A note from the editors
The New River has been around for over 20 years, and in that time the digital world, and our readers’ familiarity with that world, has changed drastically. In this year’s Spring issue we take a moment to appreciate what still works from back in the early days of new media and the possibilities offered to us by its future.
We have been lucky enough to receive submissions from several past contributors this reading period, and have a pretty packed issue.
Bill Bly's fantastical hypertext rendering of the lost work of a hounded scholar, "We Descend, Volume II" harks interesting back to the bad-old-days of the early 90s, when most multimedia writing was simple click-through stuff, while also conjuring a long-past world of missionaries and masters, fairy tale and adventure. It is hard not to look on this as something of a tongue-in-cheek nod to what has changed over the last two decades, and how novel hypertext once again feels. It has, to us, the air of a choose your own adventure book, and is a great medium for recreating a potentially unreliable or endlessly interpretable historical document that the reader will want to explore every inch of.
Our second contributor this issue, Andy Campbell, is the creator of two pieces that seem, on first inspection, about as far from Bly’s hypertext storytelling as it is possible to get. "The Dreamcatcher" is an interactive piece of digital art which explores the dreams and aspirations of people living in Peterborough, in the UK, through lush landscapes and snippets of text. It really does seem to capture the liminal feeling of dream-space, and is an example of current possibilities for community art. Campbell’s second offering, "Wallpaper," also developed for public exhibition in the UK, with fellow writer Judi Alston and a soundtrack by Barry Snaith, funded in part by an Arts Council grant, is now fully compatible for VR technology (working with Oculus Rift and Vive) and has been exhibited as such. "Wallpaper" is an interactive story in which the player explores a remote British cottage and its surrounding environment, hoping to unlock its long-kept mysteries. A lot of the story is told through historical video, text and audio, including various weathered and fragmented documents found within the mysterious room. At this time, "Wallpaper" is only available for PC download, but should a Mac download become available, we plan to update the issue.
Alan Bigelow's "The Shootout" is a wonderfully fun and interactive western tale with poetic language, immersive sound, and a surprisingly modern ending that you won't see coming. It seems, no matter where technology goes, we cannot help but love stories and puzzles. We just find new packages for them.
This is a lesson we have been very pleased to learn during our time as editors for The New River. We are excited to see where storytelling goes in the future, and we will be careful not to forget where it has been!
Enjoy the issue.