Individual Work
Saving the Alphabet

Alan Bigelow’s “Saving the Alphabet” is a piece that, as Bigelow explains, “addresses governmental and corporate threats to the free use of language . . . as language is simultaneously constructed and deconstructed.” Bigelow includes animation that visually emphasizes this piece, including the beginning sequence, an explosion of letters of the alphabet over a black computer screen. Twenty-six pages, one for each letter of the alphabet, are accessible from a list of lettered buttons. Users click on a letter, in no particular order, to navigate through the Flash interface, which uses text, images, and audio. Bigelow provides an eerie audio track which sets the tone for the story, with endless echoing music. By clicking through the text, the user becomes a participant in the deteriorating story. The decay of letters is gradual and erases components of the story after they materialize. As letters are selected they fade to grey, and finally disappear completely. The letter chosen is displayed in the center of the screen with a statement: “Without C, the Corporations had no first letter for themselves, and no identity. Now they know who they are.” When all that is left is Z, “Who will save the alphabet?” The letters in the story evaporate, reinforcing how language is being wiped out. “Saving the Alphabet” is about the fundamental concepts of civilization which are being eroded by capitalism, in the form of corporations, weak media, and incompetent government.