Conversation with Diana Slattery about The Glide Project
by Dene Grigar
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Video 1:"The Journey"
Dene: Where are you going
Dene: What does that have
to do with Glide?
Diana: I won't know till I get
there, except that, as I was saying to Roy [Ascott], every place
we are or every place we end up is always exactly where we're
supposed to be—and yet, there are choices to be made at
every step along the way.
Video 2: "LiveGlide"
Dene: We know that "Glide"
is the visual language that appears in your novel, The Maze Game, and is reflected in
The Glide Project. But what exactly is "LiveGlide?"
How does it differ from Glide itself?
Diana: It's just an extension
of the Glide forms that you can draw as regular writing, and
you can draw them on a two-dimensional surface. And it's just
taking those forms, and those forms as they add the time dimension,
and moving more into each other, also on a two-dimensional surface.
But then taking those morphing signs and moving them through
a three-dimensional space . . . leaving
the trace of that so that the sign [produced] actually creates
objects and leaves forms as its inscription. But then, you can
go back with the LiveGlide writing tool and retraverse those
forms in a number of different ways using the tool—adding
and changing the qualities, visual qualities like, "how
transparent they are," "how color can ripple through
them." Then, reading becomes navigation. You navigate these
forms. You can place your viewpoint inside the form and navigate
that way. You can place it in a first person viewpoint, or you
can place yourself outside the form in a third person viewpoint.
So you are changing the . . . what do you call it? First person,
Dene: Point of view, POV
Diana: Point of view
Diana: The POV, yeah, in animation
but in grammar you call it . . .
Dene: Point of view
Diana: Yeah, point of view
Video 3: "Grammar, Part 1"
Dene: Diana, how does LiveGlide,
that is a visual language, reimagine grammar?
Diana: That makes a whole different
way of handling grammar, and grammar becomes a "visual grammar,"
depending on where you situate yourself relative to the inscription.
And then . . . you can read a form, which is a kind of a record
of a journey. It's like an event. It was an event, in
its writing. It moved through time. From the dimension of reading,
the event has created a form. And so, in the dimension of reading
you can read it in so many ways, as you can, of course, any piece,
any text, any piece of natural language, and you can interpret
it. So, reading, in this case, becomes navigating. So, you are
actually navigating through space, and you can also leave a secondary
reading. You can leave the record of how you navigated the space
by saving the settings of how you went through that space, and
it also can be saved. And somebody else can go through and reread
the same way you did and /or add their own interpretation.
Video 4: "Grammar, Part 2"
Dene: Speaking from an interest
in translation and interpretation, I wonder how one goes about
interpreting forms in LiveGlide?
Diana: Interpretation is all done visually.
So, you can start with very simple morphs, like one Glide sign morphing into another—just
one transformation of meaning from one concept and traversing
that journey, drawing that journey, and expressing something
with the shape it creates, as well as the transformation. And
then interpreting it, but the interpretation isn't going to be
translation back into natural language. It's going to be different
interpretations of movements in three-dimensions, I guess you
Video 5: "The Process"
Dene: Is LiveGlide some larger
experiment you are thinking of? Is this another piece of it?
It seems to spiral out of Glide, which in itself was an experiment
and now you are working on LiveGlide, which takes Glide to a
different dimension, a different way of reading, thinking. Do
you see another step past LiveGlide? If so, what would that be?
Diana: The transition into LiveGlide
and the making of that instrument and learning how to read and
write in LiveGlide has a parallel world in the narrative of the
second novel. That novel is about that process, only in a fictional
world, and what that process ends up meaning in "moving."
But, in The Maze Game, the first novel, the language,
the focus of the language, is a structure for a game, a particular
kind of game, a very earth-like, human-like game. [The game in
the novel] is always a dialectic. It's a player vs. a dancer. It's a competition. It's a
win-lose game, and it's about who's better at navigating the
maze and combat, etc. So, it mirrors the majority of human games.
And that language [the Glide language] is language structures,
game structure. But it's already hinting at other things because
the maze [they play the game on] can transform. And it has different
forms and shapes, even as a three-dimensional maze. The maze
in the game is three-dimensional, but it is not three-dimensional
in the sense of LiveGlide. It's three-dimensional as extruded
and deformed two-dimensional shapes. So, it sort of achieves
a semi three-dimensional but not a real moving, not moving through
space creating forms, but by moving through space creating forms
is the underlying shift of consciousness necessary to bring about
being able to conceive of a new kind of game that is structured
very differently. That is what the third novel is about. So you
have a shift of thinking, a shift of cognition and a shift of
Video 6: The Maze Game
Dene: You seem to be anchoring
all of your visual language work in written language of a novel
. . .
Diana: No, it is completely back
and forth. It's an iterative process.
Dene: But I guess what I am
trying to say is that you always have a novel at the same time
you are introducing a new experiment in The Glide Project.
Diana: Well, that's just part
of the overall strategy of communicating.
Dene: Why is that?
Diana: Well, it's a strategy.
It's a multiple discourse strategy for communicating an idea
or set of ideas about language and consciousness in numerous,
different ways. But it's not just a strategy of communication
like skillful means . . . or something. When I have something
I'm trying to say, I'm going to speak it this way for this audience,
or this way for that audience.
Dene: So, content?
Diana: Yeah, it's communication
theory. It's not just for that reason, but it's built into the
nature of ideas is to not only express them in different formats,
like visual, animation, interactive, narrative, language theory,
language and consciousness ideals—you know all that. But
it's to expose the relationship between those different ways
of knowing—it's epistemological—and that by moving
back and forth and showing relationships, the transformation,
the notion from this discourse from this episteme to this one.
