There are two main authoring platforms at the center of this project: Scalar, a media-rich scholarly authoring environment; and a customized interactive edition of Cavendish's hybrid textual production that will ultimately be fully integrated into the Scalar platform.
The Scalar navigational matrix allows for readers to follow various "paths" through the text, providing a creative disruption to a more linear reading experience and allowing specific relationships in the works to emerge, across the texts themselves or within a specific keyword. The keyword paths for this project represent words that appear with substantial frequency in both the Observations and the Blazing World components of the texts (the "path" reading experience within Scalar will be fully realized with Phase II of the project).
The Scalar environment places considerable emphasis on the power of metadata as an authoring and text visualization tool. As such, the environment allows for the representation of relationships within texts, between multimodal elements in a text, and reproductions across scales of meaning that cannot be illuminated fluidly in an analog environment. Metadata, thus, becomes a kind of technical embodiment of the vibrant multiplicities to Cavendish's text. Mary Baine Campbell has remarked that Cavendish must construct her textual worlds from "the atom up": worlds and texts as scaled selves; texts that embody the platonic erotics of two female narrators; social crowds imagined inside singularities of time and space and single bodies; textual boundaries whose edges constantly shift and morph. The metadata features of Scalar allow for substantive creative play in manifesting such scalable and non-linear aspects of Cavendish's project.
In contemporary digital culture, the word "beta" refers to a system that is still in the works, still being tested and developed. In many ways, Scalar is a beta environment, to the extent that there are in-process elements and editions, along with unexpected glitches and open-ended possible outcomes. This beta aspect of Scalar embodies the very spirit of Cavendish's overall oeuvre. Cavendish's textual productions are open source experiments in crossing genres and connecting and disconnecting textual and narrative elements. She engages in serious play with the instabilities of creative, "figural" expression amid the frightening uncertainties of world-making across a micro and macro cosmos.
Phases of Observations Upon a Blazing World
All phases of this project are the results of a collaboration between the creator and author of the project, Jen Boyle, and Alli Crandell, coder and designer of all aspects of the interface and features of the emerging digital "book."
Phase one of this project consists of the development of a working draft of Cavendish's hybrid text, further identifying critical keywords and passages and their possible digital and analog relationships.
Phase two will see the development of a full digital edition of the two texts, consisting of the two texts and various contemporary and historical media artifacts, with texts, images, and contemporary and historical elements all "ghosting" one another within the reading interface and along various reading paths. This phase will also see the full integration of critical vignettes: interpretative creative-critical interventions worked into key moments in Cavendish's text. The "paths" function of the Scalar component will also be completed, allowing for a compendium in addition to the critical introduction that allows readers to follow keyword paths that appear with substantial frequency in both the Observations and the Blazing World components of the texts.
The final phase of the project, phase three, will offer a more fully integrated experience around Scalar's API, or Application Programming Interface, to experiment with a more textured imbrication of visualizations. Finally, we will move from the digital artifact back to the analog in producing an analog version of the text that itself plays with transitions between digital elements and print aspects of the text.