Geolocative Storytelling Off the Map
This paper explores the effects of sonic implacement in L.A. Flood. Engaging locative literature in situ, a reader can pull audio files that come very close to replicating the experience of hearing such files off-site. But same is not true of the visual interface, which is flat and sensory-impovershed. The deep attention one musters reading locative fiction on desktop is shattered by hypermediation in situ: buildings tower above us, sunlight and air press upon our skin; our devices, other people, weather and other on-site variables distract us from concentrated reading. Distracted reading creates a productive, hyperattentive cognitive dissonance.
In a video by Talan Memmott (Interrogating Electronic Literature), J.R. Carpenter discusses "between" as a third space between lexia and embodiment: "l'entre-espace." In English, "between" is a null value. French language endows "l'entre-space" with dimension, a space of cognition that permits critical thinking. L.A. Flood challenges readers to rethink not just that city's fungible borders, but lived space and racist and classist limitations of access to such space. The cognitive and emotive potential presented by L.A. Flood is conjured with unique richness in audio lexia, which use the human voice to convey extratextual information about the lexia: the actors' voices are vessels of tone, attitude and musicality that imbue the lexia with extrasignificance that can't redound to the text alone.
Hearing lexia endows them with a ghostly being, a borrowed vitality from the actors, that haunts actual physical space.
I likened reading L.A. Flood to reading serial fiction during the nineteenth century, when readers would have to wait months between installments. Close reading, distant reading: locative lit prompts us to think about persistence ("enduring reading") in new ways. Fictive ghosts don't just ramble around our imaginations, as they do in reaction to codex books, but in actual space tied to precise geospatial metadata. We encounter the ghosts when we pass through the actual spaces. The readers' experience of such characters is cumulative, layered atop the physical sites one visits (or doesn't) in L.A. Flood.
<blockquote>L.A. Flood challenges readers to rethink not just that city's fungible borders, but lived space and racist and classist limitations of access to such space.</blockquote>
<blockquote>Close reading, distant reading: locative lit prompts us to think about persistence ("enduring reading") in new ways.</blockquote>