samantha gorman on PRY- winner of the New Media Writing Prize
PRY is an artistic intervention into the potential and form of the eBook. It argues for a consideration of native media in publishing beyond the simple emulation of print on screen. Composed for the affordances of the iPad, PRY invokes touch along with cinema, game design and literary arts in service of its story world. Within this convergence, form and function are deeply intertwined and poetics of gesture inform reading practices; in PRY, the reader touches the thoughts of the main protagonist. Here, to read is to pry into a world of unreliable narration and shifted memory where content is not simply juxtaposed, but layered along a 3D reading axis.
How did you find the experience of writing for this medium? To what extent does it require a different approach to writing?
I began considering what it meant to write in/through/media 10 years ago as an undergraduate at Brown University. This is relevant because Brown had one of the early programs of study for what was called "Electronic Writing". The writing culture there instilled me with a focus on form and concept, as well as an enthusiasm for genre collision. Any approach to writing is a practice that sits at the nexus of the writer, contemporary context and available tools. Formal and conceptual experiments with writing have been happening for quite sometime. Now, we simply have a wider arsenal of tools to execute them. Yes, the approach is changed because of new formal considerations that must be taken into account for how text is rendered and experienced, but it is also not changed. I think for many writers, the impetus to write and the "WHY" write sustains. This motivation is key to the approach: make it work. The more we can look beyond anxiety and hype, the more we can master our digital tools and make them accessible to find ways of writing that "work" for us. Beyond this, yes, I recognize there are shades of difference in my approach. It feels natural to me, at this point, to consider every aspect a user might experience as a cohesive whole (as “the writing”). But, this is an extension of the composition process. Part of writing for media is considering the poetics of not just the language, but of how the users will approach your total media. What are the poetics of the interface? What is the metaphor of its use, how do they PRY? What does it feel like to read? All of these components relate to the text itself and its impact. I really enjoy projects by others that critically approach form, where interaction isn’t just tagged on to the text in service of making it “digital”. Interaction can be a truly meaningful way to engage with a story, to embed oneself inside a character’s consciousness. My perception/experience of writing is also influenced by how I play and enjoy video games. It’s actually this medium (I'm including Experimental & Indie Games) that I think has made the most visible advances in how we tell and consume writing. In terms of writing for print: I guess, if I was to write a book of poetry for the page, I would begin with automatic writing. Go with the gut, less critical revision at first. BUT, if I’m writing with media, from the start, I have to simultaneously consider/compose for the experience of the total artwork: consider the interplay of all elements (text, image, interaction). Then again, if I was writing for the page. . . I would probably also be concerned with the form of the page and the book as a type of technology:)