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"Kokura (with Matthew Derby)" by Mary Kim Arnold
A Japanese city that was the primary target of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. On that morning, Kokura was shrouded in bad weather, and the mission's commander decided to drop the bomb on the secondary target. -Kokura by Mary-Kim Arnold
About the Work
In 1999, Mary-Kim Arnold wrote Kokura with Matthew Derby (whom she later married.) A Hypertext piece hosted by Eastgate Systems, Inc., the work was very experimental at the time. The first page presents the title and authors of the work and its sponsor, Eastgate Systems. When the user clicks on the word Kokura, a paragraph appears saying “Kokura: A Japanese city that was the primary target of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. On that morning, Kokura was shrouded in bad weather, and the mission's commander decided to drop the bomb on the secondary target.” The paragraph lingers long enough to read before the page refreshes and takes the user to a new interface. From here, links comprised of binary code go to different passages within the work, while text detailing test missile locations constantly change at the top of the screen. Each passage contains a small fragment of text about the bombing on Hiroshima. Every time a new passage is viewed, the user is presented with three links to go to: the first details the life of a female metalworker, one provides facts and statistics regarding the bomb, and one is a compilation of journal entries.
About the Author
Mary-Kim Arnold is a poet and hypertext writer who graduated with an MFA in Fiction from Brown University. While there, she attended a fiction writing workshop led by Robert Coover and learned Storyspace. She had the opportunity to study with other well-known elit authors including Bob Arellano, Michael Joyce, Kathryn Cramer, Carolyn Guyerr, and Shelly Jackson. Having written mostly poetry and fragmentary prose, Mary-Kim Arnold found the workshop intriguing. She stated that “...Storyspace boxes felt very exciting to me -- a kind of freedom that my text didn’t have to fill a page, didn’t have to propel a traditional narrative. That I could make links between things that were purely associative or sonic.” (Rebooting Electronic Literature vol. 1).
Mary-Kim Arnold has published writing in The Georgia Review, Hyperallergic, and The Rumpus, and is the co-editor of Mixed Korean: Our Stories. She teaches in Brown University’s Nonfiction Writing Program and gives writing workshops. She also co-chairs the Board of Directors for Dirt Palace, and has one the 2016 Essay Press Prize for one of her more popular works Litany for the Long Moment.
This is the starting screen of "Kokura". The text below the title reads "A Hypertext by Mary-Kim Arnold and Matthew Derby. Sponsored by Eastgate Systems, Inc. Publishers of fine hypertext since 1982." Clicking on the title takes the user to the work.
This paragraph appears long enough for users to read before redirecting them to the work. It reads "Kokura: A Japanese city that was the primary target of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. On that morning, Kokura was shrouded in bad weather, and the mission's commander decided to drop the bomb on the secondary target."
This is the interface of the starting menu, presenting the user with six links to choose from (some of which are written in binary.) At the top of the screen, text detailing bomb testing sites constantly shift.
Each passage within the work contains a small paragraph and three links below it to choose from. The first link details the life of a female metal worker, the second gives facts and statistics about the bombing, and the third is a compilation of journal entries.
Links to the work
"Kokura" has been recorded in Rhizome's webrecorder. Additionally, it has been crawled by the Wayback Machine. A link to Mary-Kim Arnold's plate in The Progressive Dinner Party is also provided below.
View "Kokura" in the Webrecorder
View the web archive link
Arnold, Mary-Kim and Derby, Matthew. Kokura. 1999, https://web.archive.org/web/20010707110344/http://www.eastgate.com/Kokura/. Accessed 5 July 2019.
Grigar, Dene. “Email Interview with Mary-Kim Arnold.” Rebooting Electronic Literature, vol. 1, 2017 http://scalar.usc.edu/works/rebooting-electronic-literature/email-interview-with-mary-kim-arnold. Accessed 6 July 2019.
“Mary-Kim Arnold.” Eastgate Systems, Inc. https://www.eastgate.com/people/Arnold.html. Accessed 6 July 2019.
“Mary-Kim Arnold.” ELMCIP. https://elmcip.net/node/7248. 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.
As the name implies, collaborative projects are built by more than one creator. There are two types of collaborative works within The Progressive Dinner Party that can be identified: collaborations involving only two people or collaborations built in an open environment that allows anyone to submit their own contributions from around the world.
The first of these works tend to be smaller and more condensed, and are the most consistent of the collaborations. This is likely due to there being fewer people to deliberate with about the work’s presentation, making decisions easier to come to. For instance, The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot carries the same presentation throughout the work, in everything from the color scheme to the structure of the poems to the user navigation.
Surprisingly, the public collaborations keep fairly good consistency due to submission guidelines and rules. They are also the most immense in size and complexity, with many hyperlinks branching out from one or more central areas. However, there is rarely a set time or goal regarding the end of the work (if there is one), and the direction the work takes can be unpredictable and difficult to coordinate. Dark Lethe is a good example of this, which has yet to present a conclusion to the main narrative despite its enormous size. Noon Quilt is also unpredictable in that not all of the patches within the quilt are occupied, though the style is very consistent throughout. Like these two works, Mother Millennia maintains a central theme and presentation, but is different since it does not having a specific ending point or space to fill.
Below is a list of collaborative works from within The Progressive Dinner Party. It should be noted that there may be other collaborative works not listed here that fit better in other categories (such as in the Flash and Shockwave category.)
Kokura by Mary-Kim Arnold
Mother Millennia by Carolyn Guyer
Noon Quilt by Sue Thomas and Teri Hoskin
Dark Lethe by Leonie Winson
The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot by Stephanie Strickland and Janet Holmes