Word Circuits


Forepaper by Colin Gardner
for Messenger Morphs the Media 99

What are the ways in which scholarly and 'artistic' hypertexts place different constraints and demands on the writer? I have two web sites: one is my own personal poetry, the other is a site containing research materials. The poetry site is illustrated with edited images taken from photographs of sculptures and architectural details. When making these images and combining them with my writing, I was conscious of making decisions that could not be easily measured. For example, some of my decisions were based on feelings about colour, others stemmed from various effects made possible with my photo-editing software. Although this issue is pertinent to non-hypertext forms, if the focus is on the way colour and image combine to create powerful 'cues' to interaction, hyperfiction seems to have greater relevance.

The research material site is less concerned with establishing moods through colours, and images. Instead, it seeks to inform, to order, not delight. It tries, above all, to make the text 'amenable' in a perceivably less 'creative' way.

As a brief overview, my research project is related to the 'materiality' of text. I am investigating, generally at this stage, the various factors that go into the reading experience, ranging from psychological, perceptual aspects (colour-perception, reading problems...) to those which can be viewed as referring to the object (colours, luminosity, contrast...). In this project, I am seeking to combine interests in the physical medium with theoretical approaches to hyperfiction.

Therefore, taking a cue partly from Aarseth's distinction between practical and literary forms (Cybertext), partly from cognitive hypertext research, I am interested in exploring the tension between accessibility and creativity. What concessions/considerations are, or can legitimately be, made in this art form? Does the reader bear responsibilities? Is there a general strategy for reading in this medium, or does that depend, to whatever degree, on individual systems?


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