Rebooting Electronic Literature, Volume 2: Documenting Pre-Web Born Digital Media

Traversal of Kathryn Cramer's "In Small & Large Pieces"

These videoclips reflect two different Traversals of Kathryn Cramer's "In Small & Large Pieces." The first, which took place on Friday, October 26, 2018 in the Electronic Literature Lab, was performed by Will Luers, CMDC faculty member and the winner of the “2018 The Robert Coover Award for a Work of Electronic Literature”. Luers read from a version of the work published on a 3.5-inch floppy disk running on a Macintosh Performa CD 5215 (1995). Handling the sound production was CMDC faculty member and sound artist John Barber. Greg Philbrook produced the live stream broadcast. This was the first Traversal of the 2018-19 season. The video was cut and edited by Moneca Roath, an Undergraduate Researcher in the Electronic Literature Lab. The second took place on March 25, 2021 in the Electronic Literature Lab and features the author performing the Traversal. Moderating is electronic literature scholar Astrid Ensslin. Because the event took place during the pandemic, it required Cramer and Ensslin to come into the lab  remotely via Zoom. Dene Grigar, the lab's director, manipulated the computer for Cramer who could see the screen via the Zoom. The performance was then streamed live via YouTube to the public. 

Traversal Series 1: October 26, 2018

Traversal of Kathryn Cramer's "In Small & Large Pieces," Introduction 

This video captures the approximately 6 minute long pre-show that took place in the Electronic Literature Lab prior to Will Luers’ live stream Traversal of Kathryn Cramer’s work, In Small & Large Pieces. People can be seen filing in and interacting with one another. The sound playing in the background is a sound art piece produced by Dr. John Barber. The video ends with the official trailer for the Pathfinders project.

Traversal of Kathryn Cramer's "In Small & Large Pieces," Part 1
This video clip starts off with Dene Grigar giving introductory comments for the live stream Traversal of Cramer’s In Small & Large Pieces. Grigar welcomes faculty member, Will Luers. She also notes that this event is supported by the fellowship Buchanan family. She continues to welcome her seven undergraduate researchers, associate director Nicholas Schiller, sound director John Barber, and live stream director Greg Philbrook, who all help with the live stream and in the lab. Luers starts off by showing the cover of the work before opening the work on the computer. He points out the picture of Alice in Wonderland with some handwritten text on it, which he clicks on. He starts reading through chapter one.

Traversal of Kathryn Cramer's "In Small & Large Pieces," Part 2
In this video clip, Luers continues reading through the work. He clicks on the links to move to the next page. He notes that when he clicks on the word “backwards”, the text in the poem isn’t backwards, and continues reading. Next, he clicks on “Wonderland”, which takes him to a poem called Mirror. Luers also has the option to hit enter to go to the next page. As he continues reading, he notes that the poem changes to past tense. Luers clicks return and it goes to a poetry collection called “The Mona Lisa Has Been Raped” with many different poems in it. He clicks on “Mona Lisa”, and reads through the poem.

Traversal of Kathryn Cramer's "In Small & Large Pieces," Part 3
In this video clip, Luers continues to read “The Mona Lisa Has Been Raped”. Next, he reads Chapter 2: Injury & Breakage, clicking on the section “the pruning section” and reads through the poem. Luers clicks on “understand” which then shows a pop-up that gives him two directions to choose. He picks a direction, clicks on “living”, and an image with a face with its eyes and mouth jammed together appears. On the face, there are multiple links. He picks one and it leads to a collection of Xs. He clicks one of the Xs and it brings up a poem. Another pop-up appears with two directions and picks a direction and he reads through the poem. Next, he goes back to the table of contents and reads Chapter 4: The Unified Parent, and reads the section “the unified parent”. He finishes by reading through Chapter 6: The Mirror Shattered, Chapter 3: Anna Phantomwise, and Chapter 5: Scrambled Eggs.

Traversal of Kathryn Cramer's "In Small & Large Pieces," Q&A, Part 1
The question and answer session was facilitated by Dr. Dene Grigar, who opens the floor to questions. Luers notes that the work is composed of lexias which are pieces of text that link to other pieces. Grigar says that you can put boxes inside boxes to nest them and create lines to draw a web and see the interconnections between the boxes. A student in the lab asks how many links are in the work. Grigar says that there are 550 lexias. Luers adds that it was interesting that some of the links went to the same place as other links.

Traversal of Kathryn Cramer's "In Small & Large Pieces," Q&A, Part 2
A student from the online audience asks if the story was coming from a place of truth. Dene Grigar answers by saying she’s unsure, but usually authors don’t write about their lives. Grigar notes that she loves these types of events because literature can be read out loud, which makes the text more powerful than if it were to be read alone. A student from the lab asks about analyzing the typography. Luers says that when the text gets big and bold, it reminds him of a cinematic title and calling attention to a single moment; whereas, the poem was smaller, denser, and lighter. He notes that the visual typography helps the reader to know what’s happening. A student from the live audience asks how one will create hypertext 25 years from now. Luers says he’s waiting for software that allows us to connect hypertext with video.

Traversal Series 2: March 25, 2021

Kathryn Cramer's Traversal of "In Small & Large Pieces,” Part 1

Astrid Ensslin introduces the work and the Traversal, which will be conducted over a YouTube transmission on a MacIntosh Classic II running System Software 7.1. In Small and Large Pieces was originally published in spring of 1994, in Vol.1, Issue 3 of the Eastgate Quarterly Review of Hypertext, bundled with Kathy Mac’s “Unnatural Habitats” (see REL 4). Ensslin shares that In Small and Large Pieces is the second-most densely linked of all Eastgate works, after Victory Garden, and is promoted on the Eastgate catalog as “a postmodern Through the Looking Glass.” Comparing this Traversal to the 2019 Will Luers Traversal also included in this book, Ensslin says that this Traversal will include the original fonts of In Small and Large Pieces and Cramer herself using audience feedback to select links.

Cramer then takes the floor, describing how “back in prehistoric times” she would let the audience choose the links to follow through the work and will attempt to do the same with this Traversal, although the time lag of the transmission might make it difficult. She shares how the work took “a year and a half to write, and was obsolete in about a year” because of the CD-ROM revolution. She describes touring the country sharing the hypertext with audiences at bookstores, and staying with Deena Larsen in Colorado, a roadtrip experience that shapes the way she sees the work. Cramer reads the E.M. Forster quote on Gertrude Stein’s experimental writing that begins In Small and Large Pieces, which describes his sympathy for Stein’s mission of abstracting language by scrambling word order, and concludes that she is “over the precipice.”

Kathryn Cramer's Traversal of "In Small & Large Pieces,” Part 2

Kathryn Cramer's Traversal of "In Small & Large Pieces,” Part 3

Kathryn Cramer's Traversal of "In Small & Large Pieces,” Part 4

Kathryn Cramer’s Traversal of “In Small & Large Pieces,” Q&A, Part 1

Kathryn Cramer’s Traversal of “In Small & Large Pieces,” Q&A, Part 2

Kathryn Cramer’s Traversal of “In Small & Large Pieces,” Q&A, Part 3



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