Seaman. Interactive Text and Recombinant Poetics—Media-Element Field Explorations.

Wardrip-Fruin, Noah, and Pat Harrigan. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2004. Print.

Critical Article PresentationJulie Pavlick
Overview:
Bill Seaman’s article focuses on the future of digital media, regarding the sensual body in terms of its interaction with texts. Seaman addresses the lack of interaction between the body and reading, initiating the idea that we have been lackadaisical in our progression of the role our bodies play in regards to how we interact with texts. We are engrossed with new technologies each year, yet we are still reading the same way as we always have. He discusses the use of Virtual Worlds (and other “computer-related media environments”) where the user is able to be in an environment that exhibits “emergent meaning.” In the Virtual Worlds, the user is not bound by the text, but free to construct new meanings of media elements and text as well. Through this experience, Seaman believes we are able to break free of the traditional way of reading and enter into a sphere that allows a different experience with different outcomes. Seaman argues that the new environments such as Virtual Worlds will not limit the reader like the book has.

  • Recombinant Poetics-“the ability to experience, generate, operate on, store, edit, and disseminate meaningful patterns of experience” (227).

Commentary:
I think the ideas of Bill Seaman are progressive and refreshing, although his article leaves much to contemplate. I somewhat agree with Jill Walker’s response where she says, “…but when I actually meet these art works I feel shackled to their rules: sit here, press this button and only this button, move the mouse, follow those links, watch this, move this, walk down these narrow paths” (234). Seaman expresses that the virtual environments allow a reader to become “unhinged,” but it is only allowing as much freedom as the author has intended of the literature.

I was interested in Diane Gromala’s response where she explains a lot more than Seaman does. This idea of the body connected with the text is something she is also interested in working with and the example of the heartbeat made the idea cohesive for me. She explains, “So, for example, the font “throbs” as the user’s heart beats, and grows tendrils and spikes, as the user becomes “excitable” (231). This gave me an idea of how a person could become more sensually involved with the text.

Discussion:
What kind of ways do you think it would be possible to increase interaction between the body and the text?