Finding an example of electronic literature that I enjoyed was a little difficult because I am not a big fan of poetry. Because of this, I wanted to challenge myself to find some poem that I enjoyed for this project. Fortunately, I was able to find a work that was creative enough to peak my interest. >>oh<< is an interactive poem written by Jennifer Hill-Kaucher, and based off a visual poem by Dan Waber. Reiner Strasser created the audio-visual parts of the poem, and it was all put together in January 2005.
The poem can be found here and is set in the middle of the webpage and does not link to any other sites because the poem is run through HTML. On a white page, the word >>oh<< fades into the middle of the screen in a large font, then in smaller font the authors names fade in below the >>oh<<. Then everything fades out, back to a white screen, and eighteen light grey dots appear on screen.
Once you place your mouse over a dot the dot becomes a darker grey circle and blue ring pulses out similar to a raindrop. The raindrop shows some of the poem that is faintly behind the dots. Once you have made each of the dots pulse, a little blue dot appears on the bottom right side of the screen. This dot, once the mouse touches it, allows the poem to fade into sight from the white background. The font, which is Courier New, is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and plays well with the calming tone of the poem.
When we read this poem we can focus less on the fact that there is a lot of words shown, and more on the words that are different in the poem. This can reduce stress and make the reader feel the calming motion of the raindrops.
These visual aspects of poem are enhanced by the audio. Each dot, when the mouse runs over it emits a different “Oh” sound, using different vocal intonations. The although each voice that says “Oh” is different, they are not harsh or angry. The motion of raindrops is also aided by the audio of drops which is crisp and calming. Another aspect of the audio that aids the visuals of the poem is when the whole poem is displayed to us we hear a rain storm instead of the dripping. This gives the reader who is interacting with the poem a feeling of completion, that not every interactive fiction poem can give.
The creator of the audio visual aspects of the poem, Reiner Strasser, has also worked many other works of electronic literature. A few of those have also been discussed on this blog as well, so check out the phenomenal work!
>>oh<< is a perfect example of interactive fiction because this poem incorporates audio, visual, and motor interactivity. By having the reader use the mouse to create the pulse effects, which reveal the poem, the creators bring interactive fiction to another level. The audio also brings the reader into another form of interactivity, however the audio is not an integral part of the poem. The visual interactivity forces the reader to focus on the words that are in between the “oh’s.” Because of all of this, I really found that this poem made me want to explore more interactive fiction. Having to work to get the full picture of the narrative keeps my attention when reading poetry.
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