Individual Work

Oulipoems, by Millie Niss and Martha Deed, is an interesting hybrid of traditional forms and digital medium. Oulipoems consists of six interactive poetry works put together in Flash. It features a colorful main page with links to each of the individual works and the definition of oulipo. Furthermore, it plays a number of auditory snippets while on the page. The names of the pieces are as follows: Sundays in the Park, Morningside Vector Space, No War, Headline News, Poggle, and The Electronic Muse. Each of these constituent pieces is based upon traditional poetic constructs, but vary between poetry, poetry games, and tools for writing poetry. The work was inspired by the French literary movement, Oulipo, where poetry and mathematics were put together. One of the key characteristics of this movement was putting together works of literature underneath a certain set of rules, say for example all words might have to contain a specific vowel or be spelled phonetically. Each of the six subparts has their own set of constraints. Each piece is navigated via the mouse, and features interactable areas and bits of text. The exception to this being "No War."

“Sundays in the Park” features a passage of text with a number of text groupings that can be interacted with. With a click, each grouping can be changed to a different arrangement that affects the overall interpretation of the passage, foregrounding puns or phoentic changes.

“Morningside Vector Space” depicts a banal anecdote. The anecdote changes between different styles as the user moves the mouse about the page. Each style is further altered along two dimensions as controlled by the mouse. The concept of vector space was a strong source of inspiration for this mechanism.

“No War” is a sound based poem. Once it starts, it plays a number of words related to war in seemingly random order and quantity. Unlike the others, this passage does not feature any interactable parts.

“Headline News” is a more puzzle based poetic piece where texts are arranged on a grid and can be rearranged. In many ways, this can be viewed as a mathematical puzzle, as it offers a staggering number of possible outcomes.

“Poggle” is built in very much the same way as the game of the same name. Fragments of poetry are presented on tiles and can be rearranged. There is a time limit however, adding an element of pressure to make a good poem in time.

“The Electronic Muse” is the most variable of the selection of pieces. It generates lines of poetry using diction from one of six different poets. This is done through an algorithm based in linguistic theory. Furthermore, it can be interacted with to change the text.

These works provide for a great range of experiences, be it as simple as a literary game or as evocative as strong poetry. Furthermore, they combine traditional constructs and more modern components into a enriching package. Literature and mathematics are often viewed as being opposed to one another or operating in different spheres of thought. Oulipoems shows that they can be brought together into an entertaining and enlightening form in the digital age.