note from the editor   

Spring 2007

The Spring 07 edition of  The New River ­­––collected, refined, and loved during a devastating time at Virginia Tech––is just one more way to prove that our university community has the ability to overcome, and to prevail with flying Hokie colors.  I thank our contributors for their patience over the past month as I worked to bring this journal together.  This issue would not exist without your vision and efforts. Most of all, I thank the Virginia Tech community for its strength and support over the years, especially this past month.  This issue is dedicated to all of the Hokie Nation.

As we unveil the largest issue of The New River to date, I look at our list of contributors and see familiar names to our publication, as well as new names. Hypertext has always been the principal interest of The New River.  However, with technology ever evolving, the realm of hypertext has expanded and changed beyond its original bounds. Sounds, images, text, motion, and link-navigation have all come together to create a new digital medium that is a hybrid of hypertext and digital art.  As the current editor of the journal, I decided to showcase a wide-ranging sample of what digital art is today.

Gita Hashemi’s piece, “Hyper-nomadic Textual Journeys” is a hypertext piece that winds and dances like a lyrical poem: it wanders through hyperspace as pure text.  Then there is Lewis LaCook’s, “King’s Woods,” a hypertext poem incorporating a rotation of various images that have been digitally manipulated into eye-candy. The user can interact with “King’s Woods” by submitting text in a box.  The user engages and contributes to this art.

In our featured piece, Stuart Moulthrop’s “Radio Salience,” the user interacts with image panels that randomly fade in and out of view.  When the reader clicks on the images at just the right moment, a computerized voice begins to read the text as it appears and scrolls across the image pane.  Moulthrop’s piece incorporates many different mediums into one piece of digital art, and is an evolutionary step in the growth of hypertext and digital media.

I have also included digitally manipulated images in this issue of The New River.  This marks the first occasion that The New River has featured digital stills. Peter Ciccariello is an acclaimed digital painter and poet.  His images go beyond the confines of paint and canvas into the realm of digital art. Peter incorporates text/letters into his paintings, creating hybridizations of image and symbol with intriguing titles, such as “G Dying Center Stage,” “The Distance of Language from Itself,” “Poem, Barely Alive in Landscape,” and “Prufrock-1915.”  Ciccariello's poetics show in these titles and the dynamic relationship between text and image in his artwork. The synthesis he achieves through merging text and image makes his work perfect for The New River.  The other digital stills are fractal art. Kelcie Edwards, a Virginia Tech alumnus, is a fractal painter. His fractals reach beyond the bounds of algorithms to create organic paintings that are rich with texture--they are at once cosmic and organic. Be sure to read his bio to learn more about his process for creating these ethereal images.

This issue also includes Alan Bigelow’s pieces, “Because You Asked” and “American Ghosts.”  Both are different from the other pieces featured here, but fit comfortably in the realm of digital art.  In “Because You Asked,” viewers interact with a painting window in which icons activate sounds and images.  After clicking and closing all icons, the viewer has the choice to obliterate the painting or leave it alone.  “American Ghosts” is an audio/video exploration of historical American icons.  This piece is similar to  Moulthrop’s piece in its visual design and method for delivering text to the audience. The artist's witty update of these old American icons is fascinating and innovative, both in concept and delivery. Finally, Jason Nelson’s piece “Promiscuous Design” is an image/text artwork, which acts like a GUI web page. By clicking icons/images/text, the user interacts with the artwork to an ambient soundtrack as the layers unveil one by one. In all, this adds up to a dynamic display of digital art and hypertext.

I would like to thank Ed Falco for his perseverance and guidance in the compilation of this issue. Also, many thanks to Brent Jesiek, without whom this project would not have a home; Darrell Wells, who's HTML tutelage was invaluable to me as we brought this issue from the depths of our server to your browser; and thanks to Bryon Sabol for his mentorship. We hope you enjoy your journey through the realm of digital art/media in this new issue of The New River. You can find us easier than ever on the web: just point your browser to our new domain name

Ben Kaja
Blacksburg, VA

18 May 2007