Category: Lightness

Lightness: Analogy

My analogy for lightness is 35mm projection.

I am a projectionist at the Reitz Union on Monday nights. And in fact, as I write this I have 35mm film zooming through a projector at 18 inches a second just 5 feet away from me. Projectors take hundreds of miles of film and turn them into a moving image with sound. The process of projection takes incredibly light, thin film and runs it at 24 frames a second. This speed creates a moving image. This thin, almost weightless film holds within its frames an entire story with a beginning, middle, and end.

This process is similar to that used in Tailspin by Christine Wilks. Wilks used just a few paragraphs of text throughout the E-literature piece. But, the little dialogue carried the entire story. She used limited animation to accompany the text. But, the story line and characters were created by the limited text. It carries history and emotion in the words.

Lightness: Emblem

My emblem for lightness is a falling leaf.

Growing up in Atlanta, my favorite season was fall. I loved the changing leaves. As the leaves would fall from the trees my sister and I would run and try to catch the leaves as they unpredictably fell to the ground.

The most obvious reason I chose the falling leaf is because it is light. But, also I am using this emblem because of the E-literature piece. It is called Tailspin. The story talks about a Grandfather’s scary story of when his place went into a tailspin during a war. The falling leaf falls as if it is in a tail spin, is light.

Finally is in motion as it falls. This emblem perfectly depicts time and motion, Calvino’s feelings on lightness, and finally my E-literature piece.

With a E-literature piece named Tailspin, you are going to need motion.

The use of a spinning spiral not only entices the reader to pass their mouse over it, but it also gives the feel that the reader is falling through a vortex. The story slowly reveals the a story from the Grandfather’s past. Through the story you do go back in time and the viewer can imagine that they are falling through the spinning vortex into the Grandfather’s story.

The story tells of when the Grandfather went into a tailspin during a war, as it simultaneously talks about the present day. Once you have placed your mouse over all of the spirals on the page, a blue spiral appears in the middle. When you click, on that new spirals appear and the old ones disappear. Different animated objects appear in relation to what the

text talks about. When text appears about hearing aids, a hearing aid will appear. When text appears about the war, a plan will fly across the page and the background will become a sky. All of these animations require motion and motion requires time. As you move your mouse over the swirls the text will dissolve onto the screen and then when you move it away the text dissolves away.

Time and motion is a great way to express lightness. Just as Wilks did in this piece, motion can make things look like they light and flying through the sky. Wilks used both birds and plans and had them fly across the sky, as the blue background with clouds dissolved onto screen. There was also a lightness to the swirls as they consistently spiraled in the same place, just floating on the screen.

Lightness: Calvino

Above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and language

For Calvino, Perseus clearly shows lightness. As the rest of the world turns to stone from Medusa’s stare, Perseus, alone, is able to cut off Medusa’s head. Perseus is depicted with such lightness. He burdens himself with carrying around Medusa’s heavy head, but respects it with lightness.

Calvino’s emblem for lightness is Cavalcanti jumping over the tombstone. Calvino likes this image because it is the “secret” of the one who knows to use lightness. When the rest of the world is weighed down by the many words and noises of the the surrounding world, that person can pull out lightness and surprise everyone. Just as Cavalcanti quips a smart retort and then nimbly jumps over the tombstone.

Calvino gives three characteristics that make something light:

(1) it is to the highest degree light; (2) it is in motion; (3) it is a vector of information.

Calvino gives science as an excellent example of lightness. Science continues to prove that the foundations of life are made up of smaller and smaller elements; i.e. neurons and DNA. Even in computers, one computer, can hold billions of pieces of information, and the bulky hardware that holds it all continues to get lighter and lighter.

In literature, less words can often have more meaning. Calvino names Shakespeare when mentioning an author who implemented lightness. My favorite author who wrote “lightly” is Emily Dickinson. She is also my mother’s. My mom owns a large collection of Emily Dickinson poetry and would read them to my sister and I often.

One of my favorites is “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”
Dickinson uses few words to create a lot of meaning in her poems.

An excellent use of lightness is used in Tailspin by Christine Wilks.

Wilks tells the story of a old man that lives with his daughter and grandchildren. He refuses to get hearing aids. This causes a lot of problems in the house as he is always angry that he can’t hear anything due to his grandchildren’s video games.

Wilks’ presentation has a wonderful lightness to it.

It begins with a simple, yet elegant title page. The words “tailspin” appear on screen. While the awful noise of forks scraping on plates plays. Wilks affectively uses one simple sound for every segment. Instead of inundating us with sounds like most games or television shows. She uses one sound. This creates a sense of lightness. We are not weighed down and distracted by the noises. But instead the one noise complements the animation and words on the page.

The title also conveys a sense of lightness. Tailspins conjures the ideas of a leaf floating down from the tree. It lightly floats in the air towards the ground.

The animation is a gray background with rotating spirals. The spirals definitely convey a feeling of lightness. As you scroll over the spiral words appear to tell the story and animation and sound begin too. Instead of creating an animated scene rooted in gravity, Wilks animated a gray background with floating spirals. Even the additional animated animals and planes that appear throughout it just float about the screen.

The use of text in this piece of E-Literature is light as well. As you pass over a spiral a small piece of text appears. You can choose the order the text appears. The  text is only a few sentences. It either talks about the present day or the story of the plane diving in a tailspin. The text is brief, but every block of text provides insight into the feelings of the Grandfather or his daughter. It also meets Calvino’s other criteria for lightness: it is in motion, literally and figuratively. The motion Calvino described was that it perpetuated the story and plot. But, through the use of digital media Wilks is able to make it literally move as well.