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Teaching and Learning Multimodal Communications

Alyssa Arbuckle, Alison Hedley, Shaun Macpherson, Alyssa McLeod, Jana Millar Usiskin, Daniel Powell, Jentery Sayers, Emily Smith, Michael Stevens, Authors

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Plaintext Performance: Media Types

As you can see in the attached screencast, in many ways "Plaintext Performance" looks like a standard HTML document, composed of media types that are, appropriately, text-based. The public-facing text is encoded in HTML, and JavaScript creates the jerky, scrolling motion of the screen, allowing the piece's viewers to decide whether to receive the information passively, or to engage with the work by scrolling their mouse or trackpad.

Viewers of this piece might experience the odd feeling of reading unfamiliar code: the text of the work is human-readable in fits and starts, but lacks a holistic, coherent meaning. Interestingly, Magnhildøen embeds metadata into the text of the "performance," listing in detail the original performance time at the Tate Modern (Monday, October 16, 2006, from 6:30 to 8pm), and Magnhildøen's personal thanks to the exhibit's coordinators, including Alan Sondheim. This static, plaintext work effectually functions as a page source for Magnhildøen's original autographic performance at the Center for Literary Computing. The online audience of "Plaintext Performance" is left with an incomplete, mechanistic understanding of the performed piece, much like how the reader of an unformatted HTML document might imagine the finished web page.

Author: Alyssa McLeod
Word Count: 192
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