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"Girl/Birth/Water/Death" by Martha Conway
She always jumped before. Or -- it was not really a jump, it was a fall really, with her arms stretched above her and her pressed-together palms praying in a triangle above her head, her head bent in between looking down, down to the water below like her mother told her, a practice is what her mother calls it, and shutting her eyes, letting her toes not spring but give the slightest lean-push off the scratchy green board and behind her eyes in darkness feeling the fall.
About the Work
This work by Martha Conway is hosted by Enterzone, which maintained and published articles quarterly online. Due to its simplicity, Girl/Birth/Water/Death was commonly used to teach hypertext theory and practice.
In order to navigate the work, the user must choose between one to four different buttons: “Girl”, “Birth”, “Water”, or “Death”. Each button is a hyperlink to a different passage of text, which (depending on the buttons clicked) tell a slightly different story with each runthrough. The first passage describes a little girl jumping from a diving board into the water below, which acts as a metaphor for the rest of the narrative.
About the Author
Martha Conway’s works have been published in a number of journals, including Massachusetts Review, Carolina Quarterly, Puerto del Sol, Mississippi Review Web, and Enterzone. She won a California Arts Council Fellowship for Creative Writing in 1997. She has also authored novels such as Thieving Forest, Sugarland, 12 Bliss Street, and The Underground River.
This is the title page of the work. The passage describes the girl about to dive off of a board into the water below, which will serve as a metaphor for the rest of the narrative.
In order to traverse the work, the user will have to choose between 1 to 4 buttons: Girl, Birth, Water, and Death.
The metaphor presented at the work's start is wrapped up in the final passage.
Links to the work
"Girl/Birth/Water/Death" has been recorded in Rhizome's webrecorder. Additionally, it has been crawled by the Wayback Machine. A link to Conway's plate in The Progressive Dinner Party is also provided below.
View "Girl/Birth/Water/Death" in the Webrecorder
View the web archive link
“About the Author: Conway.” Enterzone.org. 1998, https://web.archive.org/web/19990220220119/http://ezone.org/ez/authors/conway.html. Accessed 11 July 2019.
“Disclaimer.” Enterzone.org. 1998, http://ezone.org/ez/disclaim.html. Accessed 11 July 2019.
“Hypertext Resources.” Eastgate Systems, Inc. 1999, https://www.eastgate.com/hypertext/WebHypertext.html. Accessed 11 July 2019.
"Novels.” MarthaConway.com. http://marthaconway.com/novels/. Accessed 11 July 2019.
39 Works Key
To present the 39 restored works, a system was devised involving tags and organizing them alphabetically by title. The works themselves can be viewed in alphabetical order in the next page, and the tag descriptions can be found here. These tags serve to provide a brief overview regarding the key features of each piece for the reader's convenience.
Area maps are used to create images with clickable areas. They are usually presented as a <map> tag towards the end of an <img> tag, followed by a list of screen coordinates. Though rarer, area maps is included as a tag because of the unique functionality it introduces, allowing users to hover over various spots on an image to access different hyperlinks.
This is for works that include auditory components.
Broken or Missing works
Unfortunately, not all of the local files for the works within The Progressive Dinner Party could be obtained. This was either because the work no longer existed (such as Slattery’s Glide) or because contact could not be made with the author for missing files. When possible, an external link to the most complete version of the work was provided in the website.
This tag is applied to works that were produced by multiple artists.
Works that used Adobe Flash to produce animations or sounds were given this tag. Unfortunately, all support for Adobe Flash in modern web browsers will be dropped in December 2020; thus it was imperative that these works were restored within the Webrecorder to ensure their survival.
Frame sets are used in HTML to divide the screen into sections, or "frames", that coexist while simultaneously remaining separate from each other. These are works that use frames as main components for separating menus, images, buttons, and more.
GIFs (Graphic Interchange Format) are still or animated images used by works to introduce animations with technology other than software such as Adobe Flash or Shockwave.
High Level Interactivity
On occasion, a work will demand greater participation on the users part than average to experience the work.
This tag specifies works that focus on hyperlinking text as a way of communicating messages.
Though many of the works featured in The Progressive Dinner Party include images, some of them cannot be easily navigated without them. Such works may be using images as the main way of presenting the piece. Others may include images to provide critical visual cues, such as written cues (like Home, Back and Next), or non-written cues (like arrows and other icons.)
For works that are presented in a linear fashion.
This includes hypertexts that are unusually large, usually as a result of collaboration from one or more artists.
Refreshing the page to redirect users to another is a fairly common practice among these web artists.
Many of the works relied on software produced by companies. Though Adobe Flash and Shockwave are considered proprietary, they were unique and used often enough to justify separate tags.
Artists on the web have many different methods of presentation at their disposal, which includes featuring their work as a slideshow.
This tag is given to works that utilize tables in an important way, such as for images or overlaying content.
This is for works that include video components.
This tag is applied to works utilizing Adobe Shockwave. Though support for Shockwave was dropped in April 2019, Shockwave plugins are still available for certain browsers. Thus, it was imperative that these works were restored with the Webrecorder to ensure their survival.
Micro hypertexts are characterized by their small size. This isn’t to say that they aren’t full of interesting content or meaningful connections. On the contrary, hypertext author Deena Larsen argues that micro hypertexts serve to prove that a hypertext is not to be judged solely on its size, but rather on the connections linking content within it. (New River 6 Author’s Note.) The following works within the Progressive Dinner Party match this description, providing users with quick hypertexts that still carry meaning through their structure, links, and storytelling.
Not all of these works are hypertexts in the traditional sense. While Mountain Rumbles by Deena Larsen carries the style of more classic hypertexts, works such as Light is Silent by Jennifer Ley incorporate interactive imagery to supplement the text. Girl/Birth/Water/Death by Martha Conway is another example, which allows users to make choices using various combinations of buttons displayed beneath the text. Despite these differences, the following works all share common elements such as hypertextual linking, short fragments of text, and user agency with regards to navigation.
Girl/Birth/Water/Death by Martha Conway
Mountain Rumbles by Deena Larsen
LiLy Pond: a poststructural gardening thriller by Jyanni Steffenson
Light is Silent by Jennifer Ley
Cutting Edges or A Web of Women by Ruth Nestvold