A note from the editors

More than any other genre, new media resembles the impermanence of life. We fall in and out of love; we get fired and sick and forget where the car keys are. No two days are ever the same. Many of the pieces we’ve encountered in this genre rely on active participation—clicking on an image or hypertext, deciding which direction to turn, how far to go, and then trying it all over again. In our experience, the most impressive pieces require one to abandon passivity and engage fully with the text. And while the new media umbrella is forever expanding, for this issue we decided to focus on pieces that share a spirit of adventure. Each decision you make here will set you off on a unique course, where you will gather artifacts or encounter a rich culture. Readers are not required for this issue of The New River. We need explorers.

Ana-Christina Acosta Gaspar de Alba’s “Lotería” employs scattered playing cards to explore Mexico. With each click of the keyboard, the complicated, vibrant history of Mexico and its people are shared through pictures, audio clips, and videos. This piece is especially critical today, when so many misconceptions and bigoted statements about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans are televised and repeated on presidential debate stages. Reading has always been an exercise in empathy, and immersing oneself in “Lotería” can serve as a response (or antidote) to some of the uglier moments in 2016. We also get the opportunity in this new media journey to follow Marcos, who embarks on a pilgrimage back to his homeland. Here, our expectations are upended, and crossing the border takes on new meaning.

Stuart Moulthrop’s “The End of the White Subway” is journey and game; you are invited to play, not read. The dream-like quality of this piece is grounded in items the player collects. Choice is everything. But just like in life, how do we decide what we should carry with us and what items we don’t need? While riding, we take note of our fellow passengers; station to station, the strangeness of this world and its people at once feel familiar and unexpected. Through hypertext, one decides how far to ride this train and what items to keep. In the end, the game itself makes final judgments on its players. Through this journey, I continually asked myself: what makes up a life, and what only serves to distract us?

We invite you to dive in, choose wisely, then choose again.

Mariana & Matt, Fall 2016