Machines for Contortion

Here I go again transforming my analogue self, Kathryn Hummel, into a digital version (see one of my other incarnations here): a version with the tag SA Writers Centre Digital Writer in Residence. All media are machines for contortion; to have some kind of presence on digital media seems increasingly necessary for writers, even if our engagement with it is sometimes unconscious.

When I step back; log off; shut down, I am surprised by the shift in my focus from digital to analogue and the ease of my hybrid existence between both realms. I don’t find them mutually exclusive. As a writer, I connect this hybrid to my motivation to carry on arranging words and images into creative patterns—firstly, for the pleasure of satisfying my compulsion to do so, but also to contribute to the culture surrounding me, to the zeitgeist of a digital age, and to send out words into the void, hoping for a response from Some Other Unknown.

One of the great pleasures of engaging with digital media and its various platforms is coming across a diverse group of creative people who balance their individual quests for immortality, using the creative processes particular to them, with the collective aim of developing digital writing as a genre. This kind of pluralism is one I support: one sympathetic to the assembling a few thousand disparate, peculiar and beautiful fragments belonging to the present into the grooves of one record, for a united sling back and launch. If the result is the intangible one of sending data off across a physical/digital/unknown universe, it is also one that will fracture the tendency to look too far inwards when immortality becomes a solo pursuit once more.

I suspect that the SAWC Digital Writer in Residence program will provide me with a present space from which to explore all types of artistic work—to share and expand on my skills as a digital and new media writer—and to meet (virtually) other people who unwind it. Here’s how:

  • through Friends with Drinks, a new worldwide creative collaboration mapping responses to what and where we drink. Submissions are now open at the Friends with Drinks tumblr and Facebook page
  • by finding out more about you, your work and your engagement with digital media
  • by sharing and discussing ideas and innovations involving digital approaches in writing and hybrid forms
  • through finding out what people harnessing digital approaches in their work are hoping to achieve
  • tracking the themes that emerge

The karmic chain of support between creative strangers extends worldwide and as the SAWC Digital Writer in Residence for July-August 2016 I will gladly receive and pass it on.

Advertisements

Words from the Cloud

“Peace out,” as they say, “I’m outta here.”

It’s come to that bitter-sweet moment, at last. James is leaving the building. The past six-weeks have flown by at an almost ridiculous pace. You know what they say, “time flies when you’re having fun etc. etc.”

I’m incredibly grateful to the SA Writers Centre for giving me the opportunity to tell an interesting, experimental story that, we can only hope, that you’ve enjoyed! Thank you, as well, to all the loyal readers who kept up with the story of Luke Bracken, The Desert and The Cloud.

The esoteric tale has come to an end (at least for now), but that doesn’t mean you can’t rewind and take it all in again. Perhaps there’s small details you missed or maybe you’ll find the story takes on a new meaning, now that you know where the electric demons came from.

Part 1 – Cold Open

Part 2 – Like This

Part 3 – Ghosts

Part 4 – Clouds

Part 5 – Roads

Part 6 – Photographic Evidence

Part 7 – Tracks

Part 8 – Dust

Part 9 – Sunset

Operation Electric Forever has been a tough project at times, mainly due to wrangling together all the different elements (text, social media, mapping etc.) but also due to the emotionally intensive process of self-reflection and exploration. In the end, Operation Electric Forever is a story for and about you and me, an ode to the often confusing, confronting and challenging world that we live in. I hope that, somehow, I’ve managed to create something relatable and honest.

Of course, I’d love to hear people’s opinions on the tale itself, the use of digital elements and any other points that need making. I won’t be gone for good, after all. I’ll be hiding behind the process of writing the final residency report for a little while yet and then heading back into creating interesting blocks of electric scribbles for your enjoyment.

You can keep up with my work by following me on Twitter (@james_wrr) or my personal travel and creative blog Electric Holy Road.

Best of luck to the next Digital Writer in Residence! I’m incredibly excited to see where your words will take us.

So, I guess that’s all, folks! Happy reading! Happy writing! Happy exploring!

Yours digitally,

James Rudd ❤️


Operation Electric Forever, was created during the SA Writers Centre Digital Writer in Residence program during 2016.

SA Writers Colour Logo copy copy

 

Sunset – Operation Electric Forever – Part 9

[E̠̙̩̩X̙̹̹͇̤̥̳T̸̫͖̥̦͕̱?̫͓͔̗̳̜̳ ̣̬̺͡ͅI͖̣̗̦N͍͍͉T̶͙̖̜̺̬?̶͔̩̰ ̨̮͎̼̰-̛̫͇̜ ̻̞S͘O̰̬̦M̫̠Ȩ̰͉̝Ẉ̻̖Ḩ̱̟̻̤̘̙͔Ẹ̙̠̮̯̬R̤̪̣̟̘͘E̝̹]̗̯

See the boy in centre stage, illuminated and ghastly, pale back arching up towards the sky. Count the knobs and curls of the spine. Count the fine hairs on his arms and legs.

[ENTER FROM STAGE REAR – T̩̬H̩̪̙E̢͍ ̛̮̥͈̞̫D̮̫̦̙́E̜̜̙̻̭̣Ṣ̟̀E̟̭̩ͅR̖̱̫͔͕T]

See a man draped in black, dripping in midnight satin, emerge. See his broad brimmed hat, his gloved hands, his hidden face. The Desert opens his mouth and lets out a stream of bright television static. It’s unintelligible, but also completely understandable.

