radioELO: Sc4nda1 in New Media remix

Sc4nda1 in New Media affords a multiplicity of readings, each accompanied by classic arcade sounds. This remix by John Barber is made from the original sounds. Game on!
—Stuart Moulthrop

Sc4nda1 in New Media

Sc4nda1 in New Media

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Sc4nda1 in New Media (2012) by Stuart Moulthrop explores new forms of writing in digital contexts. Moulthrop calls the work an "arcade essay, a cross between philosophical investigation (well okay, rant) and primal video game."


Sc4nda1 in New Media is both experiment and response to criticism that new media (digital media, like hypertext) does not enjoy the same vetting, and therefore cultivation, as traditional literature. The response, thought Moulthrop, required invention of a new language. Hence the title "Sc4nda1," developed by bitwise transformation and the need for such a response to be in new media, less a matter of propositional definition, than an occasion for differentiating practice.

Patterned after the first video game, Pong, the participant controls one paddle to interact with the constantly moving pixel of light bouncing from one side of the screen to another. Behind this arcade action, animated and evanescent text scrolls down the screen, impossible to read. Participants can "win" access to six higher levels, where they can read a new installment of the transient text accompanied by brief sounds. These readings are filled with puns and word play, alongside more series ruminations on remediation. If one lingers on a reading, the words slowly dissolve into numbers. As a result, Sc4nda1 in New Media converges philosophical meditation with a retro video game. The sounds provide context(s) in this new space.


A fully interactive copy of Moulthrop's work, archived at the dichtung-digital website. Available here.


Works by Stuart Moulthrop are part of Pathfinders: Documenting the Experience of Early Digital Literature, an effort funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to preserve seminal works of early electronic literature by Stuart Moulthrop, John McDaid, Judy Malloy, and Shelley Jackson. Dene Grigar and Moulthrop are the principal investigators of the Pathfinders project. The Pathfinders project curates information about Moulthrop's Victory Garden.