Three Entrances

8:30 AM, Wednesday 15 Aug 2018 (1 hour)

This talk will link a discussion of the interface to the representation of fictional entrances in narratives. In the effort to keep it within the time limit, it is built around three images of the entrance: the moment in Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad when the fantastical, titular train first appears in the novel, Alexander Galloway’s treatment of our interface on the fictional world of Norman Rockwell’s Triple Self-Portrait, and the opening few “rooms” of the 1976 Colossal Cave Adventure, a classical electronic narrative that pioneered the text-based interface on the textual world that defined interactive fiction.

The goal of this talk will be to investigate the concept of the interface as a term that can travel between the design of the artifact (digital, written, or visual text) and the world represented. Galloway provides an account of the politics of the interface, and I will explore how that account explains these three very different texts. This talk will close by connecting the issue of the interface to the design of the fictional world to our interface on it. In particular, I will argue for a link between what we can call the world’s infrastructure, the mechanical features that allow characters and readers to move around and see into parts of the world, with the way that text claims a place in the interpersonal experiences of readers, or what Galloway describes as “the social” in his theory.

Mississippi State University

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