Eight was where it ended

by Jeremy Douglass

Screenshot from the middle of the animated sequence (Click for shot of end)

This proposal for the ELO 2012 juried Media Arts Gallery Exhibit is for a small, animated piece that runs on the desktop of a Mac OS X computer.

The piece is a short poem written using a nested series of file folders on a computer desktop. The process of composition is animated, with a total run time of two and a half minutes followed by a pause before repeating. A scripting agent running on the command line controls a Finder window view of the desktop as folders are created, renamed, reshuffled, and nested within one another, forming the poem. What is presented is not a video recording - it runs live on the desktop file system in the gallery. The viewer watches as the poem is written in folders, expands, is dated and sorted into its final form, and finally disappears to start again.

The work "Eight was where it ended" explores one story from the community of "Angel Baby" mothers - online communities dedicated to grieving for their unborn children in ways not afforded by society at large. It explores this identity position through the medium of digital file systems, in particular their embedded modes of representing temporality, the visible, and the hidden.

The piece is an electronic literature work that is small, simple, novel in form, and conceptually experimental. Versions of it have appeared in various digital interfaces, print editions, and live performances (see below). This edition was specifically designed for casual viewing by an electronic literature gallery audience.

This edition is written in a mixture of delimited text, shell script, and AppleScript.

Gallery script

Requires OS X 10.4+, must be launched from Terminal as per README.txt.

WARNING: Because it is sensitive to scripted mouse and keyboard interaction while running, this gallery script is not safe to run on a desktop computer while multitasking (editing other documents, surfing the web etc.). A full video recording of the piece running on a desktop environment can be provided on request.

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