Digital Academics

88 Constellations by David Clark

88 Constellations

I want to say that this work, though cinematic, does not have that feel to me. I do not want to call it a novel either. It feels like avant-garde creative non-fiction, if there is even such a thing (also, I know that this classification may represent an overly academic need to categorize accurately the things that I read or consume). What is literary about this to me is the linking of words, or symbols, to broader expositions, showing that a symbol encapsulates a great deal, meaning that no one word is really just one word but is really a connection of a great number of ideas symbolized together in the image of the word on the page. I think that mixing of mediums in this work did a fantastic job of trying to point a person toward the idea that a word is not just a word and as you explore the ideas inside one word, you are lead to explore more and more words and thus to keep exploring an infinite number of ideas. Though the words, symbols, and ideas in this work are not technically infinite, they give the sense that they may be. Because this work explores ideas like this, I feel that it is literary, at least within the confines of what I have grown to think of the idea of literature.

OK. Now I need to go let me head cool down, and marvel at the fact that I just witnessed a work that links Carmen Miranda and Hitler with only a couple clicks of the mouse between them.

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2 thoughts on “88 Constellations by David Clark

  1. This is so apt, Jake:
    “What is literary about this to me is the linking of words, or symbols, to broader expositions, showing that a symbol encapsulates a great deal, meaning that no one word is really just one word but is really a connection of a great number of ideas symbolized together in the image of the word on the page.”

    Tara also spent time ruminating on what she called the “encyclopedic” quality of the interface; I love that you weighed Clark’s gesture of pattern-making, observing, “I just witnessed a work that links Carmen Miranda and Hitler with only a couple clicks of the mouse between them.” It’s that “couple of clicks” that feels so truant, such a defiance of how we think of history with its linear stories and assurances pent up in causal chains. Kate Hayles calls the pattern making in 88C “apophynia” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophenia], which is a lens you might enjoy playing with Jake. I do.

    Lovely work. Eager to hear your thoughts after your “head cools down.”

    Is there such a thing for you?

  2. swarlos says:

    I really liked the process of linking random things together in this work, but I also appreciated how there was actually a strange feeling of connectedness as you move through the work. The things that were shown as links were generally mentioned in the piece that was just read, or actually had a logical connection. The real randomness came about when you realize where you have ended up on this guided journey in comparison to where you started.

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