ELO Collection

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My initial reactions to ELO anthology were, quite frankly, not positive ones.  I wondered why I had to do this, mainly because I could not find meaning, or any necessary and important idea (to me), in any of the texts to which I was being exposed.  Maybe it all went over my head, because my classmates so far seem to have enjoyed their experiences with the ELO anthology, but I did not really enjoy anything I explored.  I did not see how many of them were different from reading something from a book.  For instance, in “Girls’ Day Out” by Kerry Lawrynovicz, the poems and author’s note seem like they could be on different pages in a book, as do the pictures.  This is how I felt about many of them, which made me wonder why or how they are so different from print literature.  Another one, called “Storyland” by Nanette Wylde flashed as if its purpose was to give me a seizure.  I could not watch or play it (I don’t even really know if these verbs even describe the action involved here) because of this.   I decided to choose the three that were the least painful to me, both literally and figuratively, and tried to get something out of the experience. 


First, I chose "Strings" by Dan Waber.  This one was very simple and rather clever, which is why I chose it.  It consisted of a moving image of a string that spelled out various words that would be used in relationships between two people.  The string made the words fluid and moving, almost as if they were alive.  The “reader” could choose the type of relationship or interaction that he or she wanted to view.  I went through all of them at least once.  I really liked the last one which read “words are like strings that I pull out of my mouth.”  I thought this was an interesting concept.  It does seem that sentences are like strings that we pull out of our mouths already formed.  I also like this idea because we hear because of sound waves which move in ways similar to his strings.  It is almost as if he is visually representing sound and textually representing action through the strings’ movements, which goes far beyond what is expected of the typical print literature.  Overall, this one was my favorite.


I also spent time looking at “The Dreamlife of Letters” by Brian Kim Stefans.  I thought this one was clever too, and close to traditional reading, so I chose to explore it further.  It was very long, but there were some highlights to it.  It explored words and their meanings in a physical way, often making the words perform or show their meanings.  For instance, the word “drip” falls down the screen as if it were a drop of water.  Also, the word borders is shown in a similar way.  The first part of the word appears as /bo/ and the rders breaks the borders of the word.  Also, “xtra” is added on to an e to form extra, height stretches out to be very tall, and so on.  I thought this was a creative way to show the meanings of the words through the words themselves.


Finally, I looked at “Birds Singing Other Birds’ Songs” by Maria Mencia.  I liked this one least of the three that I picked because of the weird bird noises that were apparently made by people; however, I did like the fact that the birds were formed out of the letters that spelled the sounds they made.  Like the others, this piece of literature, if that is what it is to be called, focused on the idea of show the meaning of the words, or in this case sounds, through the actual letters that make up the word.  


All three of these actually reminded me of the video that accompanies the children’s book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault and illustrated by Lois Ehlert that many of you might be familiar with.  If you have time take a look at this compared to the three I have chosen above.  Especially take a look at the credits at the end.  Archambault’s “Arch” becomes an actual arch, and the Lo in Lois moves down the screen (plus, it has a more catchy tune than those creepy birds).  


For the rest of the time, I decided to explore those that my classmates have explored so far.  I decided to do this to see if their more positive experiences were due to the ones that they chose.  I looked at “Girl’s Day Out,”which is one that Shellie looked at and liked, but as mentioned above, I still did not enjoy it.  I also looked at the “RedRidingHood” story that Maddie looked at, was also annoyed (except perhaps more so) at the fact that many of the objects in the story could not be clicked on.  I did not even finish this one because of this frustration.  I also looked to see if any of the others ignited any initial interest. “Self Portrait(s) [as Other(s)]” by Talan Memmot initially appealed to me because of the pictures rather than the words, but it also soon seemed repetitive and like a book.  I found that the three that I picked in the beginning were the most interesting and creative that I could find.  


I found that much of what Aarseth was discussing in Chapters 2 through 4 that was beyond my understanding at times seemed to apply to this type of text, but only in some ways.  Aarseth’s discussion of semiotics was most prevalent.  He writes,” J. David Bolter (1991) claims that ‘the theory of semiotics becomes obvious, almost trivially true, in the computer medium’ (196), but this seems to be based on a misreading of the semiotic […] notion of sign” (25).  I am not sure I understand his later arguments, but I agree with Aarseth when he says that Bolter’s comment is incorrect.  I think that semiotics applies well to the cybertext, especially cybertext such as that on the ELO website.  Within semiotics is the idea of semantics that Aarseth does refer to at times, which basically identifies the relationship between the definition, or sign, and the actual thing that the sign represents.  This is most obvious in the “Birds Singing Other Birds’ Songs” text, but is present in all of the texts, including the video of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  This idea of semiotics helps me to better understand this type of literature, but I do not think that this specific type of literature will ever appeal to me, unless it involves more interesting and relevant subjects and more creative animation and music.


Take a look at what everyone else has to say about the ELO collection.

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