Academic journal article Style

Loose Ends/Connections: Interactivity in Networked Space

Academic journal article Style

Loose Ends/Connections: Interactivity in Networked Space

Article excerpt

Questions

How many of us understand the complex set of interactions that make up a world scale network like the Internet? The hardware, the translation of digital data across physical distance, pulsations of light fed through fiber optic tubes on the bottom of the ocean, or transformed into invisible beams of electromagnetic energy beamed to floating reflectors hovering above the earth's atmosphere? [1]

Clearly not many of us.

Yet we come to understand this network as we project our sense of its usefulness onto it.

The business community has done this--the global network is a place to do business; it is useful for the development of new markets. Researchers have done this--it is a place for information gathering and exchange.

Artists, many of whom have operated initially under the business and information paradigms, are also exploring alternatives.

What new uses does their participation make possible?

How might these help them rethink their own practices as writers, visual artists, composers?

How will these practices change?

The following, which draws on my short experience in the digital realm both as an artist and as director of the Turbulence Web site, [2] is about these questions.

Loose Ends/Connections: A Story

What is the separateness of things when the current that flows each to each is live?

--Jeannette Winterson, Gut Symmetries

1

Narrative has been a lifelong interest of mine. I began my writing career with stories that failed completely to conform to the traditional notion of what a story is. While initially retaining a small cast of characters, the familiar linear and climactic plot was gone; there was no accumulation of information about events. They were not stories about people but about ideas, and their energy derived from the connections they made between apparently unrelated subject matters. North Country, which was written for the page in 1995 and has since been adapted for CD-ROM, the Web, and radio, is a latter-day case in point.

North Country moves from the newspaper account of the discovery of the skeletal remains of an unidentified woman--

NORTH ELBA, NY-- The skeletal remains, believed to be that of an adult female between the ages of 37 and 47, were discovered by a couple fishing in a small lake off route 73 near the town of North Elba.

The skull had a gunshot wound in its right side. Additional bones and the remains of clothing, including jeans, work boots, a shirt, sweater and a leather jacket were also found. In spite of the grisly scene, suicide, not murder, is the suspected cause of death.

to a forensic expert describing the findings of the investigation,

The investigation revealed numerous signs of animal activity in the area.

The lower portion of the skeleton was missing and while the upper part, including the skull, was relatively complete, the heads of a number of the bones, including those of the long humeri and ulnae from the arms, were bitten off postmortem. The remains of the victim's jeans, shirt and jacket were found near the bones.

An hour after the police brought them in, I removed the remains from the carton and systematically laid them out on a tabletop in my office [...]. The reassembly process began with the skull.

to the question: "WHO IS SHE?"

to the voice of Simon Says3 insisting that the story be told from the beginning, followed by the a response of an unnamed woman, who

goes back as far as she can [...,] thinks of astronomical space [...,] thinks of the picture she has seen of matter propelled forward by the hypothetical explosion known as the big bang--great chunks of spherical matter moving toward her from some distant point, some earlier moment.

and yells back at Simon,

"I can't think of a time with a beginning."

to Wittgenstein's sly remark:

"It's always difficult to find the beginning. …

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