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Chapter One Hypertext and the Memex ( continued)

Thus the mode of movement the reader/user takes through hypermedia is one which is constantly evolving, dependant upon the input of the interacting variables, these being the performer and his or her free will. Under this definition the work is cultivated and is continuously altered by each person who interacts with it. If an artist employs this mode of structuring a dance work, what are the artistic implications? In the next chapter I will investigate what opportunities hypertext as a structuring principle open up to an artist and the dual roles of the audience member in perceiving and shaping the art.

1 In 1945 Vannevar Bush was Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development for the United States government.
2 George Landow is a professor at Brown University and co-developer of Intermedia.
3 Intermedia employs object-oriented programming, linking to otherwise read-only documents. Multiple users can therefore read the same document while someone is editing it; users can simultaneously edit different parts of web.
4 In this document the person who interacts with any given text within a hypertextual system shall henceforth be classified as the reader, however it shall also be known that the reader in a hypertextual system has the power to modify, amend and affix text to the original article, thus also taking on traits which would normally be classified as writerly.

Chapter Two “His hands are free and he is not anchored” (Vannevar Bush)


Hypertextual principles do not obviously lend themselves to the creation of art. For some the idea of using hypertext as a structuring system for dance seems somewhat clinical. Surely art should develop through organic processes as opposed to being determined by a system? In this case the word system is misleading. As already stated, hypermedia mimics our innate structuring mechanism which processes information by means of association. Author Janet Lansdale suggests that, “Hypertext is the most natural way to organise human ideas because its semantic network-like structure matches the human brain.” (Lansdale, 2003, online)

So which artists actually use hypertext in this way and what new opportunities does this system lend them? Grideo, “an interactive tool for performers consisting of floor sensor pads triggering video and sound clips” invented by James Drage (2003), utilises a hypertext system as a mode of structuring this project. Drage notes that,

“Some people felt disorientated and unsure as to what was 'real', some found the video more compelling than the live action, others took the scene to be an 'experience' from which they could take their own version of the story amalgamated from the simultaneous options. It was also felt by the writer that this innovative blurring of multimedia, the imagination and the live medium could potentially capture the intention of the piece more effectively than the original naturalistic style.” (Drage in Lane 2003, online)

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