Thursday, 16 August 2007

Steve Dearden on Bookfutures



I've recently entered the playful world of FaceBook to be poked and befriended by people from different corners of my life. My daughter is horrified - "you can't be my friend on FaceBook- you'll be able to spy on my life!" And I see what she means.
In amongst the hiyas, I was delighted to get the following essay from my old friend Steve Dearden, literature development supremo who writes:


"Chris

Thank you for your site, I really enjoyed it, it has given me a whole morning's distraction from what I should have been doing. It's great. Provoking.

I love technology. I love buttons and dials, even more so touch screens, hanging plasma, the idea that technology will respond if I twitch my nose, or wink at it, or sneeze in a different country. I am not an either or person, I want the lot!

There has always been talk about the impact of new technology on form, not surprising when it works so well with other formal structures than the classic narrative line, but then those have always been there – dipping, rereading, reading backwards, multiple choices and alternative narratives. They are brain and custom things rather than a medium thing.

What has interested me lately is the relation to tactility and space. At the recent We Love Technology conference there was a brilliant commentary by Alexander Grüsteidl on how domestic utopias have been realised (literaturedevelopment.com for the context and link from my latest paper adventure's electronic sibling) in which almost as a throwaway he mentions how the one thing none of the futuristic visions predicted was the computer mouse.

It made me think about this little arm extension, we wave about, squeeze, bang on the desk, a precursor of the Wii. It is the interactive device, but it also predisposes us physically to engage with the medium. Of course the other thing that none of the pictures of the future predict is the book. The mouse and the book. In a similar way, beyond the obvious and oft-mentioned tactility of nice pages, covers, smell etc. like the mouse to the screen content, approaching, holding, carrying, manipulating the book physically predisposes us to the medium of navigateing/imagining the page.

Maybe this is why some very simple things like the wonderful Miranda July fridge/cooker piece on your site work so well, whereas some of the others, like He Wants to take Your Picture in Born magazine are superficially impressive but ultimately leave me, at least, non-plussed.

What was also interesting about WLT was how much of the work relied on text and narrative, rather than image. And how much the future – interactive window displays, fog-screens, projection (see the links down the right of www.urbanscreens.org) holds. Content might be an issue! Beauty certainly isn’t, have you seen Julius Popp’s bit.fall, not light on water, but water shaping words, bit.fall
and for a film in action:



Bit.Fall - MyVideo

And another aspect of WLT was the yearning of technology for tactility, the sensual interface – I don’t know if you have seen this lovely little film: woebken

take care

Steve"