpret the network traffic in various ways.
    The artistic clients /contributions are from: Limiteazero, Joshua Davis/Branden Hall/Shapeshifter, Mark Napier, Cory Arcangel, Mark Daggett, Scott Sona Snibbe, Entropy8Zuper!, Vuk Cosic, Golan Levin, MTAA, Lisa Jevbratt, Jonah Brucker-Cohen, RSG, The Witness, Marcos Weskamp, RSG and Area 3.

Available as electronic text: http://www.rhizome.org/carnivore/ (2002)

     
69. Developing artificial digital life forms
Singlecell by Tindall, James (www.atomless.com ).
Available as electronic text: http://www.singlecell.org/april/ (2001)
     
70. Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead are new media artists Thompson and Craighead (1991 -pres).
They are well known for their works such as Trigger Happy and E-Poltergeist, aesthetically their work utilises/subverts the language of Internet banner advertisements, animated GIFS, early text based games and the traditionally non-immersive experiences of search engines.

Their work is available in electronic format, see: http://www.thomson-craighead.net

     
71. Online there exists a particular strain of practices that play with real/false cyber identities e.g. the conversational system Eliza (www-ai.ijs.si/eliza/eliza.html ) and davidstill.org . One of the most prominent websites of this type is Mouchette .
    Mouchette.org is loosely-based on the 1937 book by Georges Bernanos and the 1967 Robert Bresson film. The website seems to expand upon the basic storyline of the film. The film portrays a girl suffering from the pains of abuse. According to her/his website, Mouchette is nearly 13 years old and lives in Amsterdam (he/she has been 13 for a few years now - the website has been online since 1996). You are asked to give him/her your e-mail address then he/she will invite you to partake in various events and forums.
    The true identity of the alter-ego behind Mouchette.org has been a closely guarded secret, and still is. By concealing his or her identity, the artist preserves the first-person nature of the site, thus enhancing the thematic power. In this manner, the artist provokes heated debates of contemporary political and sexual issues.
 
72. The Prix Ars Electronica is a yearly prize in the field of electronic and interactive art, computer animation, digital culture and music. It has been awarded since 1987 by Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), which is one of the world's major centres for art and technology.
    The Golden Nica (10,000 Euros), the highest prize, is awarded to six categories, one of which specifically relates to Internet based projects. In the categories "World Wide Web" (1995 - 96) and ".net" (1997 - 2000), interesting web-based projects were awarded, based on criteria like web-specificity, community-orientation, identity and interactivity. In 2001, the category became broader under the new name "Net Vision / Net Excellence", with rewards for innovation in the online medium.
    World Wide Web
1995 Idea Futures by Robin Hanson
1996 The Hijack project by etoy.net
1997 Sensorium by Taos Project
1998 IO_Dencies Questioning Urbanity by Knowbotic Research
1999 Linux by Linus Torvalds
2000 In the Beginning...was the Command Line (excerpts) by Neal Stephenson
Net Vision / Net Excellence
2001 Banja by Team cHmAn and PrayStation by Joshua Davis
2002 Carnivore by Radical Software Group and They Rule
by Josh On and Futurefarmers
2003 Habbo Hotel by Sulake Labs and Noderunner by Yury Gitman and Carlos J. Gomez de Llarena
2004 Creative Commons.org
73. The narrative in my practice can be said to be similar in the subject matter to the work of Entropy8Zuper! (Auriea Harvey, Michaël Samyn) which is often described as being old-fashioned in that it deals with human themes such as love, faith and war. Interestingly the aesthetic of my practice is drastically unlike that of Entropy8Zuper! .
74. Almost alone
Below are links to other visual practitioners who I felt had conceptual similarities and / or shared my visual style.
Ian D/Rolito, electronic text, see: http://www.rolitoland.com
Smith, Patrick, electronic text, see: http://www.vectorpark.com
Hanada, Kinya, electronic text, see: http://www.mumbleboy.com
Hanada, Kinya &Paek, Eun-Ha & Ackermann, Karl, electronic text, see: http://www.milkyelephant.com
Endo, Toshi, electronic text, see: http://www.safeplaces.net/sp.htm
Mitsuse, Naoki & Morisaki, Masaki & Mitsuru, Sunday & Takada, Mon, electronic text, see: http://www.goultralightsgo.com
  75. To allow or denial participant control
I subscribe to the likes of Aarseth who point out that ergodic texts are more limiting than linear books. In fact an intrinsic feature of non-linear texts is that they are less about freedom of choice but more about the limits of choice. Aarseth illustrates this by pointing out that the reader has complete access to the novel in their hands, and are free to read it in any sequence. However, in hypertexts the reader is constrained by conditional or randomised links.
76. "Instead of being gently initiated into point-and-click interactivity, readers were intimidated by the forbidding complexity of a maze that they had no fair chance of mastering. With the arrogance typical of so may avant-garde movements, hypertext authors worked from the assumption that audiences should be antagonized and stripped and stripped of any sense of security, rather than cajoled into new reading habits." [Ryan 2001;p.265]
77.

I Ching (Wilhelm 1989). Also known as the Book of Changes, the existing text is from around the time of the Western Chou dynasty (1122-770 B.C.)

Queneau 1961.

 
78. Soderbergh, Steven, (2001) Traffic.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh; written by Stephen Gaghan, based on "Traffik" created by Simon Moore,
Traffic used complex and fractured narrative structures that are initially tangled and as the film moves towards the conclusion the narrative threads become more (not completely) resolved and ordered.
     
79. Figgis, Mike, (2000) Time Code.
Director: Mike Figgis; screenwriter: Mike Figgis; producer: Annie Stewart.
Time Code plays on a quadruple-split screen, four separate stories unfold simultaneously in real-time, building to a final, climatic moment in which they all unexpectedly come together.
     
80. The normative definition of: "Truly interactive" denotes works that are made possible by a continuous feedback loop. That being: a participant who offers input into the programme, which will adjust what follows according to the participant's individual choice and ditto -- what follows is a loop of the previous exchanges -- ad infinitum. The output of which is a unique participant experience configured to his or her choices -- an experience that no one else will achieve.

Such a level of processing requires a complex and costly computerised parsing ability. Therefore feedback-looping artworks are at present extremely rare [for a rare example see Mateas2002]. Whereas the majority of artworks use pre-recorded or pre-organised content that are in turn called up as the participants make choices. Thus significantly more common than "true interactive texts" are structures that use forking paths and multiple-choices.

     
81. Fabula (the fable / the events).
The terms fabula and syuzhet were coined by the Russian Formalists (1910s - 1920s) see Victor Shklovsky, Boris Eichenbaum, Vladimir Propp, Yuri Tynianov and Roman Jakobson.

The fabula embodies the action as a chronological, cause-and-effect chain of events occurring within a given duration and a spatial field, while the 'syuzhet' (plot /discourse) is the actual arrangement and presentation of the fabula in the film/novel/animation.