Reading Project

By Jessica Pressman, Mark C Marino and Jeremy Douglass



Reading Project

Annotation -- Tachistoscope Code -- levels

var index = math.random();
if (index>.875) {
level = 0;
// the level always purges added backgrounds
_level0.centerPoint.level2Effect_mc.unloadMovie();
_level0.centerPoint.level3Effect_mc.unloadMovie();
// set blue background color
myColor.setRGB(0x0099CC);
mySubliminalColor.setRGB(0x000000);

From Reading Project
First, we notice that the code chooses which level will be displayed, and it does so using the “math.random” function to draw from eight evenly apportioned segments (setting level 1 in the range of .75 to .825) (lines 1–4). As a result of equal division, no display effect is likely to be displayed more than any other. We also notice that, if we call only the base level 0 the original display mode, then Project spends seven eighths of the time in distraction mode. In other words, though I’m referring to these other seven levels and their effects as “distractions,” the majority of the playthrough of Project is comprised of story text accompanied by these additional visual and sonic effects; this fact calls into question just how foundational the base level is. In that sense, it is foundational the way a jazz melody is: more often represented in variation than in its original form. 


Next in this sequence, the code creates some auditory distraction when it “attaches” the mp3 “My Song26.mp3” to the extraSound object. “My Song26” is a chord played with a vibrato effect on what sounds like a silent movie theater organ (line 5), increasing the eerie feeling of this layer. To the centerPoint object, the code attaches a movie to be played behind the words: “inwardGradient” is the name of the movie in the file’s library; “level4Effect_mc” is the name of this particular instance of that movie; and “111” refers to the display depth on the z-axis (line 8). The movie “inwardGradient” displays a yellow circle (with a gradient fill) that collapses in on itself within the duration of approximately one second. Poundstone adds a comment in the code that is worth notice here. He notes that this distraction will “get rid of purple background but allow orange-yellow if playing” (line 6). Here, “purple background” refers to the level3Effect, the pulsating concentric blue circles. The vortex, this iconic element of Project, is thus wiped from the screen during this level, proving it to be yet another effect rather than a constant backdrop. Finally the level sets the background color (“myColor”) to blue and subliminal word color (mySubliminalColor) to black (lines 10–11).

(Reading Project, 35-6)

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