Digital Poetry Interfaces
+ play these creatures +
  • Responsive

    Interactive

  • Tile Design

    Interface

  • Customizability

    Poetry

  • Customizability

    Textual Playthings

Calling myself a digital poet is both bizarre and wondrous. I build/birth all manner of strange interactive creatures where the user-reader becomes player and co-author. Explore and Play and Lose Yerself!
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An Introduction of Sorts

Jason Nelson Digital Poetry Interfaces

I am the inventor of these inventions about an inventor and his inventions. More is revealed through the conception and life of a creature than its dissection. And this exegesis will be as much a narrative of my artistic/poetic/technical journey as a purely academic analysis of my work. Digital poems are live, reactive organisms, whose movements and responses are driven by their brains-code and body-interface. It is this underlying code-interface that ties together all my odd and curious digital poems. But how do the various mechanisms of interactive interfaces drive the creative process, the poetic content, and the user/reader experience? While my PhD – its digital poems and the accompanying exegesis – will not definitively answer these questions, it will explore their relationship to the poetic creatures I’ve built since 2004.

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Sydney's Siberia

Infinitely Zooming Mosaic

It is not technology making our wires, nodes and swimming data streams, our ever growing networks, beautiful. Instead it is the stories/poetics, the forever coalescing narratives that form the inter/intranet into a vitally compelling mosaic. To explore, simply mouse-over/navigate to an appealing square, click and click, read, contemplate connections and repeat. Sydney’s Siberia recreates how networks build exploratory story-scapes through an interactive zooming/clicking interface. Using 121 poetic/story image tiles, the artwork dynamically generates mosaics, infinitely recombining to build new connections/collections based on the users movements. The images/texts come from exploring Newcastle, Australia as a patchwork, a complex mix of architectural tendrils, whose stories extend to and are strained by the overshadowing behemoth of Sydney to the West.

Explore Sydney's Siberia (poem opens in a new window)

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game, game, game and again game

Game Engine

GGGAG is a digital poem, game, and anti/pro-design statement. The western world’s surroundings, belief systems, designed culture-games, create the built illusion of clean lines and definitive choice, cold narrow pathways of five colors, three body sizes and capsule philosophy. Within new media art the techno-filter extends these straight lines into exacting geometries and smooth bit rates. This game attempts to re-introduce the hand-drawn, the messy and illogical into the digital, via a retro-game. Hovering above and attached to the poorly drawn aesthetic is a personal examination of how we/I continually switch and un-switch our dominate belief systems. Moving from faith to real estate, from chemistry to capitalism, triggering corrected poetry, jittering creatures.

Explore GGGaG (poem opens in a new window)

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Graphoem: Videograph Writings

Graphs and Statistics

Statistical data is often coldly displayed, used for factual representations. Graphoem: Video graph Fictions recontextualizes graphs and other data through interactive interfaces to create a series of fictional artworks exploring pop-culture. Few digital fictions have layered fiction over video driven by responsive graphs, and this work pioneers the intersection of pop-culture and digital poetry expression. Indeed it is often cited as one of the first digital poems to use statistical data as the driving narrative force. This kind of re-mixing of formats is integral to contemporary new media arts and electronic literature.

Explore Graphoem → (poem opens in a new window)

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Project Two

The Bomar Gene

Various Combined Interfaces

Within every human there is a singular gene, unique only to that individual. And with that gene comes a singular ability, a rare, mostly never realized capacity for interacting with the world. The Bomar Gene explores this mythical gene, through a series of ficto-biographies, with each story being retranslated and spatialized through interactive interfaces and embodied animations. Each section opens up to such questions as: How are we defined by our genetic code? What does it mean to be an individual, to be unique? What are the implications of a society obsessed with rare abilities and super-powers? An interactive fiction/poetry hybrid.

Explore Bomar Gene → (poem opens in a new window)

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i made this. you play this. we are enemies.

