On a simple level remediation, “the representation of one medium in another” (Bolter and Grusin 44), introduces the reception practices associated with both old and new media for Dreamaphage. The remediation of a book calls upon the reading practices traditionally associated with that particular material form (reading left to right in English, type script arranged on flat pages arranged in order, a set sequence of pages etc.). In Dreamaphage, five three-dimensional virtual objects, which in form and function resemble printed books, compose the majority of the work. The reader opens the cover, turns the pages and reads the lines of printed text in the virtual-books from a first-person perspective as one does an actual book. However, due to the Flash programing, the virtual pages can only be opened one at a time in an order starting from the first page. In this way randomness has been precluded from reading. Despite the clear simulation, the books in Dreamaphage do not make it possible for the reader to “learn how to participate in the construction of a text, searching in ways the author might never have anticipated, yoking ideas together which were to be located at different points in the work” (Rhodes and Sawday 2000 7), according to the traditional design of the codex book. Rather, the simulated books of Dreamaphage restrict reading by controlling order and positioning the reader in a temporal relationship with narrative that is grounded in a shared representational space.
The concept of remediation (Bolter and Grusin 1999) is just one historical dimension that makes close reading relevant to the analysis of digital literature. Remediation is “Defined by Paul Levenson as the “anthropotropic” process by which new media technologies improve upon or remedy prior technologies. We define the term differently, using it to mean the formal logic by which new media refashion prior media forms. Along with immediacy and hypermediacy, remediation is one of the three traits of our genealogy of new media” (Bolter and Grusin 2000 273). As I go on to explain through my analysis, remediation has the effect of the awareness of media according to historical praxis in reading. I examine address, the prefaces, perspective and the representation of place in the works as making reference or including remediation. Finally, emerging from the historical, it is not the temporality suggested by interactive media that creates tensions between digital technology and close reading, rather it is the process of interactive meaning making that is problematic for traditional close reading methods. The digital works are interactive, fluid, and dynamic, and as I demonstrate in my analysis, open to close reading that accounts for these factors. For this reason the methodological points for close reading digital literature outlined by Ciccoricco (2012) are useful for this present study.
Remediation is a central element in how representational space is negotiated in reading narrative. Remediation, as I have already described, is “the formal logic by which new media refashion prior media forms” (Bolter and Grusin 2000 273) in “the mediation of mediation” (Bolter and Grusin 2000 56). How this refashioning can influence reception should firstly be understood in terms of reading as a historical and acquired practice. Readers’ respond to remediation with an awareness of media as representing sets of historical practices and responses. Each reference to an older medium in the digital is also a reference to the consumption practices associated with that form. This historical awareness is an important element in reading representational space in the works. Remediation in design is also meaningful due to the qualities it brings to the works. In the digital works each example of remediation adds perspectives to reading, such as a video, a book, or a phone, with each providing a point of view within the overall narrative structure. These remediated elements perform functions within digital narrative similar to characters, with a medium providing a point of view in the overall structure of the text. Due to the simulative nature of remediation in the digital works, each example of remediation comes with a perspective on narrative.
The lack of a hard or fast boundary is a characteristic shared by the digital prefaces, in a general sense of remediation, which builds upon Genette’s “undefined zone” regarding the reader approaching the text. The preface produces an image of an interior and exterior in relation to the work, offering rules and advice in regards to the reader’s approach and interpretation. The rules of the prefaces are one key element in the performative reading of the works. Each preface functions in relation to the text it introduces, as a guide for reading, including discounting, qualifying, explaining, and contextualizing elements of the work for the reader.
The prefaces embody the remediation of print, which contributes significantly to how reading is introduced. Remediation, or as Bolter and Grusin summarize it the “mediation of mediation” (Bolter and Grusin 2000 56), guides reader attention by introducing the historically and culturally familiar in the representation of print. I contend that this introduction is part of reading the texts, and more specifically it directs reader attention and agency in the authorial prefaces. Thus remediation historicizes the digital works and contextualizes their reading beyond the material instantiations in a set of established reception practices. Remediation accounts for the materiality of addressivity, which in the prefaces exhibits a strict adherence to the conventions of print media. This prescriptive function can be attributed to what Bolter and Grusin explain as,
“The representation of one medium in another [...]. What might seem at first to be an esoteric practice is so widespread that we can identify a spectrum of different ways in which digital media remediate their predecessors, a spectrum depending on the degree of perceived competition or rivalry between the new media and the old” (Bolter and Grusin 2000 45).
In contemporary digital media the practice of remediation is so widespread that it exists in a totalizing spectrum. All forms of media refer back to established forms of mediation, or as Marshal McLuhan pointed out, “the 'content' of any medium is always another medium” (McLuhan 1964 8). For this reason remediation is not taken up in detail in the previous chapter, as it is a basic element in digital media today. In the prefaces, the remediation of the works themselves is clarified and explained by the authorial voice, and this includes references to spatial configuration (including depth, layering and design), which harmonize the various media forms in the works (video, three-dimensional spaces, written text, audio and still images), and represent movement and the passing of time for the reader.
Furthermore the prefaces themselves are remediated elements that frame the reception of the multimodal digital works. The references to remediation in the prefaces are attempts by the authorial voice to control responses to the works based on established reception practices associated with the older media. All forms of media refer back to established forms of mediation, or as Marshal McLuhan pointed out, “the 'content' of any medium is always another medium” (McLuhan 1964 8). In the prefaces, the remediation of the works themselves is clarified and explained by the authorial voice, and this includes references to spatial configuration (including depth, layering and design), which harmonize the various media forms in the works (video, three-dimensional spaces, written text, audio and still images), and represent movement and the passing of time for the reader. Furthermore the prefaces themselves are remediated elements that frame the reception of the multimodal digital works. The references to remediation in the prefaces are attempts by the authorial voice to control responses to the works based on established reception practices associated with the older media.