I explore media in transition. My research encompasses film, video, print, digital arts, and the web. I'm interested in what artists and writers are doing and in what critics and scholars are saying.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sampling The Memory Channel: A Multimedia Retrospective

I’ve posted on my Web site, The Memory Channel, a sampling of my work across a range of disciplines, genres, and media. From both creative and scholarly perspectives, these projects address issues related to self-representation, autobiography, and memory. When considered in relation to one another, they introduce at least a few incipient theories, although I’m still trying to figure out what those theories are. At any rate, I’m convinced that my experiments with fiction writing play key roles, a conclusion that my reading of Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana reinforced. Eco’s novel distinguishes between personal and cultural memory in ways that helped me understand concerns I had been exploring intuitively in my own work. (I’ve discussed Eco’s text in an earlier post.)

The following synopses of my fiction highlight contrasting, yet related, approaches to the study of memory. The thematically entwined texts feature many of the same characters:

Arella’s Repertoire, novel (about 65,000 words; 2006)

The novel begins as Arella prepares for 2000 and the fresh start it represents. More at home in cyberspace than anywhere she has actually lived, she reinvents herself and her life story for readers of a multimedia Web diary she calls Arella’s Repertoire, a blend of the memoir, travelogue, and blog. Characters who star in this virtual drama recapture worlds Arella has known and weave together the memories, dreams, and imaginings that have contributed to her development as a woman and a writer in postmodern America. Framed as an online text that she posts incrementally throughout the month of December 1999, the narrative explores personal and cultural memory. Although archival documents contribute to the autobiographical process that Arella chronicles, she does not base her storytelling on these resources alone; instead, she sets the stage for a lively cast to depict in new ways her visions of the past, present, and future.

Vagabond Scribe (Leah’s Backstory), work of fiction (about 27,000 words, includes graphics; 2006)

The young Leah as a woman archives traces of her life. She begins the first stage of her retrospective in the mid-1980s, at the opening of Vagabond Scribe. The paper trails that she follows lead to real and imagined places she has visited as a child, a teenager, and a young woman. Her diaries and journals help, and so do her old letters, as well as her collection of books and memorabilia. Aware of blind spots and exclusions, she works through the texts, bringing them together in new ways. Limiting herself to these and other archival documents, she rearranges the pieces and looks for clues to unwritten histories and forgotten stories; she creates a collage of textual fragments, traces of where she has been. Readers glimpse a look behind the scenes at a memory bank in the making, a resource for ideas and inspiration as well as for stories to come. (Vagabond Scribe can be read as a prequel to Arella’s Repertoire, since Leah, an alter ego that Arella creates, appears as a character in both texts.)

My previous post, “Video-Graphic Alchemy,” provides additional background. The version on The Memory Channel includes the graphics referenced in that essay. To view all the work posted on The Memory Channel, including excerpts of the fiction and the supplemental computer graphics, click here.

Although this work has not been published yet, the unpublished manuscripts can be read in the Iowa Women's Archives at the University of Iowa. A copy of Arella's Repertoire, my novel, is also accessible in the Florida Authors section of the Miami-Dade Public Library.

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