Lexia to Perplexia

Posted by in Media Work, on October 10, 2015


lexiaThumbLexia to Perplexia was developed 1998-1999 and debuted on the web in early 2000. The work is a deconstructive/grammatological examination of the Internet apparatus as “delivery machine,” exploring the processes and phenomena of attachment and networked being; and, as Katherine Hayles has stated, (provide) “a set of interrelated speculations about the future (and past) of human-intelligent machine interactions, along with extensive re-inscriptions of human subjectivity and the human body” (Writing Machines 49). The text of the work falls somewhere between theory and fiction, between the rigorous and the frivolous. Within the work, neologisms such as “metastrophe” and “intertimacy” work as sparks that are meant to inspire further thought and exploration. The work also makes reference to classical literature including and Greek and Egyptian mythology, as well as postmodern theory.

lexiaimage010The Lexia to Perplexia interface is designed as a diagrammatic metaphor, emphasizing the local (user) and remote (server) poles of network attachment while exploring the “intertimate” hidden spaces of the process. At times its interactive features override the source text, leading to a fragmentary reading experience. In essence, the text does what it says: in that, certain theoretical attributes are not displayed as text but are incorporated into the functionality of the work and hidden within the source code.

The work makes wide use of DHTML and JavaScript, which at the time of production was experimental, with browser dependent conditions and protocols. Though the work is still discussed today, its functionality has been affected by standardization and will not display correctly in most current browsers. That said, the work predicted its own obsolescence, with its slow decay seen as part of its performance. This aspect of the work has been most recently observed by Zach Whalen, who states, “Lexia to Perplexia’s gradual obsolescence, prolonged only by backward-compatibility, is just the final part of its fictive performance.”

In 2000 the work was awarded the trAce/Alt-X New Media Writing Award, and received an honorable mention from the 2000 Electronic Literature Organization Awards.

ONLINE AT: http://goo.gl/sC4haA
ELMCIP record: http://elmcip.net/creative-work/lexia-perplexia

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