*Motions* is a work of [[electronic literature->elit]] by Hazel Smith (text), Will Luers (images and coding) and Roger Dean (sound). It seems to fit best into the genre of kinetic poetry, as it creates a feeling of moving through space and time with its navigation and moving visuals. The piece tries to shed a light on human trafficking and contemporary slavery. It combines graphics, text, sound and movement to create an interactivity that emulates an experience of the victims. Witten in the post flash era, it has lots of visuals and moving segments to express a multimodel character. I have split up this work into the major elements of the medium's reader interaction. Each element adds to the story the authors wanted to tell. Click on each one to find out how.
[[Works Cited->Wrks cited]]
View *Motions* here:
http://will-luers.com/motions/Movement In *Motions*
Movement in Motions doesn’t leave the reader much room to explore. The reader can only move horizontally and laterally. The horizontal movement operates like a slideshow. Each time the left or right arrow is clicked, a new page is presented, there is no bar to scroll. There is a progress bar at the top of the screen telling the reader where they are in the piece. The reader navigates with the four arrow keys. Left and right arrows to move left and right, or up and down to scroll up and down. Most slides don’t have a large amount of lateral scrolling, but just enough to uncover a hidden piece of text or image. This lack of exploration feels intended, emulating the experience of the victims. No matter how much the reader wants to laterally scroll, to complete the piece, all 74 slides must be viewed. A quote from the beginning of the piece communicates this idea to the reader: “What difference will a change of destination make? Let the train do its own bidding...You are not on a train, but if you push a key you can simulate the activity of being on it.” (Smith)
I support the design of movement throughout the piece. Where a traditional poem may be read laterally, moving horizontally feels more like a locomotive. To achieve this feeling, while still involving a lateral scroll too, is where the movement of this piece really adds to the message. This being an advantage of E-Lit for sure.
<img src="https://www.nicepng.com/png/detail/372-3725136_move-left-right-up-down-arrow-navigate-comments.png" width="500" height="300" alt="Two foxes">
[[Home->Motions]] Text In *Motions*
The story is told through fragments of text. Formed from quotes, news articles and narration, the text reads like a poem. The small instances of text give the piece a quick and light feel, despite being 74 pages. Some segments of text will correspond to the past pages. For example page 12 has text reading: “Why did you agree to go with him?” and page 14 provides an answer: “I had nothing and he offered me everything.” This builds a stronger narrative as the reader progresses through the piece. It creates a mini plot line until the next plot line quickly shows up unannounced. The text jumps back and forth from story to story often, and towards the end a lot of familiar instances of text are repeated. Again, this repetition and scattered story telling seems intentional. It helps illustrate the thoughts of the victims. On one hand, the reader gets to read actual quotes from the victims telling their stories. On the other hand, the scatter of the stories leaves the reader slightly confused the whole time, the reader is always unsure what's going to be told next and doesn’t know any more about the story than they are told. This feeling of uncertainty is shared with the reader and the victims.
I am a fan of the poetry and tone of the text. Hazel Smith chose quotes and words that are rich in emotion. Phrases like “I thought” or “He promised '' show the vulnerability of the victims and leaves the reader heartbroken. Skillful fragmentation allows for Smith to be effective without being overbearing. Placing text exactly where it needs to be to keep the reader interested and unencumbered. I believe the text alone could be effective on paper as a standalone poem, Though it might have slightly less emotion as the full digital piece does.
<img src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/9YbKhnpKQOQ/maxresdefault.jpg" width="500" height="300" alt="Two foxes">
[[Home->Motions]] Graphics in *Motions*
Will leurs chooses to use layers of graphics on each page. The combination of backgrounds and graphics in the foreground make the piece very aesthetically pleasing. Each page has a background consisting of an over zoomed, blurry collage of colors, lights, cars and faces. Things tend to be moving in the background, whether it is large, transparent words or a picture. This movement adds to the kinetic poetry aspect and allows for the piece to feel less static. The colors are usually a cool blue or a warm red, all with a dark gradient effect. These dark, confusing backgrounds add to the somber tone of the piece. The foreground has clearer images and gifs.The graphics in the foreground stand out with a border or movement in the beginning of a page. If a graphic in the foreground is moving in the beginning, it is only to grab attention and will stop moving shortly. Any blur effect is intentional, usually over the face of the victim in the picture. The images and gifs are focused, usually on a body part or a specific thing/person.
I think the graphics are effective in enforcing the mood of the piece. The dark backgrounds give an initial sense of gloom, allowing the foreground to focus on the details of the pages specific point. Some pages deal with vulnerable quotes, to match, Leurs uses a picture of a woman with a blurred face sitting on a bed. It is unclear what the picture is implying, but the intimacy of a bedroom still clearly communicates that level of vulnerability in the text.
<img src="https://southerlyjournal.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/screen-shot4.jpg" width="500" height="300" alt="Two foxes">
[[Home->Motions]] Sounds in *Motions*
Roger Dean’s composition of sound features instruments played out of tune, sounds of trains and doors opening and the occasional quote in a robotic voice. When the piece is first opened, the sound of a plane flying by fades into the sounds of a rolling train. This is what the reader hears when they are reading about the train analogy. The sound of the train and wind continue to play until a slight tapping of percussion enters the mix. This eventually becomes a full instrumental featuring samples of middle eastern music in the beginning. As the reader gets further into the piece, they might not notice the composition shift into this unsettling blend of percussion and out of tune piano. Beneath the piano and percussion are these stretched out, distorted noises. The provide a sense of continuation between the piano and percussion late in the piece. Each sound Dean chose is something designed to unsettle and when he put them all together, it is best not played in public.
Though intimidating, I think the sound for this piece is another crucial element. It changes the reader's perception in obvious and subtle ways. To even a stranger walking by the computer, this soundtrack would be creepy. It is an obvious attempt to unsettle. Perhaps even more unsettling is how unnoticeable the changes are. I hadn’t noticed the drastic change in sound until I really focused on what I was hearing. Just as unoticable, the frequencies and distorted sounds will raise the hair on the reader and the percussion will adjust their heartbeat. Sound can impact a listener’s body in so many ways. When paired with a poem like this, it creates opportunity unreachable by traditional poetry.
<img src="https://cdn2.vectorstock.com/i/1000x1000/41/11/musical-notes-background-music-notation-sheet-vector-23234111.jpg" width="500" height="300" alt="Two foxes">
[[Home->Motions]] Electronic Literature can be tricky to define. The Electronic Literature Organization defines it as “Works with important literary aspects that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the standalone or networked computer.” “Important literary aspects” means any employed and written language with a narrative or purpose containing themes etc. “Take advantage of the capabilities and contexts by the standalone or networked computer” includes everything not possible in a book. Most often, the electronic aspects of electronic literature come in the form of links, scrolling, and layered forms of media (sound, video, text.) When applied appropriately, these elements can produce a piece of literature that moves, flows, and interacts with the reader in ways traditional literature never could.
<img src="https://eliterature.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-elo_logo_vector.jpg" width="500" height="300" alt="Two foxes">
[[Back->Motions]]      Works Cited
“Chapter 5 .” Electronic Literature, by Scott Rettberg, Polity Press, 2019.
“Electronic Literature Organization.” Electronic Literature Organization, eliterature.org/.
Smith, Hazel, et al. -Motions-, collection.eliterature.org/3/works/motions/motions-desktop.html.