You can see how something evolves from multiple viewpoints and
multiple cognitive systems.
Video 7: "Medium"
Dene: So, you're agreeing
with Kate Hayles' views that the way we
treat a medium is specific to it. In other words, what you do
in your print text, although has some bearing upon what you are
talking bout in your electronic texts, you're writing to the
electronic text with a specificity of that medium in mind with
all of its limitations and all of its possibilities?
Diana: Well, I think that there
is something that underlies even the medium, and that's that
there's a relationship always between a particular form of discourse
and the media or medium in which it's expressed. And by changing
the meaning, you change something about the discourse although
you can express a single discourse in multiple ways. And that's
what's happening in the whole electronic literature area and
why literature people are hanging on so hard to the medium, the
form, and the book and the printed page, and just not wanting
to let go of the text, of the story or anything that break out
of this medium. And there's a lot of tension in that evolution.
Video 8: "Epistemology"
Dene: You see then an epistemological
shift in the move to visual language?
Diana: There are things you can
do, certainly, I think the most obvious one to me is the form
of knowing, "the epistemology of interaction," like
what you learn by getting into an interactive playspace or a
game or an interactive world—something that you can actually
have agency in it, change, and some kind of dialogue with it,
in it, evoke knowing from it, make changes in it, create things
in it. Knowing by doing is . . . simply an . . . [recursive]
process and that kind of knowing is really different.
And I don't know how anybody could know or understand Glide just
by getting a verbal account of it, that it doesn't really happen.
It's sort of like you can understand tennis up to a certain point,
just stating it as an example, but to actually get in there and
play tennis gives you a different kind of knowing of tennis and
not even necessarily having developed skill. You can just have
a sense of what you are doing. Descriptions of, verbal descriptions
of dance or something. It isn't just interacting or moving the
body necessarily—it's moving the mind in a particular way.
The mind moves differently than a visual interaction or a drawing
of any kind of activity like that. It does better than parsing
Video 9: "Consciousness"
Dene: Do you think in working
with something like LiveGlide or visual texts like LiveGlide
that you are going to be changing consciousness of the user,
the interactor of that site? Is it something you are presaging
for future kind of communicative devices and way of thinking
and way of knowing? Are you trying to say something about consciousness
Diana: No, I think it's like
. . .
Diana: . . . leaving a little.
I want to make a version of it which we have been calling "LiveGlide
Lite" that is an interactive version, but it's a much more
simplified version that can be downloaded. It's visually very
seductive, and that's part of its nature—that's just its
beingness. It's also its part of its own intentionality and strategy.
I talk about it to myself, and now I am telling it to you, as
if LiveGlive has a form of consciousness itself. In other words,
it is in some sense a living language and, therefore, I personify
it, and I can communicate with it, not just that I can communicate
with the language itself and both listen to what it has to say
as well as make my own statements using its forms—that's
kind of interesting enough. But that language, that language
both changes our consciousness and part of that change
in consciousness is to add more consciousness to language and
to treat language as a sentient entity, a sentient entity in
and of itself. So, now that I gone that far . . . . What I want
to make is a LiveGlide Lite. It comes out of my being very annoyed
with people who would look at LiveGlide or any of the Glide stuff
and say, "Gee, that's a nice screensaver."
Video 10: "Applications"
Dene: <laughs> So, what
innovation have you made to screensavers now?
Diana: So, I thought: Oh, why
not make a version, make a screensaver, like there already are—there
are screensavers that you can set up where you have to, kind
of, have to go into the little program and you can change it
and tweak it and then it comes up that way?" But I want
to make one that's very seductive and very beautiful—which
the LiveGlide forms are—and put just a few little controls
there also, so they appear. It's a little app. You have just
a few controls so you can tweak it the way you can the LiveGlide
in a very, very complex way in the fuller application. So, people
can interact just a minimal kind of way with their screensaver
when it's on screen. So, therefore, they start experimenting
a bit with the forms and interacting with the forms, and then,
whatever happens, happens. It's either appealing or it's not.
People either want to explore it, or they don't. It's kind of
like leaving a little colored bauble on the beach, you know,
like a message in a bottle, and leave them all over the place
and enter on whatever it is—I was talking to Mike Phillips
[U of Plymouth] about this—you know that phrase, "eye
candy?" You know what I mean by saying, eye candy? It's
pretty; therefore, it's "eye candy." But I started
thinking but what is eye candy?
Dene: It is the bastardization
Video 11: "Beauty"
Dene: So, a LiveGlide Lite
that is eye candy?
Diana: What is "eye candy?"
It's called eye candy because people are drawn to it. They want
to pop it in their eyes, like people pop chocolate in their mouth,
or chips. Okay, great strategy, great rhetorical device for getting
this meme out. Great, make it eye candy. Take that channel, and
use it. Make a piece of screensaver, a little mini app, with
a high rating on the eye candy scale. I'm not considering it
now as something to resist but to accept.
Video 12: "Interactivity"
Dene: So a screensaver that
interacts with the user?
Diana: The thing is that in its
interactive form, you can save your forms, and, then, the next
step is to make this a multi-user system where people can download
the app, play with it, upload the forms for others to, then,
take—their forms, their settings—and to play with
galleries of stuff so that others can participate in the creation
of the forms. It's interesting . . .
Video 13: "Journey 2"
Dene: Diana, where are you going?
Diana: Straight up.