Individual Work
Project for Tachistoscope [Bottomless Pit] (William Poundstone)

The first thing I noticed about “Project for Tachistoscope [Bottomless Pit]” by William Poundstone was the similarity in structure and design to that of “Dakota” by YHC. The quick pace of the changing text on the screen, the box-like design of the piece, the incorporation of music, unfolding in themselves (presents themselves to the reader without any input), and a message being conveyed within the piece are all similarities between the two. As you begin to dive into this piece, you notice that it is a small box within your browser with a blue background in itself and an orange browser background, and on that box is a “start” button. Whenever you hover over that button, a few icons that appear within the writing become apparent with words associated with them such as subliminal advertising, falling into the void, and the subliminal con. If you decide to click on these extra links, summaries and histories about each aspect appear; these aspects being a vital part of the work itself, so understanding the context helps a lot with interpreting the piece. Once you hit that start, words appear on the box before you, changing rapidly, word-by-word with icons behind them. Music plays in the background as you try to read the words as quickly as possible, whether this music is relaxing or stressful could impact the reader’s response to the work. Whenever you want to stop reading, hover back over the box that contains this work, and a small “exit” button appears at the bottom right. If you decide to stop the piece, it takes you back to the start phase of it where those icons that give hints to the work’s interpretation appear.

The content of this works differs greatly with that of YHC’s “Dakota”. “Dakota” is a piece inspired by close-reading and reads more for enjoyment than teaching and tells a story. However, “Project for Tachistoscope [Bottomless Pit]” consists of subliminal messages that seem to be attacking something—whether that is icons, corporations, pop culture, or something else entirely. In this piece, it is left up to the reader to determine its subliminal messages by creating different reactions to different readers. What helps create these unique reactions is the music and icons that appear in the background of the text (icons behind the text being another difference between the two works). The icons are the main focus in this piece and what sets it apart from other readings like itself. Certain icons are displayed behind certain words thus creating an association between the words and the icon. Leaving the message up to the reader is the most interesting fact of this piece. The images it creates in each reader’s mind and what they think the author is trying to convey really gets them into the piece; it makes them want to understand it and spend more time viewing it in the process.

Media features within this piece are pretty simple. It incorporates music, colored backgrounds, icons, and flashing text. All of these features are core to understanding the piece though. The music is almost hypnotizing in its sound and the fact that words are being flashed at you with icons behind them makes it almost seem that the author is brainwashing the audience with whatever message he is trying to convey—whether he is trying to make readers agree with his vision of what these subliminal messages are about or if there is some deeper meaning behind it.That is probably not the case, though, but the icons do create an association with what words appear in front of them and the music creates a suspenseful kind of atmosphere. The background color of the piece is a light blue that fades in and out, adding more to the idea of hypnotism. What we see in “Dakota” is entirely different; there are no images and the music creates a feeling of intense passion that makes you want to get up and do something. The media could definitely be improved; the piece should take up the full screen and the “exit” button should be removed.

Pieces like “Project for Tachistoscope [Bottomless Pit]” are non-interactive because they are meant to be read in depth by the audience. Ones like these, specifically, have such fast-paced text that interaction would be nearly impossible. If this author really is trying to brainwash his audience, then making the piece non-interactive strengthens that; the reader has their full attention to detail and soaking in the messages. I think it’s more beneficial for it to be non-interactive and unfold within itself; and I enjoy reading that quickly with the music and icons, all the while trying to understand the meaning of the piece. It all works together to create a piece that is super interesting, keeps its reader involved within it, and leaves them questioning the messages being conveyed by the author.