A Walkthrough of Total Walkthrough
with Alejandro Miguel Justino Crawford
Alejandro Crawford practices poetry at one of its most experimental edges, where it crosses with and benefits from the special capacities of computing. Crawford has done impressive work already in both fields; in 2007 he won a Fulbright and moved to Lisbon, Portugal where he had been commissioned to perform his operation “transmutilation” working, in part, with Orpheu, the magazine published by Fernando Pessoa and friends. Crawford’s radically recut remix based in part on poems from Orpheu is titled Morpheu (BlazeVox 2010). In 2009 Crawford moved to NYC to study in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU Tisch. His ongoing work with electronic communications media has expanded his arsenal of poetic technique to include things like video and sound-mixing and the reappropriation of video game hardware to run text-manipulating algorithms. But what he does is not only technically cutting edge, it's weird and funny and fun.
Take for example his recent work with Chris Sylvester’s Total Walkthrough. Sylvester’s project already crosses multiple media; it creates a a composite of several walkthroughs of a Legend of Zelda game (media 1: video game) derived from user-generated narrative accounts of game play uploaded to the public FAQ section of a gaming websites such as IGN or GameSpot (media 2: public user review sites), alphabetizes each line (media 3: spread sheet), and Troll Thread publishes it as a book (media 4: book) on Lulu (media 5: print on demand constrains aspects of the book's design, makes it available for purchase one-at-a-time and forever or available instantly on your computer, meaning you save a tree). Crawford then takes the text of Total Walkthrough and, with software he has written for Xbox Kinect (click here to learn how Kinect works), translates movements from within the Kinect-field into the appearance of lines from Total Walkthrough on the computer screen, but potentially also via projector. Moreover, “Link” adds the further constraint of the computer screen's dimensions. No matter how long the line in Sylvester’s book, in Crawford’s version every line is limited to 40 characters so as not to roll off the screen.