Anne F. Wysocki is an associate professor of English at Milwaukee University, and has experience teaching literary and design elements. Her work, which is chiefly hypertextual, incorporates visual design and requires the reader to interact with the text.
“The Visit” begins with a white screen that has a scope-like viewing hole that reveals a second layer of imagery submerged behind the white screen. When the user clicks on the crosshairs of the viewing hole, a sentence appears. Each sentence is a statement of something that the couple did or did not accomplish on their trip to New York: for example, “They stayed in a midtown hotel” or “They did not send any postcards.” The blunt, declarative statements produce a reductive description of the “visit.” When readers move the crosshairs around the white screen, various colors and abstract orbs are revealed behind the outer surface. Only a tiny image is exposed, emphasizing the limited scope of the account. These limitations are accentuated by the tourist sites that the couple does and does not visit: “They did not go to the WTC site” and “They walked by the Guggenheim.” Typical, stock New York City attractions, the sites reflect the relatively prescriptive and narrow scope of the couple’s experience of the city. The characters are nameless, further stressing the limitations of human communication.
Although the narrative in “The Visit” is initially obscure, a more comprehensive picture gradually emerges. The second layer of data becomes a kind of back-story. The double layers of information represent the complexity of human interaction; we never truly know what is going on “beneath” the superficial account offered by the statements.
Whitney Lammi was a student of Dr. Kiki Benzon for a course in Contemporary Fiction taught at the University of Lethbridge, Canada during the Winter term of 2011.