Monday, May 26, 2014

more about the Active Fiction Project

So here we are. At last report, I had ventured out into the darkness the first night I heard about this project to go and check out the story nodes, returning with a handful of blurry cameraphone pics and some story fragments. Knowing that this work was not only constrained in space -- preventing most of you readers from ever experiencing it at all -- but also in time, I knew I had to strike while the iron was hot and deputized an old friend, storygame enthusiast Daniel Wood, to go forth on my behalf and document the heck out of this work. One weekend later, every passage had been photographed (only the first is one of my nighttime shots, the rest by M. Wood) and now, these photos are the only way of experiencing the work now that the public installation of the laminated cards has been rolled back. (On the plus side, consolidating the pictures here is also a streamlined way of experiencing the story without having to tromp all over Hell's half-acre and back through Riley Park, though it might be argued that doing so was kind of the point of such a geo-centric piece.)

It has all now been converted for your enjoyment. I'm waiting to hear back from its author, talented UBC creative writer Nicole Boyce, but have boldly gone forth to share the piece in confidence that putting it out in public was really what it was about all along. (Besides, putting one of these up in my hometown is somewhat of a bold provocation. How was I supposed to not document it?)

Here you can see a story passage, number 13, hiding on the right centre of a community bulletin board. The story is a brief 20-passage affair with two main forks allowing readers to switch streams -- I believe it may even be possible to juggle them off of each other indefinitely, for a perpetual loop story presumably unintended by the author. A node map analysis may follow, but really it's concise enough to wrap your head around its structure just reading through. I didn't see this during my nighttime photo expedition, but you may note some stickers on the backs of the story placards shining reversed text through -- they are inviting random pedestrians who don't understand what they have just encountered to go to node #1 and start the story from the beginning.

[June 8: It has all been photographically documented for my own personal enjoyment! But, regrettably, in order to preserve the author's ability to later sell rights of first publication to a literary journal, you will not be seeing the full text of the piece here until such time as rights to subsequent republication can be arranged.]

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

the Active Fiction Project part 1

When I saw this I thought, "gee whiz, what a great idea!"


Everything depends on this. There is a right and a wrong choice. It's not 6 of one and a half dozen of another. This is it. Choose using your animal instincts. Don't make an intellectual decision, it'll be wrong. Just go.
<- This way


That way ->

Then I got kind of resentful that I'd missed Miranda July's 2008 installation "The Hallway", and that it had not been documented in such a way that I could experience it vicariously after the fact. And, oh yes, I was unlikely to have been traveling to Japan in order to experience it in the first place, it's true. Forget you, Miranda! But it turns out that other groups (like these Chromatin folks) have been mounting similar ventures in nearby places and... d'oh! That was here in my hometown just over a month ago and somehow the word never got to me -- I, who by all rights should have been the first one notified! But while listening to an unrelated news broadcast on the radio, I was tipped off to The Active Fiction Project and their still-warm CYOA installation on my city's fair streets. Rushing to their website, I found the location of the starting node and embarked upon an adventure...

The Raffle
Nicole Boyce

You know no one in this city, but you think you made a barista laugh today and it felt like winning an Oscar. In the mornings, you practice friendship pick-up lines. "Seen any good movies lately?" "How about a glass of cranberry juice?" When the boredom starts to itch, you walk downstairs. You could hardly believe this place, when your new roommate showed you. It's a mansion from the outside: wide-hipped with a balcony. But someone carved five apartments into it, Polly Pocket style.

Your roommate works twelve to twelve. He vacuums the bathtub. The only thing you have in common with him is the salt shaker. If someone had told you this would be your Friday night, restless with no plans, would you still have moved from Brantford to Vancouver? You step out into the street, hoping a walk will help.

. . .

Launched a couple of weeks ago by the Vancouver Public Space Network (and framed confusingly as a "Jane's Walk"), this story is a pilot work of site-specific interactive narratives telling tales informed by the neighbourhoods in which they are situated. I rushed out to document all of the story sections while they were still up, so that the story could still be enjoyed by the gamebook fans who subscribe to this blog, but in deference to the author or committee of creative writing students who assembled this work of real-life hyperfiction, I will refrain from spoiling it further until the option of experiencing the tale in person is no longer possible. Hats off, Active Fiction Project! Everyone these days is talking digital gamebooks, but these folks have taken the absolute opposite tack: gamebook as augmented-reality-game. Now I just regret I hadn't made one first, and wonder how I can get in line as an author.