1. It’s been over a year since I first saw Roderick Coover’s video The Theory of Time Here (there’s a teeny video preview available; click the teeny blinking camcorder icon), created in collaboration with writer Deb Unferth. I still can’t get it out of my head. Footage of London traffic and passersby plays harmony to computer voiceover melody in this six-and-a-half-minute jewel of a piece. Cars and people are shot in a way that makes them seem like words and phrases traveling back and forth across the screen, a kind of spoken-word Ballet Mécanique. If the repetitive, speaking-clock voice (“At the tone / everyone went / was / was already / now is not / everyone was not”) were perfectly timed with the frequent visual cuts, the effect would have been trite. Instead, the slightly-off timing gives the voice a force, as if it is controlling the minute workings of the city. Unlike most works of writing in digital media, this one can be purchased: a DVD is available from the Video Data Bank.
2. This evening I attended a tech networking event, full of freelancers and start-up fever. One of the presenters demonstrated speakertext, which pairs YouTube videos with its text transcription. The transcription is done by the human drones of Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk service. With speakertext, you can search through the video via text, pull out a quote and use it to link to a precise moment within the stream. Flexible, mutable, and quick to travel over the Internet, text is the ultimate digital interface. The speakertext system is begging for creative use; someone has to do a writing piece with it. Get your video on and save us from copy/paste utility.