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Chapter One Hypertext and the Memex ( continued)

As previously identified, in hypertext today this interaction occurs technologically in a non-linear fashion, with each user moving from one site to another interrelating one, constantly deciding upon the pertinence of each text and either remaining on one text for a sustained amount of time or moving on through its subsequent links to an associative source. The non-linear narrative between linking articles becomes something not only personal to the individual accessing the information, but also specific temporally, for it can be predicted that when researching the same subject at another point in time, the reader will follow a different pathway through the same and additional information. As author Espen Aarseth argues,

“A non-linear text is an object of verbal communication that is not simply one fixed sequence of words, letters and sentences, but one in which the words or sequence of words may differ from reading to reading because of the shape, conventions, or mechanisms of the text”. (Aarseth, 1994, p.51)

The fact that differences in sequence do occur does not however imply that non-linear works are structure-less. Instead the structure encourages a system akin to open-ended work,
“neither linear sequences of events nor unidirectional chains of cause-effects, rather webs of relations, territories to explore. Systems are fields of possibilities that we offer as virtual playground to the dancers; they are the rules of a game, not a predetermined outcome…the systems solely work as a meta-language allowing a coherent communication between different individuals...” (Davide Terlingo, 2002, online)

In this way non-linear choreography stands somewhere between traditional linear choreography and what we term as improvisation, by providing the building blocks for a choreography, the ‘primitives’, however leaving the general nature of the work ‘open’ to the will of the dancer and furthermore the audience watching. Dance artist Davide Terlingo speaks metaphorically of non-linearity as a structuring system, saying,

“We could picture it as a flowing river. We might follow its course, we might reshape its shores, we might even redirect its flow by digging for it a new bed, but we will never be in complete control of its own dynamics: its currents, its speed, its tides.” (Terlingo, 2001, online)

In this statement he asserts that although the choreographer designs the building blocks of the choreography and determines the parameters and rules of causality, he/she relinquishes degrees of control, allowing the personal expression of the dancer and the contention of their ‘free will’ (Terlingo, 2001, online) and free body to shape the dance dynamically.


intro : what : works : writing