reading (present continuous)

Description

This project attempts to explore, encourage and experiment with the act of reading. It regards reading and the attendant task of extracting meaning from text as a personal and subjective experience. Thus I have designed a system that presents a reading of a text, but not necessarily the text itself.

The system displays the text with only one instance of each word shown at any particular time. The reader interacts with the text via the mouse to reveal hidden words, but at the same time hides what was previously visible. The system attempts to demand significant attention from the user in order convey meaning. The act of reading is slowed down and the agency of the reader enforced. As only some of the words appear at any time, the user is forced to determine the order in which words are revealed and the ability of a reader to manipulate meaning manifests.

The text I chose to work with is the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I feel that a text such as this deserves a reading full of attention and focus. It needs be read slowly and thus suits the more involved (and more difficult) reading required by this system. It also ties in thematically, as if one carefully selects words from the declaration, alternate and sometimes contrary declarations emerge.

Instructions

Click the applet to give it focus. Mouse over blank areas to reveal words. Move mouse to lower area of applet to scroll down, move mouse to upper area of applet to scroll up. Press + to increase the scroll speed, press - to decrease the scroll speed.

View the project

 

Inspiration

"Today, one of the churches of Tlon platonically maintains that a certain pain, a certain greeenish tint of yellow, a certain temperature, a certain sound, are the only reality. All men in the vertiginous moment of coitus are the same man. All Men who repeat a line from Shakespeare are William Shakespeare"
    Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, Jorge Luis Borges

In "The Garden of the Forking Pathss", Borges describes a world in which multiple worlds may possibly exist at the same time independant of each other. I began to relate this to the idea of extracting multiple meanings from a single text. The above quote gave me the idea for the mechanism by which i could explore the multiplicity of meanings in any text. The literal translation of the idea that there was only one instance of any word in existence at any time and writing was simply the act of arranging them in a particular order led to this piece.