A work of hypertext fiction, its name was Penelope, features an artist and photographer narrator from the California art world, Anne Mitchell, who offers the reader a montage of her life in random screens of text with allusions to The Odyssey.
Judy Malloy began writing and programming its name was Penelope (in BASIC) in 1988, partially based on the interface she had created for her earlier work Uncle Roger.
It was first exhibited at the Richmond Art Center in the exhibition Revealing Conversations, Oct. 3 - Nov. 19, 1989. At that time Malloy had a packaged (disk and packaging) artists software version. In 1990, whe self-published the work with her own label, Narrabase Press and distributed it via Art Com (a San Francisco-based art space which also distributed artists video and artists software). (This version was reviewed by Nancy Princenthal in Print Collectors Newsletter in 1992 (newsletter 23, May-June, pp. 67-69).)
When Eastgate accepted the work, Mark Bernstein retooled its name was Penelope in an Eastgate version with a Storyspace look and feel, though it was still coded in a compiled language. (Note: The published date given on this entry refers to the year the work was first publicly exhibited. The Eastgate version was published in 1993.)
From the publisher’s description:
- "In this work of computer fiction, Judy Malloy has created something very akin to the melange of snapshots most of us have shut away somewhere in a cabinet or a back shelf. ... in this work, the reader finds the same sort of casual, almost meaningless -- and thereby potentially most meaningful -- images of people meandering in a park, of tightly knotted skate laces, plates of food, or toy sailboats on the beach. Indeed, the visual imagery is strikingly vivid, as clear and lucid as one might expect from a visual artist, which Malloy is. ... We are drawn through a range of emotions, lulled by nostalgia, then titillated and shocked, or saddened and outraged. This is truly Story as we have always known it, but with the added experimental dimensions of mnemonic time-distortion. ... With simple randomizing screens of open-ended text, Judy Malloy has used this technology to recreate the complex way we remember who we are." -- Carolyn Guyer
For additional information see the author’s own “Notes on the Creation of its name was Penelope” and the entry on “The Electronic Labyrinth”.
An archival collection of materials created by and relating to the work of Judy Malloy, including materials related to its name was Penelope, can be found at the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University: