XML (Cave Writing Text Editor)
Aphasia is an electronic literature work created for the CAVE at Brown University, an immersive, interactive 3D environment. In spring 2010, I took a class called Cave Writing which explored electronic literature in this medium. The CAVE is an 8′ cube with projected images on the walls and floor. You interact with the piece with a wand that lets you move and tracking glasses that form a 3D image when viewed through. With these, the CAVE can sense where you are and what direction you’re looking in.
In June I presented Aphasia in the Undergraduate Quickfire Plenary at Archive and Innovate: The 4th International Conference & Festival of the Electronic Literature Organization.
Aphasia is a character study of an anguished writer as he struggles to express himself. He is paralyzed by his inability to write, to move, and to remember. With one look, you as the viewer plunge into the writer’s subconscious. You become trapped in your own words. Lost in a hazy city of names. Seduced by a tenuous memory.
I wanted to make a narrative work, perhaps reminiscent of art cinema, in which the character’s consciousness is projected onto the form and style of the piece. The solely textual aesthetic addresses the inability of words to fully capture thoughts, emotions, and memories. As writers, our thought processes are shaped by words, yet they also imprison us.
The piece uses the interactive possibilities of the CAVE to convey the flow of consciousness. Looking and moving are more intuitive than the alienating gesture of clicking, and allow the viewer’s actions to reflect those of the writer so that they can assume his perspective. The interface also takes away user determination, leading to sensations of being trapped, lacking will and control. This attempts to express the involuntary, meandering nature of cognitive processes like writer’s block, contemplation, and memory. As the piece progresses, the writer breaks the chains and begins to rediscover movement, memory, and expression.
Music: “Film d’amore e d’anarchia (#3)” and “Parlami di me (Valzer)” by Nino Rota