Game Engine

IMTYPTWAE is an art game, interactive digital poem which uses game levels built on screen shots from influential community based websites/portals. And using messy hand drawn elements, strange texts, sounds and multimedia layering, the artwork lets users play in the worlds hovering over and beneath what we browse, to exist outside/over their controlling constraints. Your arrow keys and space bar will guide you, with the occasional mouse click begging for attention.

Explore IMTYPTWAE (poem opens in a new window)

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Wittenoom

Various Combined Interfaces

Digital poetry should surround the reader, to encompass them in the experience, to entice their hands and eyes to move with the language and explore the interface. It’s critical for digital writers to see the interface, visuals, sounds, and movements as poetic/fiction elements. Multimedia and interface components are not just navigational holiday lights to pretty up the place, they add/change/expand the artwork. Within this work, I designed a responsive creatures as both fun to play and allow the reader to jump between texts, to read in their own ordering, to non-linearly explore the inherently non-linear nature of poetry. Layering is also of prime importance, as creating a sense of thematic and visual depth, embeds the poetry in a larger world, a more complex poetic.

Explore Wittenoom (poem opens in a new window)

Quotation
Quotation
In the simplest terms Digital Poems are born from the combination of technology and poetry, with writers using all multi-media elements as critical texts. Sounds, images, movement, video, interface/interactivity and words are combined to create new poetic forms and experiences.
— Jason Nelson
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Six Sided Strange

The Cube

Six Sided Strange is a net-artwork series built from unsolvable Rubik's cubes and hidden narratives, from pixilated game character collages to abstract streams of color and lines. The cube is central to how we organize and understand. It is a puzzle of unsolvable junctures, a humanistic shape created to order and organize. Six Sided Strange disrupts the cube, wandering inside/around the recombinatory playground of Rubik's 56 squares, exploring how images and designs relate to narrative. These are interactive/dynamic sculptures, brief storylands, and all manner of wonderments. There is nothing to win, but then again there never was. Screen based digital art often suffers from two-dimensional limitations and lacks true interaction. These cubes pioneer the use of true 3-d interactive screen based spaces. And with a total of 12 different cubes, each section explores new ways these spaces can be artistically and poetically used, from abstract to remixing found images.

Explore Six Sided Strange → (poem opens in a new window)

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Hymns of the Drowning Swimmer

Various Combined Interfaces

This work is a hymnal, an 18-room church, a spring lake with patchy ice, a flooded department store. Each of the hymns/sections is a song, an interactive word/text stream, a memorial to the dying. These new media poems are intended to swim independently and as a collection. They are tied together in both textual theme (commercialism as religion and watery grave) and visual movement. This poem is a collection of interactive electronic creatures, floating poems of text, moving image, and sound. Splashing, water-born movement is tied to the drowning texts. Think of each hymn as a stage, both in physical presence and in developmental role. Each is a song translating the struggles of commercialism, the heavy wading arms of self discovery through purchase. Individually the works require exploration, the cursor swimming. Together they represent the stages of drowning, the art of diving too deep, the lungs bathing in the waves, grave wallets in water.

Explore HOTDS (poem opens in a new window)

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Evidence of Everything Exploding

Game Engine

Using a top down, platform engine (without gravity) EoEE is a game driven digital poem exploring various historical and contemporary texts. Each level’s poetic content is built from the document’s sub-sub texts and curious consequences. With Bill Gates’ letter to the Computer Brew Club about monetizing hobby computing, we find the seeds of an empire, James Joyce is caught in an infinite loop of changing texts, Fidel Castro’s boyhood letter to the US president praising America and asking for money signals an opportunistic future.

