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Carly Butler - SIGGRAPH 2001 CATALOGUE

"The origin is not a point. It cannot be defined, explicated, represented. The origin has no fixed coordinates. It is a continuum, a non-delimited space."

Taken from a commentary by The Author, a silent character in "Of Shifting Shadows," these words encapsulate the approach of this interactive hypermedia narrative in its attempt to represent the unrepresentable. Using video, animation, spoken word, text, and archival material (in English and Farsi), this CD-ROM presents the tales, past and present, poetic and abrasive, of three fictional women who lived through the 1979 Iranian Revolution and its aftermaths.

Portraying the shifting character of exilic existence, "Of Shifting Shadows" is driven by its content. It uses hypermedia technologies and artistic practices to intensify expression without overwhelming the senses, to play with form, to amplify dialogue, and to transform experience without the pretense of virtuality. The open-ended narrative unfolds in 48 segments, each layered with smaller narratives that are inhabited by bodies and voices, animated by metaphor and metonymy, and connected through movements that reenact a ritual of remembrance, personalized by each viewer's individual engagement. Although a narration of the Iranian experience, the work enters a universal stage as it embraces broader themes of displacement and alienation that permeate our collective histories of social trauma.

"Of Shifting Shadows" variously takes shape as a political history, a life story, and a poetic reflection through its use of the medium's affinity for the non-linear movements of memory. When the viewer's subjectivity suffuses and connects with the narrative's fragmented spaces in the process of "reading," the work engages the viewer as both witness and accomplice.

Visually lyrical, the interface deliberately uses a conventional interaction methodology that, aptly and perhaps ironically, seems transparent because it allows the technology to disappear to let content speak for itself, though not by itself. As voices and histories are thus recovered, the work imparts a certain anxiety that characterizes responsibility, expecting the viewer to think and learn, not immerse and indulge.

Mike Legget, Leonardo Online Digital Reviews

Carly Butler, Eastern Arts Report

Pixel Creation - text in French

Negar Mottahede, Radical History Review
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