week two • [adventures in animated text]
This week, I want to take a closer look at “Dakota” (2002) and try to connect some of my first impressions of the literature with the introductory theory.
Hayles’ suggests electronic literature is a “hopeful monster” made up from other forms of media. The countdown which opens “Dakota” is reminiscent of the countdown that might appear on the head leader of a film reel. And like seeing a film in a theatre, the viewer is unable to pause, fast forward, or rewind. “Dakota” demands our attention.
Marinetti suggests that words-in-freedom employ mathematical or musical signs to control the speed of style—“Dakota” does this in a more direct way, controlling the speed by controlling how quickly rapidly the work clicks through each “screen” and how many words appear each time. This pace is reinforced by the music, which plays in time with the text (or is the text in time with the music?). Partway through the work, the pace outstripped my ability to process the words as they appeared, and I struggled to decipher their meaning.
This work, along with Brian Kim Stefans’ work, is decidedly non-interactive. Because we cannot control the pace of the work, or pause, I wonder how this affects our idea of close versus hyper reading. Where it is easy to re-read a sentence in a book, or to flip between pages to compare, how possible is it to closely examine “Dakota” if the text moves too quickly for you follow? It is impossible to tell how long “Dakota” is before viewing it, unlike knowing the page count of a book or running time of a film, and you cannot skim through it.
Is “Dakota” a poem? A short story? A short film? It’s art, I think. It’s electronic literature. And to try to further categorize it might be missing the point.
Young-Hae Change Heavy Industries, “Dakota” (2002)
Video version of “Dakota” (if you would like to be able to pause or slow down the text)
F.T. Marinetti, “Words in Freedom” (1913, PDF)