Explore EoEE → (poem opens in a new window)

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Scrape Scraperteeth

Game Engine

An interactive-art/ digital poetry game exploring the societal obsession with real estate investment. More specifically the artwork was created to examine the role of real estate in the recent Global Financial Crisis and to explore the use of game engines in digital poetry as it relates to multimedia art. The work attempts to break new ground in combining hand-drawn cityscapes as game-level designs with politically charged poetry trigger by the player/reader's movements. The work was created for SFMOMA's series on interactive literature curated by Brian Stefans, which represents one of the first times a major international gallery has commissioned such work. The artwork also designed to expand how artists and poets can use game engines as the primary interface for interacting and creating art. It also develops new methodologies for combining multiple media, used as vital poetic elements in a playable multi-level environment

Explore Scraperteeth (poem opens in a new window)

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a tree with managers and jittery boats

Forever Branching Menus

Multi-level menus as poetry generator, for when lines branch and branch. When writing a poem, often any line could generate out new directions, intersecting poems, branching possibilities. Using the modified code of a menu-sub-menu, I am experimenting with a poem within a poem within a poem. Enjambment as menu as poetic turn. A few factors I’m playing with: 1. the menu fade away timing (more or less?) 2. the mixing of various level depths 3. only one first entry, that extends to dozens of depths? 4. how else might this be used? 5. Rollover or On Press to trigger? I plan to continue with this work, plotting more complex poetic interactions between lines and nodes. Additionally, it might be interesting to interlink two or more deep menu poems. Of course this form of non-linearity is so complex that reading must become an entirely exploratory and focus-intensive activity.

Explore ATWMAJB (poem opens in a new window)

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Mysterious Basement Machines of the Prairie

Mouse Following and Controlled

With Adobe Flash losing favour among designers and device manufacturers, HTML5 JQuery and other software possibilities have started to supplant Flash’s interactive powers. This work is a sequel of sorts to my Uncontrollable Semantics. It’s created specifically for tablets and uses interactive elements which respond to cursor and swipe movement. Each of the sections is a new power, mysterious and unreachable and yet entirely engrossing.

Explore Basement Machines (poem opens in a new window)

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The Poetry Cube

Cube Interface

The Cube allows users/poets to enter a 16 line poem, with those lines automatically placed within the multi-layered sections. Use the buttons to move in and out, recombining the poems by turning the Cube upwards, downwards and inwards. Built to act as a bridge between the print and digital worlds. I would love to wax romantic about how all creations are important, either within a historical context or because they hold together as digital poems despite their shortcomings. And while this might be true for scholars or readers of my work, as an artist I see the first two cubes as experiments, trial runs, explorations of a form. I suppose an argument could be made about how all creations are experiments leading to the next generation of poets.I can say my intentions with the first two were firmly as playgrounds. While the last cube is an attempt at a complete work, or rather a complete interface. I make the distinction between work and interface, because most of the digital poems I create are in flux, in constant states of revision.

Explore The Poetry Cube (poem opens in a new window on the web)

Project Two
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Between Treacherous Objects

Depth Interface

Multi-dimensional layering within an interactive depth interface. Hidden secrets and interactive layers are packaged by our obsessions with objects and their terrible dark betweens. Between Treacherous Objects explores the space between various contemporary items/ideas. For example, between the Refrigerator and the Death Bed is a heavy lines and gradual space, where eating can fill your world, ending it as well. There are twelve levels, each playing with the depth of the screen, allowing the user to move in and out and around the floating space.

Explore BTO → (poem opens in a new window)

Video Poetry Translation discussion by Jason.

While not directly part of the PhD and only accessible via the video sharing site Vimeo, I've included this discussion about digital poetry translation commissioned by the International Poetry Festival

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Wide and Wildly Branded

Compass Interface

Digital poetry should surround the reader, to encompass them in the experience, to entice their hands and eyes to move with the language and explore the interface. Additionally, it’s critical for digital writers to see the interface, visuals, sounds, and movements a critical poetic or fictional elements. These multimedia and interface components are not just navigational holiday lights to pretty up the place, they add/change/expand the artwork. Within this work, I designed a responsive circular compass which is both fun to play and allows the reader to jump between texts, to read in their own ordering, to non-linearly explore the inherently non-linear nature of poetry. Layering is also of prime importance, as creating a sense of thematic and visual depth, embeds the poetry in a larger world, a more complex poetic. There are four layers, a mouse follower of lines and shapes, the video layer, the circular interactive interface and the loaded poetic texts

