overboard is an algorithmically animated work that combines borrowed text with graphic elements and sounds. The text is an adaptation of William Bradford’s account from Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647 of an incident during the Mayflower crossing. It is a story of a man who falls overboard during a storm but catches hold of a rope and re-surfaces. The author’s adapted text is put through a process of algorithmically steered, time-based changes in which letters appear, disappear, and re-appear. These textual changes show how minute letter substitutions destabilize meaning, while simultaneously evoking other temporary and fluctuating meanings. The sounds are generated in a similar way as the words and help to create an ambient atmosphere. In overboard, the text visually reenacts the story while undermining the words’ lexical relationship until the original letters are restored and the story surfaces again. The ever-changing, ambient text functions as a visual rendering of its own linguistic message: its illegibility is readable as a symbol for the sinking man.
The author explains his interest in algorithmically generated processes of textual changes as an intention “to interrogate certain relationships between the granular or atomic structures of alphabetically transcribed language and the critically or interpretatively discoverable rhetorical and aesthetic effects of literature” (http://www.dichtung-digital.org/2004/2-Cayley.htm).
(Parts of this text were modified from "Reading Digital Arts. In-Depth-Analysis and Historic Contextualization" by Roberto Simanowski.)