What is Interactive Fiction? It’s a way to tell a story by having the reader, or visitor to the story site, “play” the story by making choices about what part of the story to go to next – the reader can navigate forwards and backwards throughout the story. There is no directly linear way to experience Interactive Fiction, and much of it has not only text – the story – but also graphics, animation, and sound. It provides a rich, inviting and immersive pathway into narratives.
Shanidar, Safe Return is an interactive story that places a young Neanderthal woman named Haizea in the center of a community’s struggle for survival, as the Cro-Magnins (Homo sapiens) migrate to their once-peaceful territories. Haizea and her band of mixed – Neanderthal and Cro-Magnin – travelers must walk the distance from danger in what is now southern France to safety in their old refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan, a place called Shanidar. They meet a group of Denisovans on the way, and receive guidance from the old H. heidelbergensis shaman, Bihotz.
The show was in November, 2021, before all hell broke loose. And the catalogue just came out, June 2022.
Cecilia Dougherty (USA) DRIFT web-based art, 2020
“Drift” tells the story of a walk the artist took in March, 2020, along the North Shore of Staten Island, NY, just as it was beginning to dawn on people that leisurely strolls might be a bad idea at the present moment. The project was created using basic HTML/CSS coding, and the images were taken with an iPhone. The artist takes a final stroll through favorite parts of her neighborhood before lockdown.
Descriptions of the surroundings and a chronicle of events of the pandemic are mixed with critical thoughts on virus capitalism, such as the experience of resisting the virus in the USA and the inaction of the Trump administration.
I like the way my piece, Drift, is displayed – it’s a good size – not gigantic and not tiny, and it’s at a height and an angle that looks pretty accessible to me. Thank you, CYFEST!
As you listen, the particles of sound (phonos) decide to be heard. Listening affects what is sounding. The relationship is symbiotic.
Curator’s Statement, Jamie Chan:
I wanted to see a collection of artworks together that could speak about daily life and art but outside of categories or commentary, sort of like a stream of water, a walk, a place to rest the mind. Thereness, but not at all reductive. Works that communicate intimately to the viewer through stories with a soft focus. Doesn’t represent a dialog, but represents the relationship between thought process and idea formation. A circle is a thought pattern. Not fiction or nonfiction, neither formal nor informal. Works that are grounded in specific places, groups of people, and rest in fluid qualities of time. A sense of resolution that lingers.
Works not exactly being in service of “process” – not ephemera or document – but concretely living and direct. The form of the works themselves is materially lightweight, diffuse and comprises accumulated gestures, yet is emphatically manual and sourced from the materiality of life and the senses. The works also all resemble piles – larger trajectories and practices exceeding the sense of time that they exist in. These artists capture our attention in both the front and back of our minds, skillfully folding time into a narrative movement that smolders, and the implication of that movement circles us back to elemental and early experiences of the earth and of place, individuals in groups connecting back to the source. JC
Cecilia Dougherty’s small drawings (pencil and conté crayon on paper, various sizes, 2021-22) have been created as the background drawings for episodes from the story she has developed over several visits and much research into the Paleolithic cave art in Spain and France. The story follows Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons on a migration through France, Italy, the Balkans and southward to what is now Iraqi Kurdistan, to a site called Shanidar, the location of the well-documented Neanderthal flower burial. Cecilia Dougherty is a visual artist living in New York.
In the work of Lucía Hinojosa Gaxiola, two decaying leaves reveal their venation patterns where hidden traces suggest a map of movement. She brings landscape to the foreground–the words root, rot and rotation are repeated in her ritual typewritings, and her drawings are made upon uneven ground. Lucía is an interdisciplinary artist and writer from Mexico City, and the editor of diSONARE, an experimental editorial project. Her time-based practice explores the fluidity of language through investigative poetics, resulting in a corpus of visual, sonic, and text-based works. Her expanded poetry practice involves an engagement with the environment and collecting natural and found objects.
Anthony Leslie’s 2014-22 sound diaries are the products of an ongoing daily practice that combines field recording, concentrated listening and first-person narrative. They represent an extensive and growing archive of his sound memories, mostly from his time spent living, working and caregiving in and around Los Angeles. They contain public sounds, domestic sounds, sounds from the world of nature and of music, the voices of friends, family, people on the street, poets, protestors, and others.
I’m creating a web-based interactive story called Shanidar, a sequel to my 2019 piece, TimeBefore Memory (https://paleolithic.ceciliadougherty.com).Shanidar takes place in Paleolithic times and tells a story of a small band of Neanderthals and Cro Magnons on a migration through France, Italy, the Balkans and southward to what is now Iraqi Kurdistan, to a site called Shanidar, which is the location of the famous Neanderthal “flower burial.”
I started Shanidar, while we were, more or less, in lockdown. And while I had traveled to sites in Spain and France to research Time Before Memory, I had to do a most of my research for Shanidar from my desktop. Unable to travel to Europe to gather source materials and take photographs of paleolithic sites, I decided to draw the background imagery for the story and imagine my fictional characters more clearly as people and less as (pre)historical elements.
Both stories have involved research into human species, climate change, patterns of human migration over thousands of years, and most wonderfully, into Paleolithic art, ritual, and behavior. There’s queer and trans influence in the storyline and characters as well, acknowledging a long history of multiplicities of gender.
Shanidar is speculative fiction, and is not science. It questions and critiques scientific findings and observations, nonetheless. I expect to finish this piece in mid-2022. I’m using Twine game software to create the story and am adding not only original imagery, but also an original soundtrack.
The ferry, the bus, the subway. Walk, too. Walk around the neighborhood in the early morning hours, especially, when few people are up and about and you can occasionally take off your mask and enjoy the air, the colors of dawn, and the fragrance of the fall.
Announcing the launch of my new web-based essay, RIDE, about what it feels like being in public and being on public transit in New York. A complete environment for daydreaming, people-watching, and finding your place, your role, in the city.
Interweaving archaeological evidence with speculative fiction, Cecilia Dougherty’s web-based drama Time Before Memory (2019) interrogates the origins of our species and prompts reflection on its present state. Set during the Paleolithic Age (29,900-40,000 years ago) the multimedia play unfolds in three acts, each containing an indefinite number of scenes. The multimedia work was created with Twine — an open-source, engaging story generation platform — and combines elements of video games, literature, photography, and video. The tension between individual autonomy versus collective action, alongside interrelated issues of land, migration, and competition, is a major theme throughout Time Before Memory. Given such motifs, Dougherty’s inventive work of electronic literature resonates in our immediate moment, one marked by toxic individualism, scarcity of resources, and widespread fear stoked by nativist rhetoric.
Read the entire review HERE – it’s a really good read. Tony Huffman understands this piece.
Today, fundamental changes are taking place on our planet, and our entire lifestyle is being re-examined. We’re seeing other forms of life existing in what feels like a parallel universe – which we used not pay such close attention to – now invade our lives. Such inalienable rights as freedom of movement, meeting friends, socializing, and saying our last farewells have suddenly become impossible. The pandemic caught us unaware. Like in Noah’s Ark, we are locked up with our families and pets, or on our own as we move towards a new technogenic life. Virtual reality has suddenly crept into our lives and is asserting its rights. Social networks are becoming the only form of contact with the outside world, with friends and family. If personal QR-codes contain all the information about a person, including biological data, then where will the boundary of state interference in our private lives be? Perhaps, this crucible of changes will change society and our everyday reality drastically, help us to shed the unnecessary and superficial things in life, and to gain a better understanding of ourselves and the people around us. –theme description from the Cyfest/Cyland site
Francesca Fini (Italy), /S)CONFINAMENTO — first chapter, 2020