Under the Dreaming Methods link, we have The Flat by Andy Campbell. It is a simple example of Electronic Literature that allows the viewer to explore a flat with limited living space. The viewer begins in a staircase and a narrative that appears–then fades, sometimes too quickly to finish reading, and if your cursor is not centered on the image, the frame of the image will cut off the words.
While exploring this flat, I was reminded of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story entitled “The Tell-Tale Heart.” In this story, an unnamed narrator murders an elderly man, dismembers his body, and buries the body parts underneath the floor. A neighbor notifies the police at the sound of the old man’s screams, and when the police arrive, the narrator becomes overwhelmed with paranoia so that he thinks he can hear the heartbeat of the old man under him. His guilt consumes him and he confesses to the police, instructing them to tear up the floorboards.
What lead me to this connection is the play with ghosts/spirits in “The Flat.” At the beginning of the journey, a stopwatch is set for 2:10. When time runs out at the end of each cycle, the viewer is transported to where s/he began, with a shadow passing in the window and an ominous knock on the wooden door. When the viewer opens the door, a transparent, hooded, white figure stands in the yard.
This figure, paired with the timed count-down, could signify the inevitable haunting where the wrongs that the narrator has committed come knocking on his door. Or, in Poe’s case, the inevitable confession brought on by guilt.
This is not the only point in the story-line when ghosts show up. The narrator lifts up his hand at one point in the hallway, to reveal transparency with a hint of red. I chose to focus on the symbolism of red, as in literal blood on the narrator’s hands. Also, in the bedroom that is tinted red from the shades on the windows, there appears a man’s daunting face in the closet, to fade away as quickly as he appeared.
Throughout this disjointed world that the viewer explores, there are certain artifacts that can be pulled up, or places that can be zoomed in on that have some narrative attached (like the soap in the bathtub). The narrative changes when you click on the same area again. These blurbs give the viewer some sense of the relationship between the narrator and the person that he is addressing, but the relationship is unclear. This reminded me greatly of the ambiguity of the relationship between the murderer and old man in The Tell-Tale Heart. We don’t receive much explanation, but we do get enough substance to leave us wanting to know more about the characters.