Reflection on Kinetic Exercise (Week 3, Prompt 2)

So you’ve now made something–or at least tried to do so.  How does it color your experience of the texts that you’ve been assigned to read? What do you appreciate more (or less) about the “published” works of electronic literature that we’ve been reading as a result of dabbling in the art yourself? You might think about which elements of the works now stand out more as a result of your efforts.

If your view of the readings hasn’t changed significantly as a result of this exercise, you may reflect directly on the experience of putting text in motion.

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  1. I made some animated text via text boxes on Microsoft Powerpoint–simple, but it gave a whole new meaning to how purposeful the authors of the “published” text have been about their respective piece’s meanings. To clarify, I took a long time to think of a simple phrase and how the text’s motion revealed/added to its meaning. Many phrases that I considered were too difficult to put into motion and have the motion also add to the meaning of the line. Even when I could come up with a motion that would add meaning, I faced technological difficulties–namely, my skill level and the technology I knew how to use (few that would be useful in this exercise). When I finally settled on a phrase, my simple kinetic text took longer to put into motion than I had previously thought it would. I also found a new meaning to my piece after animating my text, which was pretty awesome.

    That being said, I definitely have more respect for those like bpNichols, whose work initially seemed rudimentary–considering his technological constraints, it’s cooler than I originally thought.

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  2. I think the easy reply is the admission that I have a greater technical respect for these various works. And, I say that coming from a graphic design background.

    Indeed, work like this should be fairly straightforward… motion is easy to emulate on computers, and computers are used to working with text. What hadn’t occurred to me before actually attempting the exercise was that those two statements don’t intersect in common computing. That is, the programs we all have for word processing aren’t anticipating the user to want those words to move. Word processing is designed with static text in mind. The program I use every time I intend to publish text expects that text to be either printed on a page or fixed on a screen. There are even fundamental incompatibilities between word processing programs and animation software–Adobe Flash doesn’t acknowledge text objects imported from other Adobe programs; you would have to turn every item of text into an image, basically, and then use Flash to animate the image rather than the original text, which is clumsy at best.

    I think a more unusual reply is to admit that I have a greater appreciation for letters, and the amount of letters used in even the most basic block of text. When you’re animating type, you can either animate by word or by letter. By word may be simpler, but allows less control, less detail. Animating by letter would seemingly offer more control and more detail but ends up hugely compounding the amount of time spent on a project. And if careful, creative attention is given to every single letter in a text, you could spend a year of your life working on a single poem. I don’t know that this is useful or relevant to any reading of these pieces, but it has shifted how I, as a designer at least, interact with text.

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  3. Crafting my own moving poem was more enjoyable and more complicated than I had originally expected.I really enjoyed devising an idea and set out to complete the poem with relative eagerness. It was during the creative process that things got more complicated. My lack of extreme technical know how (and a malfunctioning track pad on my computer) left me frustrated and more aware of the limits of working in this medium for people with little computer knowledge. Like some of my colleagues above, I feel I should maybe be slow to judge technical simplicity in the works we read.
    I was, however, surprised at how even with my poor skills I was able to create meaning (or at least play with meaningful patterns and movements) with moving text. As an English education major, I’m curious as to how this kind of work could offer a “way in” to poetry for young people whose previous experience with the genre has been unimpressive or confusing. Most students I will have will be products of an Internet-surfeited generation, and perhaps this online form- in its similarity to video and its attention-grabbing speed- could be a place of familiarity where students could play with important poetical qualities like form, shape, and structure while creating their own original pieces. I finished this activity with a renewed excitement for the possibilities of this form as more than a performance to be observed. Instead, it can be a way to delve into the very essence of poetry by creating some ourselves.I relish the idea of showing a classroom a selection from bpNichols and then having them discover that they, too, can create kinetic poetry.

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  4. It certainly isn’t easy, that’s for sure. I’m struggling to figure out how to use color typewriter in powerpoint, so to see some of these beautiful creations that these artists have come up with, really takes on deeper significance and commands greater respect, as far as I’m concerned. I particularly enjoyed this week’s reading of “Etcetera,” in this regard. That definitely required some technical know-how that I’ll likely never posses.

