Panorama Diorama

“What We Will” (2004) is an interesting piece of electronic literature for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s hard to figure out, which makes it a fun challenge. Secondly, think of the movie “Inception”. You may have to play it a few times before you actually figure it out, and even then it still blows your mind. Not only is this a work of poetic narrative, it is also art. Creator John Cayley uses QuickTime to provide the viewer with “interactive photographic panoramas and topographically associated aural and musical soundscapes in binaural stereo.” This basically means when you first step into the game, you arrive at an airport. You are welcome to navigate through it as many times as you like by going in as many circles as you like, but the only way out is to click on the woman walking away from you. A letter is hidden within her baggage and when you open it, you are given images of three different characters, each one posing as if they were in front of a camera. You won’t be able to stop at any of the gifts shops or get a bite to eat at the food court, but if you glance at the top of your screen, you’ll notice a lineup of Roman numerals, like a clock. Each one of those presents its own narrative and you are then transported to another scene. You could wind up in someone’s apartment or even someone’s bed. It’s a little like playing I SPY. Each brief poetic narrative allows to look for an unopened letter that is easily found on the floor or a nearby dresser. As you open each letter, you will find something extraordinary. Inside each letter is a panorama of black and white images of a character you may click on as you navigate through the game. I like to interpret this as a love triangle, a sort of soap opera between two men and one woman. There’s no telling what this piece really is trying to say. It is my understanding that the author allows you to come up with your own interpretations. As you continue to click on each Roman numeral the panorama inside each letter continues to morph and grow together as if two photos of a body become one. The photos begin as a regular portrait, but then they begin to stretch out, while you have to turn your own head to get a clearer picture. As you continue to go through the game, your entrances into the apartment is sometimes sideways and eventually upside down as if you yourself are turning alongside the game. You become your own form of a panorama. The world continues to spin, and there is no way of stopping it unless you decide to allow yourself to stop and look around.  

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