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

Traversal of Stuart Moulthrop's "Victory Garden"

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Traversal of Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden, Part 1
The live traversal for Stuart Moulthrop’s Victory Garden took place in the Electronic Literature Lab (ELL) on the campus of Washington State University Vancouver on July 9th, 2013. This traversal was broadcast with a live video feed from ELL. The video starts off with Moulthrop introducing the work and explaining what he sees on the screen. Next, he goes to the map overview which acts as an entry to the work. Moulthrop explains that Victory Garden is “a network of stories” and he wants the readers to have a rich and multiple experience of the text. He also says that even if one re-reads the story multiple times, they’ll still get a different encounter with each read. As he reads through the work, he mentions that the reader will have the option to choose between two words that will go next in the screen. He notes that the screens are also called “places” or “lexis”. Moulthrop continues to pick between two words at each stop in the work until he reaches the center/outside of the labyrinth. Next, he talks about a convention of the text called running title. It’s important because it juxtaposes the lexias and confuses the reader, which is what Moulthrop wants. He notes that each entry point is thematic and relates to watching television. Moulthrop hits the return key, which will sends him to a default choice.

Traversal of Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden, Part 2
As Moulthrop traverses the hypertext, he clicks on the words he’s interested in to go to the next lexia. He clicks on “war” and it takes him to “Need to Know”. Moulthrop notes that this was reached by default because there wasn’t a specific link in place that said to click that word. He also notes that if the reader uses the TinkerBell keys (Option + Command), it’ll show the boxed links in the text and show which words will have a link to it. He continues to pick on words that interest him to go to the next lexia. He can also click the return key to go to the next lexia by default. He clicks on “Tom Brokaw” and the lexia takes him out of the narrative of watching television and into a different strand of narrative.

Traversal of Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden, Part 3
Moulthrop’s traversal continues as he reads through more lexias. After reading “Buildup”, he hits the return key, which takes him to a default route. He reads “Games” and then picks a word that he finds interesting to go to the next screen. Next, he reads “Name That Game”, which takes him to a new narrative with new characters and new scenes. In “0.0”, it talks about how “rainbows…[have the] ability to create an anomalous space - not quite here, not quite not here”.

Traversal of Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden, Part 4
Moulthrop goes with the default choice and a black screen appears. He clicks on a hidden, buried link and he arrives at Slacktown. There’s “a strange hotel, all atrium and concrete pillars with glassine cephalopod elevators crawling up down and yes across the walls”. He clicks on “Information Kiosk” and it takes him to “Parabolic”. The “Information Kiosk looks kind of odd because it’s wearing a dark suit”. Next, it offers him two choices: “think Return if you’d like to hear it, or think No to cancel”. Moulthrop doesn’t click any of the obvious two choices and instead clicks on “theology”, and it takes him to “In Control”. He notes that the italics in “Now” Is from a famous short story by Jorge Luis Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths”. Borges’ work was also a major inspiration for Victory Garden. Next, Moulthrop clicks on a lexia and it brings him back to the beginning, making it a closed loop. He ends the traversal by saying that “one passage through multiple layers and versions of the contradictory draft will bring us back to where we started”.

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