Saturday, February 7, 2009

In the white darkness by Reiner Strasser: Maxine Armstrong

I watched all the pieces, but the one that moved me the most was ‘In the White Darkness’ by Reiner Strasser.
The title suggests that it is about losing memory and things being blanked out, as in a snowstorm. I have not heard of the author before and although I have seem interactive pieces before, they have had a more linear storyline.
“It assimilates and reflects the experience with patients fallen ill with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's diseases, showing the fragility and fluidity of memory from a subjective point of view.” (Strasser, 2004)
The interface is a grid of dots that you select to view text, photos, audio and videos in random combinations. Any number of combinations can be played together and a few are suggested for you by the connecting lines. Not all the dots trigger a response which to me was like the memories that have already been lost.
As images split and fade it gives you glimpses, not really stating anything, but just hinting. It made me think how dementia can cause your memories to escape and you try to reach them but it is no longer clear what sense they once made. It raise questions over what makes a persons identity if they lose their memories.
“We build our history thru the experience of our life
Do we loose our history when we loose our memory?”

The way I view a text defiantly depends on whether I view it for ‘fun’ or ‘research’. For ‘fun’ I am hoping for an enjoyable experience, for ‘research’ I am looking to increase my knowledge or understanding and usually I expect it to be stressful.
I am not sure of the genre, it might be a memoir as the artist, Reiner Strasser, collaborated with Marjorie Coverley, although I am not sure if it is based on her actual memories, therefore it could be interactive fiction or a visual novel.
I do like this text as I think it is quite effective. It reminded me of my grandmother who lived by the coast and suffered from Alzheimer’s.
I think more sound would help – perhaps music or the sounds of the sea. I was surprised by the oriental music and writing as I could not see how they fit with the rest of the images used. The ‘author’ uses images of the sea, beech, waves, coastline, sunsets, etc. but they are all fleeting. Few words are actually used.
I guess that some people may not understand the point of this piece and be unfamiliar with interactive works.


Jess said...

Excellent work Maxine! Very interesting interpretation.

I'm very taken with your line: "It raise questions over what makes a person's identity if they lose their memories." Your question seems to slide nicely into Lecture 5's discussion on Derrida and poststructuralism. After reading Derrida and learning about postmodernism/poststructuralism, I wonder how you might answer that question? What is identity without memory?

This is where the idea of "nostalgia" comes into Postmodern thinking. For a theorist like Linda Hutcheon, nostalgia depends exactly on that irrecoverability of memory...identity in that sense might actually be inaccessible and because of that, perhaps will become idealised (i.e. we become nostalgic).

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