Individual Work: Custom Orthotics Changed My Life
In Custom Orthotics Changed My Life, Richard Holeton uses the professional presentation format, with bullet points, graphs, and colorful charts, to illustrate the story of one man’s fall and redemption thanks to orthopedic inserts. The 10-minute video slideshow (with dramatic instrumental soundtrack by David Kettler) charts the sad trajectory of the narrator’s life as his gnarled feet lead to the collapse of his family, the loss of his job as a “marketing manager,” and eventual slide into desolation. Though he seems focused on his feet, we learn that the narrator has lost a son during this period, that his wife "went lesbian," and his remaining son has withdrawn in the ensuing tumult. Thus, a second story is told, this one about a man who is either too depressed to face these cascading life events or who is simply too oblivious to see what is happening around him. In spite of this, a pair of custom insoles solves his foot problems (most of them), heals his broken relationships, and paves the way for a hopeful future. As with many of Holeton’s other works (See: Frequently Asked Questions About Hypertext, for example), the emerging norms of Professional Communication provide the narrative framework to explore human folly while providing readers with a keen sense of the atmosphere within which such events occur. Stylistically, the aesthetics of the piece will be familiar to readers who have had the pleasure of experiencing a Powerpoint presentation and/or infomercial, as Holeton uses trend lines, Venn diagrams, and visual quantifications to the establish the specious causal relationship between orthopedic problems and success in life. As with his other slideshow creations (Voyeur with Dog and Do You Have Balls?), Custom Orthotics evokes a history of literary practices that exploit the norms of official communication, from epistolary novels to found poems, from simple satire to journalistic hoaxes.