    That said, I also felt that putting text in motion provides more tools for my use. Normally, when I write poetry or lyrics, or even prose, It’s me, the paper, the pen and whatever inspiration I have. Now, it’s me, my mouse cursor, keyboard, inspiration and a host of programs, colors, fonts sounds, videos and motions that I can use to convey a similar meaning. It actually is somewhat overwhelming. When I have that many options, it’s like being a kid in a candy store. I genuinely don’t know what to choose. Part of me is uncomfortable with all these new tools as well. Not just because I don’t possess the technical know-how, but because it feels like the text-in-movement that I’m creating is too easy, somehow. (I know that’s not the case for many of our readings. As I stated in my previous paragraph, I have great respect for the effort required to create these works.) My point is that I don’t want the tools at my disposal to distract me from the process of creation, which is why I love literature in the first place. This is something I’ll likely get over in time.

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  5. I will freely admit that I did not have high hopes for my project, a ‘kinetic’ ‘typography’ of ‘The Second Coming’ by William Yeats, one of my favorite poems of all times. I was pleasantly surprised by the range of animations PowerPoint supports, but while it was not the breathtaking work of staggering genius I had hoped it to be, it still turned out nicely. One or two of my planned animations proved impossible, but I adjusted. As such, looking back at the pieces we were assigned, I see that these creators had much more flexibility with their tools – Flash, HTML4 or HTML5, and other software and code suites that allowed for true freedom. I also can appreciate that while I thought some of them looked a little Web 1.0 (Lookin’ at you, ‘sooth’), that’s a little more than I could muster in PowerPoint 2013. I now appreciate the handiwork of testing, finagling, and making-up-on-the-fly-to-compensate-for-coding-idiosyncrasies that goes into a published, legitimate piece of electronic word-art.

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  6. I took Geoffrey’s last comment about simply moving a window around as “kinetic text”, and took it in a slightly different direction. I simply downloaded a book on my Kindle and flipped the pages. More specifically, I dragged the text left and right on a tablet screen.

    I approached the exercise of “creating” kinetic text with some skepticism. Frankly, nothing that we had seen thus far was impressive (I’m responding to this before I’m doing the readings for this week). Even the pieces i would consider more artistic, Birds and Strings, I would categorize more as visual art rather than literature per se. Idly sliding the pages of an eReader back and forth, I recalled what was said in the first class about how the notion of E-Literature all begun: an emphasis on the medium by which the work is viewed. I had argued before that text was always in motion, even with the flipping of a physical book page, the text is perceptively in motion. As far as information goes, I do still stand by using digital copies of books rather than a physical copy. I have dozens of books, an amount of text that would previously have been impossible for me to hold at one time, in one eReader, barely a pound in weight and the size of a children’s book. However, there is something distinct about actually flipping the pages of a book compared to scrolling through the pages of a digital book. Perhaps it is the sensation of paper as opposed to glass, perhaps it is the difference between overhead lighting and a backlight. It was mentioned several times in the first class session that people preferred to feel a book in their hands. I was the only one who had voiced otherwise, and while I still think eReaders and digital texts are superior to their paper counterparts in terms of use, I am reminded to appreciate a good old fashioned book.

    That doesn’t mean I’m going to go buy a hard copy of the books I already own. I still think that’s silly. But I can appreciate it more after this exercise.

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  7. I definitely appreciate authors more after attempting to create my own piece. I started working on putting my text in motion and had an image in my head of some sort of elaborate video-like presentation, but that, obviously, did not become a reality. I imagined a ton of graphics and words falling into place, but I was constrained by my lack of knowledge regarding technology and how to put words into motion. I felt out of place while creating my presentation using iMovie as I had always used a Word document when writing any kind of literary work, be it a poem, short story, or analytical essay.

    I worked on my presentation in parts over the weekend and parts of the week and felt a little discouraged when I saw how incredible some of the pieces that we read for this week were. However, attempting to put text in motion really helped me appreciate the works more, especially those of bpNichols because he created amazing pieces, even with the limited technology of his time.

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  8. I’m really bad at doing things on the computer that aren’t microsoft word or google, so I decided to make a stop motion short clip of a quote and I also wanted to do something different. I started to question though if this was really e-literature since I used actual paper and pens but in the process of making the stop motion clip I had to destroy the original drawing and the only way to experience it fully is to watch the clip. I don’t know how to compare the making of my kinetic text to the texts that we read since my method was so different than things we’ve looked at so far. I made the clip very quickly and hastily and I think it turned out decent so I’d like to try it again with more focus and time. I feel like there’s so many options to be explored. Through making my own and imagining the possibilities I have to say I’m a little disappointed at the level of creativity in the things we’ve read. I think there’s a lot of interesting things that could be done and e-literature has a lot of potential that probably hasn’t been fully reached yet. But then we could say that literature as a whole hasn’t reached it’s potential and never will because the nature of art is that there is no final form.

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