PlayTime: Markers and Mechanisms of Time in Hypermedia Literature

Organized by Marjorie C. Luesebrink
Irvine Valley College, USA
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Abstract: While space has always been a primary concern in the digital arts, time and the span of play have been less well explored. Recent papers by Ron R. Hightower, Francisco J. Ricardo, Marjorie C. Luesebrink, Robert Kendall, and Stephanie Strickland and Diane Greco have explored temporal aspects of digital narrative and poetry. However, the blend of text, image, sound, and structure that characterizes current electronic literature, both on the WWW and in autonomous media, continues to raise new questions and to challenge our assumptions about the way readers experience the play of technology. Stephanie Strickland and Diane Greco, in their paper, "Dali Clocks: Time Dimensions of Hypertext" ask: "In digital art, how do these markers shift? How do we know what time it is, how long we have lingered, or what rhythm impedes our progress through a work of electronic art? How do we know when to move on, to 'turn the digital page,' or to stop? There are certainly no standard answers, but a part of the excitement of digital art comes from the possibilities it offers for handling time differently."

The issue of time, moreover, has come to be seen as a central factor in our understanding of the relationship between reader and text--issues of who plays and how, what is the true nature of the player, human or electronic.

The members of this panel will explore these issues. Stephanie Strickland is a print and hypermedia poet. She will expand and demonstrate concepts from her paper, Dali Clocks, looking particularly at ways in which time markers shift in digital media and interactions with digital work might change neurocognitive spacetime. She will also cover possible implications of multitasking, microprocessing, and interruptibility. Rob Swigart writes hypermedia fiction; his presentation, "Rhythms of Technology" will explore interrelated time frames in his narrative works, Down Time and Portal. Marjorie C. Luesebrink writes hypermedia narratives under the pen name M.D. Coverley. Her hypermedia novel, Califia (Eastgate Systems, 2000) and a recent web work, "Default Lives," illustrate some of the ways that games and gaming influence hypertext. Her presentation "Play On: Plot and Pause Points in Hypermedia Narrative" investigates the multiplicity of intersections between timing and discovery.

Through the examination and demonstration of these and other works, the panel participants will investigate the PlayTimes that are possible in electronic digital literature.

About the Presenters:

Marjorie C. Luesebrink. M.D. COVERLEY is the pen name of Marjorie C. Luesebrink, MFA, hypermedia novelist and short story writer. She teaches writing at Irvine Valley College and has been making hypermedia fiction since 1995. Her full-length, hypertext novel, Califia, is forthcoming from Eastgate Systems on CD-ROM, spring 2000.

Stephanie Strickland is a print and hypermedia poet. Her full-length hypertext, True North, published by Eastgate Systems won a Salt Hill Hypertext Prize. Her Web work includes "To Be Here as Stone Is," with M.D. Coverley, Riding the Meridian, and "The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot," which was awarded a Best of the Net Poetry award by About.com.

Rob Swigart is a research affiliate at the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, California. He has spent the past six years developing scenarios and vignettes for Fortune 500 companies. His most recent hypertext, Down Time, is forthcoming from Eastgate Systems. He has taught writing at San Jose State University since 1972 and serves on the board of the Electronic Literature Organization.