“Who are you now? After all of this, who are you?”

See the boy. He thought, after all of it, he’d be a different person. He thought that by falling apart he would emerge as something better. He thought that by running away he could control life, that by building his ego he could conquer fear.

A rusting red car, with two tyres missing and an engine full of death, sits in one corner of the stage. In another, a group of people, friendly faces with names like “Max”, “Shelby” and “Floor”, stand watching. They whisper to each other.

On the front of the stage, his sister kneels, phone in hand, trying to find that precious lifeline that will connect them again. She is close, but oh so far.

The boy sits hunched over his own knees, a mottled, papery and fragile human lump. With each careful brush of fingertip against skin, more came off until he sits amongst small mountains of forgotten skin, the fallout from his brush with the sun.

The skin underneath is not new and clean like he had wanted at the beginning of his short adventure, but pink and violent. An eruption of pain and dryness. He went through a wasteland seeking to find himself, but has ended up as part of it.

He falls forward, letting legs come out from underneath him. Laying with chest against the cool grey floor, he admits “there are no fresh starts… I couldn’t find one out there… I want to go home.”

“Nonsense,” The Desert says, “This is your home now.”

[EXIT STAGE REAR – ͓͇̮͖̩͇Ț͙̦͎̱̟H̙͉̮̝̯̩̹E̲̩ ̙̺DESER̗̺̣̜͕T͚̥̰͎]

Continue reading “Sunset – Operation Electric Forever – Part 9”

Dust – Operation Electric Forever – Part 8

[EXT./INT. – THE LAST HIGHWAY – WHITE HOT SKY LOOKS DOWN]

See the boy. He struggles with the car’s air conditioning. For the past two hours it has been spitting out nothing but dusty heat. The car groans and shivers as if in the critical stages of sunstroke.

See the boy, his right arm burnt red raw by the sun, his face a mess of sweat, salt and redness. His beard is thin and scratchy, yet visible. Across from him, sits a tall figure in black, hunched over and spread across the passenger seat like some wet, eldritch thing. Behind the boy, the tall figure in black also sits, sprawled out across the back seat, amongst boxes, bottles and sleeping bags. Around him, the desert sprawls outwards. Somewhere out there, The Desert stands, tall and brooding, drenched in electric midnight, watching.

Continue reading “Dust – Operation Electric Forever – Part 8”

Photographic Evidence – Operation Electric Forever – Part 6

[EXT./INT. – LUKE’S CAR – THE SUN BLAZES THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD OF A RUSTING RED FORD LASER]

See the boy in centre stage. That is, in the centre of the entire world. As his vehicle rips and tears through the rugged landscape, the planet moves around him like an endlessly repeating pantomime panorama.

A town passed by about an hour ago. The audience (that’s you) surely would have seen the boy leave his car on the side of a wide road in the middle of that town, walk into a quaint convenience store and pick up a veggie pasty and an iced coffee. What the audience would never have been able to guess without narration is that the boy would have loved a curry pie, stuffed full of beef and oil… but his character is a vegetarian at this stage of the story.

“Wise choice.” said the shimmering black mass that was sitting patiently in the passenger seat. “Appearing to care is one of the most important things in this life.”

[ENTER FROM THE DRIVER’S SIDE DOOR: THE BOY]

“I do care. I don’t want to hurt anything that has feelings.”

[Mockingly] “Then why drive a car? Why wear a leather belt?” The Desert asks the boy. The creature speaks in a rough hum, like the background radiation of the Big Bang, but even still, the question sounds cruel.

[Defensively yet apathetic] “Shut up” says the boy.

Continue reading “Photographic Evidence – Operation Electric Forever – Part 6”

Memory One – Operation Electric Forever – Part 5.5

[EXT. – HEADING OUT – AROUND NOON]

See the boy, feet in the dust, sitting half-way in and half-way out of a rusting red car. See him parked on the side of a long and winding highway, a road to the Everywhere that he is chasing.

The engine cools and the wind blows through the open windows. There is a fine layer of orange dust growing on the back seat, a back seat already covered with boxes upon boxes of food, water, tool kits, toiletries… whatever really.

The see the boy flick through the glowing box in his hand. He is looking for clues, memories, stories to guide him. He is looking for support from people that he has hardly talked to in years. He is looking for recognition.

See the boy retreat into memory. As he lifts his gaze and stares into the slowly undulating horizon, see lights flicker on his mind. Delve deep into his thoughts and see the images and memories unfold. Continue reading “Memory One – Operation Electric Forever – Part 5.5”

Roads – Operation Electric Forever – Part 5

[EXT./INT. – LUKE’S CAR – PINK SUNRISE OVER A HORIZON]

See the boy’s white knuckles wrapped around the steering wheel. It is made of red hot and blistering rubber. Hear the air-conditioning working overtime to cool the rusting red box.

See through the windows of the vehicle, the endless flat stage of red dust and sunburnt scrub. It halts, five kilometres away, at a wall of pale blue. The car is silent apart from the complaints of the air-conditioning, the low rumbling of the small engine and a scratchy pop-tune playing over a radio. The car has no antenna.

See the boy’s eyes fixed on the road in front of him, wide and straight as an arrow. At the speed he is travelling one wrong move, one wheel in the dust, one kangaroo bouncing wildly, would be a disaster. Suspense for the sake of suspense!

[ENTER FROM SOMEWHERE – THE DESERT] Continue reading “Roads – Operation Electric Forever – Part 5”