Explore WaWB → (poem opens in a new window)

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This is How You Will Die

Slot Machine Interface

A recombinatory slot game with 15 five-line death fictions/poetics. Each time the player pushes the spin button, a new death scenario comes to the screens. If the player wins more spins they can continue, if they lose, they have just forecasted their death. To create the random death scenarios, Jason wrote 15 short fictions, each divided into five sections: where you will die, how you will die parts one and two, and what happens after you die parts one and two. Each of these sections then become the channels of the Death Pokie machine. When all sections stop spinning, then you have a new random fiction sequence, a series of lines that form the story of your future demise.

Explore TiHYWD (poem opens in a new window)

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Birds Still Warm from Flying

Cube Interface

Interactive poetry cubes allowing multi-linear/dimensional play and reconfiguration. One possible reading is as 3-dimensional concrete poetry sculpture generator. The cube interface allows the reader to move the interface in 3-dimesional space, with the all elements placed on the cube transforming in proportion to the cube’s movement, perspective and warping is reasonably maintained as the cube is moved. Furthermore, each of the rows and columns can be moved to further recreate the placement and graphical nature of the poem. Each of the sides of the poem are colour coded to give the reader a reference point for the initial configuration of the interface, so changes become more apparent.

Explore BSWfF (poem opens in a new window)

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Textual Skyline

Statistics and Databases

Our webscapes and netvilles are increasingly dominated by short bursts of emotional language, brief stabs of charged textual opinion. And every minute those words build small cities of influence, beauty and terror, creating brief communities of poetic power. Textual Skyline explores these notions through a net¬-based interactive, generative and multidimensional flash engine/interface using RSS news feeds to create a digital poetry city. To create these strange cities actionscript code searches through designated news feeds for specific words or phrases that represent emotive states (death, victory, love, profit, attack, defend and a few hundred others). Then for each charged word a building block is placed on the screen, two layers deep, forming a skyline of poetic text and art. Additionally, each of the text blocks contain animated, hand drawn and other multimedia content. The finished work lets readers/users load RSS feeds from a variety of net communities (really any site with such a feed can be used), and as those feeds change so to will the digital poetry city (on reload).

Explore The Skyline (poem opens in a new window)

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Layering Follow

Mouse Controlled

Again title is five steps from terrible, if steps are the dirty fingernails of malpractice ready surgeons. The LayeringFollow can be described as paint with poetry. The user must interact with the placement and sequence of text. Although at times this interface might seem to generate unreadable sections, it creates a nice contrast between individual instance and overall appearance, the artwork of layering and the deciphering of the connections between lines. I quite enjoy how the poems begin to merge after a few different click and paints, forming new intersecting poetic lines. When playing with this creature think of color and size. Create intermissions of image or blank space. You can even try moving lines, but then your computer might break its ugly over-heated, over-clocked heart. You will notice in this example I include a second stanza with only images. Oh and there is no third stanza. Not yet, greedy, greedy person.

Explore Layering Follow → (poem opens in a new window)

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Sound Engine

Interactive Sound

An engine for creating simple interactive sound poems. The user drags sound icons to the screen, placing them in sequence and height for order and volume. Then, using a simple timeline, a line moves across the screen triggering sounds and looping back. Song-Like is a net musical instrument for the spoken word. To create a sound poem, the poet must consider multiple factors. Obvious statements spin out from the screen. Here they come. Here they come. Three syllables with no verb but come. First of course are the lines themselves, the bits of voice, noise, word, song. When recording your poetry consider all the usuals: volume, cadence, tone, tenor, speed, emphasis and of course the lovely words, those poetic accidentals, incidentals. A travel case for conversations. Of course understand that the user/reader will recombine them anywhere on the screen, as many times as suits them at that moment. It’s not as if you’ve given up, but more you’ve granted others the chance to be half or one quarter you, toying with your poetry genes, your chord-like bramblings. This is now a word.

