Sunday, January 12, 2014

Preserving Digital Literature: 'Alleph: A Self Portrait' by Sakab Bashir (2003)

'Alleph: A Self Portrait' won a BAFTA Interactive Arts Award in 2003 for its author Sakab Bashir. The work is no longer available online, but I include some screen shots here from a prolonged study I made of it as part of my graduate work for a earlier incarnation of my PhD thesis. 'Alleph' is a beautiful multimedia production in which links opened to audio and video loops. Seven spaces linked together to provide an allegory of the major stages of life. Material was lifted from the 12th Century Sufi poem The Conference of the Birds and intertwines with material sampled from popular films from the 20th Century, images of a school, a prison, a hospital, a workshop and a menhirs on a hill. There are adaptations of seven verse stories from The Conference of the Birds in Alleph; ‘A Pauper in Love’, ‘The Heron and the Sea’, ‘Rabe’eh and the Two Grains of Sand’, ‘The Ambiguous Courtesan’, ‘The Devil Complains’, ‘Joseph and the Well’ and ‘The Martyrdom of Hallaj’. Titles flowed across the screen and one manipulated and navigated the text of 'Alleph'. As one navigated further through the work the flowers opened around the main image, thus positioning the reader in the looping structure of 'Alleph' (it resumed again once the final image had been completed for links and media).

I present a few screen shots here to give an idea of what 'Alleph' looked.

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