term project

well, here is where i am with relation to my term project. it's changed a lot so far, and it'll probably change even more before all is said and done.

i have settled on the myth of arachne. for those of you who don't know it, here's a quick summary:

this girl arachne is way, way good at weaving, so good that people come from all over to watch her weave. but she doesn't pay due respect to the appropriate god (in this case, athena, whose jurisdiction includes weaving, among many other things). so athena comes down cloaked as an old woman and tells arachne that she best give credit to the god. arachne says, "fuck that! i can weave even better than athena, and if she comes down here i'll prove it to her myself." then athena throws off her disguise and says, "you're on!" everyone grovels at athena's feet, except for arachne. then they go at it. athena weaves a tapestry that shows gods defeating mortals in contests and then getting transformed into various different creatures as punishment. arachne weaves a tapestry that shows (male) gods taking the forms of different animals to rape mortal women (it's unclear how exactly this is supposed to reflect on the gods). after they're done, athena gets pissed off because arachne's technique is flawless and then starts beating her over the head. arachne can't take it anymore and hangs herself. but athena isn't going to let her get away that easily. she changes her into a spider and decrees that all her descendents will also be spiders.

there's a lot here that relates the principle of transcoding that manovich talked about in on new media. it's from the "metamorphoses," so there's a distinct theme of gods and humans getting turned into other things. and i'm also translating ovid's latin into english, which is another kind of transcoding. there are also interesting connections between the technology of weaving and the technology of computers. think of jacquard's loom. and then there's this quotation from "the diamond age" that i like a lot:

"the way it's made - so digital - each thread going over and under other threads, and those going over and under all the other threads - " Harv stopped for a moment, his mind overloaded by the inhuman audacity of the thing, the promiscuous reference frames. "It had to be mites, Nell, nothing else could do it." (55)

So I definitely want to include that. The challenge, I think, will be finding a way to include everything that I want to in a way that makes it all fit together.

So here's how I'm planning to organize it. I wish that I could draw in this space, but you'll have to use your imaginations. Picture a piece of fabric, but so close up that you can see distinct spaces in between the threads. There are eight vertical threads and eight horizontal threads (eight because it's the number of legs a spider has). Then, in between each intersection, there's a dot of color that you can click on. I'll use different colors to designate different thigns, but I'm not sure what yet. Then, after you click on one of those dots, the page will have the main text in the center, and then eight clickable options spread out around it. on the left is "main" and on the right is "menu." both of these take you to the main menu. the other six are arrows pointing in different directions, away from the text. each arrow correspondes to a different dot on the original grid. so, for example, if you click on the arrow that points up, you will go to the page whose dot is directly above the dot you clicked on earlier. I hope that makes sense. I can draw it tomorrow to make it clearer.

I have the horizontal threads planned out pretty well. Each one will correspond to a chunk (an eighth) of the text of the myth. They will be arranged in order, that is, the beginning is the topmost thread and the end is the bottommost. As the dots progress from left to right, within each thread, the text gradually morphs into modern day english. there are a lot of steps in the translation process, and there are ways to translate that are much closer to the original. i will include all of these steps.

The vertical threads, I'm less sure about. What I think would be really cool is to have each thread be about a different theme that my project brings up, like the digital nature of weaving or the relationship between transcoding and translating. Then (here's where it gets complicated) as the dots progress from top to bottom, the text would gradually morph from an idea of a theme and how to include it into the computer code that I use to insert it into my project. This sounds amazing in theory, but it might not work so well in practice. Are there eight themes I can think of that would work for this?