Explore Sound Engine (poem opens in a new window)

    jason
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Alarmingly These are not Lovesick Zombies

Game Interface

A near unplayable art-game. Each level is built to be both won and lost, where the player shoots strange enemy objects with increasingly absurd and broken guns, and wildly deviating scoring systems. Behind the experience are odd hand-made videos of toy play and between the levels are narrative clips told with old matchbooks from small towns of the prairie. With perhaps the best title ever given to a game or otherwise, ATANLZ is both disrupted art-game and experience in frenetic madness, an interactive collage engine born from the pixilated undead.

Explore TiHYWD (poem opens in a new window)

Digital Poetry Discussion Part One discussion by Jason.

While not directly part of the PhD and only accessible via the video sharing site Vimeo, I've included this discussion about digital poetry I created for a class at Mary Washington University

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Messages for our Future

Japan Tsunami Mosaic

With every major event, every natural disaster or societal change there are a multitude of visions, thousands lenses documenting the experiences, the victories and the challenges. “Messages for our Future” recreates these visions through an interactive mosaic digital artwork which uses hundreds of images and poetic/enlightening texts captured by the citizens and students from the Japanese tsunami impacted city of Tohoku. Armed with cameras they captured scenes of rebuilding, of a hopeful future amidst the rubble and damage. Each of those images is a story, a forever inspiring narratives, and the artwork recombines them, forming compelling mosaic combinations with each exploration. Every time you move your mouse and click, you can explore new images and see new relationships between the stories, to infinitely zoom through a webbed mosaic of images and poetic texts. To explore, simply mouse-­‐ over/navigate to an appealing are of an image, click and click, read, contemplate connections and repeat, an interactive zooming/clicking interface.

Explore MFOF (poem opens in a new window)

Project Three
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xmas disaster generator

slot machine interface

A friend challenged me to create a holiday themed digital poem, with the results being this work. Often interfaces work well for one poem, but in reuse lose their poetic impact. Therefore, I was pleased the slot machine interface continued to build interesting poetic narratives through a new thematic lens.

Explore XMAS DG (poem opens in a new window)

Digital Poetry Discussion Part Two discussion by Jason.

While not directly part of the PhD and only accessible via the video sharing site Vimeo, I've included this discussion about digital poetry I created for a class at Mary Washington University

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Project Eight

Within Interface

Depth Interface

I’ve been using this interface for a while. Many of artworks/digital poems use its fancy fly into and out of your screen interface. And while that very movement might be difficult for some to explore, their brains being dizzy and fingers sore, it is really a wonderful plaything for poetic content. Think of this interface as ten or more (or less) planes in a deep 3-dimensional world. On the screen are always two existing artworks/poems, the visual depth of floating lines over floating lines, and the interactive explorative possibilities born from the user’s mouse movements. The example here is basic, so basically basic that my embarrassed is baked into my skin, a breaded crust, bitter and flaky. So think beyond what I’ve created. Have lines within lines, rollovers and clips which load into levels. Play with the interface and uncover how the motion will effect the meaning and reading of poetic lines. This is truly enjambment embodied, the ever breaking…ummm line break…but supa deep. Supa is better than super, just so you know.

Explore Within → (poem opens in a new window)

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Responsive Design

You Found A Secret Place

I am Sebastian Elk! Explore the 4th Search (poem opens in a new window) I was chosen for this arrangement, as was the person before me and before them, by an organisation not listed in any record. Unfortunately, decades ago, all communications from them ceased. And much to my concern and relief, I've recently decided to retire. Therefore, after satisfying the arrangement through far too many world and civil wars, changes in borders, flags and great moments of human ingenuity, I am forced to find my own replacement.

Creative Commons © 2013 Jason Nelson