A note from the editors
When you consider that writing as a form hasn’t really changed all that much since The Epic of Gilgamesh, some 4,000 years ago, what’s occurring in the world of new media becomes that much more impressive. Digital writing is already able to do things that authors aspired towards for years; incorporating visuals, music, and sound, as well as interacting directly with audience. In this issue we’ve tried to put forth work that exemplifies the wide range new media is capable of.
First up, in Jason Nelson’s “Acesulfame K,” we get to experience both the control and randomness that life has to offer. You get the chance to control a skeleton falling, smashing into objects, and creating your own anti-capitalistic poetry. It has a distinct video game feel and we found ourselves getting lost for long stretches of time. Perfect for ignoring those real-world things that bring you anxiety. Who knew poetry could be so much fun?
Next, we have Dashiel Carrera’s engaging and unsettling “The Deer.” The piece plays with sound in a way that slowly builds tension and makes you begin to question your own place in the world. It’s like mumblecore meets ASMR. One thing that stood out for us, aside from the visual/sound components, is the sharp prose work. Some works of new media can tend to eschew writing in favor of pop or flash, but in Carrera’s work it’s clear that he is, first and foremost, a writer.
The prolific Alan Bigelow is back at it in “The Fall.” This time we follow John Smith, three-time winner of the Most Boring Person in the World award, who is about to take a radical step into the next phase of his life. It felt so familiar and immediate, it was if we were stepping out of our own boring lives and into something new and exciting.
Finally, Serge Bouchardon’s “StoryFace” brings us a staggering piece of interactive work. A pseudo-dating app that uses facial recognition, “StoryFace” responds to the viewer’s own emotions. To begin, you log onto the dating website and are asked to display, in front of your webcam, the emotion that best characterize you. After this the website presents the profiles of potential partners. You get to choose and exchange messages with a fictional partner while your facial emotions are tracked. It’s a great reminder that sometimes in order to find love, you have to anticipate the other person’s needs and sacrifice your own feelings. This is a piece that gripped the two of us, along with several other patrons of the bar we were in, for a significant amount of time.
We really hope this issue engages you as a reader and gives you a sense of agency in not just your reading life, but your actual life. new river isn’t just for breakfast anymore! Enjoy!