Beginning with the provocative epigram by Phyllis Web, “The world is round. It moves in circles,” which gives way to a minimal interface with the word “meaning” placed in the center of a black screen, Jim Andrews’ “Enigma n” is a densely packaged experiment in the potency of language. With a click of the mouse, the reader can “Prod,” “Stir,” and “Tame” the word, causing the letters to swirl chaotically around no particular center. After all the options have been selected, the reader is permitted to restore order to the word by clicking “Spell.”
Conceptually, the temporal sequence (epigram, the assertion of “meaning,” the reader’s acts of disruption, culminating in a restoration of order) might be interpreted as a parable of communication, from sender to receiver. As an experience of reading, the attentive mind will seize upon the various anagrams that arrange themselves chaotically, making sense wherever it is suggested by juxtaposition.
However, Andrews’ piece does not simply end with the anti-climactic, almost jarring, return to order. The intrepid reader will quickly move to prod, stir, and tame the text again, and will be rewarded with a fifth option, “0/1,” which freezes the swirling letters in space. Another click on “0/1” opens up another option “Colour,” which invites further exploration leading to a reward at the end.
In its entirety, “Enigma n” is an extraordinary and deceptively simple work that offers rich rewards for those who take the time to play with it.