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Database | Narrative | Archive

Seven interactive essays on digital nonlinear storytelling
edited by Matt Soar & Monika Gagnon

Inquiry | Argument, page 2 of 2

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Navigating Inquiry

In Public Secrets and Blood Sugar interface and information design constitute a form of “argument,” and a user’s navigation becomes a path of “inquiry” intended as a distillation and translation of the encounter through which the speech of the participants emerged. This is best represented in the interpretive responses of users of each interface. For example, when Public Secrets appeared in Issue 4 of the Vectors Journal Editor Tara McPherson’s introductory text described her experience navigating its interface:
Public Secrets reconfigures the physical, psychological, and ideological spaces of the prison, allowing us to learn about life inside the prison along several thematic pathways and from multiple points of view. Through a thoughtful and respectful framing and layering of the voices of individual women, we get a view from inside but also a view in context... The design of the project -- its algorithmic structure -- calls one’s attention to the shifting borders between inside and outside, incarceration and freedom, oppression and resistance, despair and hope. Through navigation of the piece, the fine lines demarcating these binaries morph, shift, and reconfigure. Rather, inside and outside mutually determine and construct one another illuminating relations between individual experiences and broader social systems.
Blood Sugar will be published in Vectors’ upcoming issue on “Memory”. Steve Anderson provides the following reflection on navigating the interface in his editor's introduction.
[Erik] Loyer's design of the project also expands upon the algorithm-driven structure of Public Secrets, adding a dynamic visual metaphor that invites users to "zoom in" to follow conceptual threads or individual stories. Daniel's work, which frequently engages concepts of borders and limits, is interested in this case in the boundary - namely the skin - that separates the inside of our bodies from the outside. Users are invited to engage the project from the point of view of a surrogate for the needle that literally penetrates the surface of the skin, allowing them to delve more deeply and intimately into a given person's testimony. This subject position suggests a subtle parity between the "user" of the interface and the IV drug "user" who is, for many of us, ordinarily held at a distance if not ignored entirely.

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