Individual Work
Carving in Possibilities

Carving in Possibilities by Deena Larsen is a work made in Flash recounting short phrases related to the story of David, displayed through carving the sculpture of David by Michelangelo. The experience starts with a blurred image of a statue's face in the background, and the viewer moves their mouse across the image, simulating the movements of Michelangelo sculpting his work. As the viewer hovers over certain parts of the screen, color-coded excerpts are displayed and disappear as soon as the mouse leaves the trigger area. With each revealed excerpt a sound is played to simulate the impact of the chisel on stone, and as the viewer slowly wears down the stone the image becomes less blurred until the sculpture is finished. The user is then given the choice of restarting and sculpting again.

Some of these excerpts involve David himself, such as "A hero... His stone ready... His arm confident...", others could be related to Goliath: "Eyes watchful... The neck of a bull... Hands of a killer...". Others still seem to describe the crowd watching the battle: "We waited as the wind blew in our faces. We did not know where to run.". Some are from Michelangelo's point of view: "I could feel him... Under me watching... As I chipped away..." and others could be from that of the crowd viewing the sculpture: "What is it that we set in stone?"

Carving in Possibilities is neither novel nor poem, but rather a sort of narrative told through a collection of phrases and excerpts that can be read in any order. These vary from themes of awe and wonder to fear, or even philosophical reflections about existence and reality.

The theme of a statue which has lifelike qualities attributed to it is reminiscent of Galatea by Emily Short, where the reader interacts with the animated statue from the myth of the sculptor Pygmalion. Some of the excerpts, especially questions addressed to David's statue, suggest that the statue may not be so different from Galatea and possess some kind of sentience. While Galatea uses text input to interact with the title character, the mouse-chisel analogy in Carving in Possibilities presents a different kind of interaction. This mouse movement is similar to the Caresser part of Toucher by Serge Bourchardon, where the user moves their mouse across the screen to simulate caressing the screen and the figure hidden in it.

A deeper meaning may be present in some of the fragments that discuss reality, life and existence: "What lives in your stone?", "Did you ever wonder where the other Davids spent their eternities?", "Who breathed life into whom?" By questioning how the statue might relate to its existence or that of other statues, the author can also question how humans relate to each other. Do they think of all the other lives being played out at the same moment? Do they reflect about those who came before them, or those that are yet to come? What defines a human?

Author statement: 
Carving in Possibilities is a short Flash piece. By moving the mouse, the user carves the face of Michelangelo's David out of speculations about David, the crowd watching David and Goliath, the sculptor, and the crowds viewing the sculpture.