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"Endless Suburbs" by M.D. Coverley
But to me, it somehow suggested the replication of objects in a nearly infinite manner -- a duplicating machine -- churning out objects like cars, like houses, like Southern California. -M. D. Coverley, narrabase.net
About the work
Endless Suburbs by M. D. Coverley is inspired largely by the software that it was created in. By utilizing a collection of online java applets, the work is reminiscent of a book with duplicate pages. M. D. Coverley believed that this sense of repetition brought to mind a machine creating identical products in a never-ending assembly line. Deciding on this theme, she created a list of single-paragraph stories about generic American ideals, such as owning a nice car, finding love, buying a house, and working full-time. But as the stories go on, america quickly falls into chaos: “Everybody is working full-time to support twelve cars and 10,000 square feet of living space. No one can drive anywhere because of traffic.”
When a user enters the site, they are shown an image of a family and a car accompanied by the words “You want one of each. So we make a lot.” They are then presented with the title and author of the work, along with a gif of cars being printed like pages of a book. Beside the image is a link that reads “Is something going wrong with this machine? Just push a button.” This is foreshadowing the next screen, which places story titles on the left and short paragraphs on the right. When read together, the titles themselves tell the story of malfunctioning equipment, and increasing panic as the machine continues to produce despite attempts to shut it off. Images of a car accompany each of these titles, which are gradually altered until the car eventually explodes. The stories on the right also become more chaotic over time, which detail the lives of various people thriving and struggling in america.
About the Author
M. D. Coverley is the pen name of Marjorie Luesebrink. As a hypermedia fiction author, she is most famous for her works Califia and Egypt: The Book of Going Forth by Day. Though she initially published short stories and articles in print, she started working with computers in the early 1980s and began writing for in-hand media and the WWW in 1995. Her work has been published in BeeHive, The Blue Moon Review, Riding the Meridian, The Iowa Review Web, frAme, and Salt Hill, among other places. At present, she is a member of the board of directors of the Electronic Literature Organization.
This is the first page presented to users when entering the site. It is an image of a family getting into a car, accompanied by the words "You make one of each. So we make a lot."
This is the interface for the main portion of the work. Stories can be selected on the left and displayed on the right.
This is a screenshot of the first story in the list. The stories become more chaotic as the user reads on.
This is a screenshot of one of the more chaotic stories.
Links to the work
"Endless Suburbs" has been recorded in Rhizome's webrecorder. Additionally, it has been crawled by the Wayback Machine. A link to Coverley's plate in The Progressive Dinner Party is also provided below.
View "Endless Suburbs" by M.D. Coverley in the Webrecorder
View the web archive link
Coverley, M.D. “About.” Califia.us. 1999, https://califia.us/about.htm. Accessed 6 July 2019.
“Marjorie Luesebrink”. Wikipedia. Last edited 15 June 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjorie_Luesebrink. Accessed 6 July 2019.
“M.D. Coverley.” dtc-wsuv.org. http://dtc-wsuv.org/elit/elo2012/elo2012/Coverley.html. Accessed 6 July 2019.
“M. D. Coverley: Tin Towns and other Excel Fictions”. Narrabase.net. http://www.narrabase.net/coverley_tin_towns.html. Accessed 6 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.