An Introduction to the New Media Art of Jason Nelson

- NMEDIAC Contributing Editor Jennifer Ley

If you've been involved with electronic literature longer than the past few years, you know how repetitive much Flash-based poetry can seem. The footprint of Flash programming is, in itself, so strong it can squash even the most original poetic intentions. So to find a poet who has found a way to make Flash talk his talk, walk his walk, and not the other way around -- a poet who in his own words says, "Flash is my good friend as of late...we make happy happy love in the fort we've built out of comforters and couch cushions..." is to find a poet whose work is well worth celebrating.

What upsets many traditional readers about hypertext, hypermedia, and e-lit in general is its often slick appearance, code tricks and perhaps most importantly, its lack of closure. Modernism was an important movement in writing and the arts, but we have entered a new century, and recent events have left many readers asking for a bit more than sonal wallpaper from the writers they're willing to read.

Jason Nelson's use of Flash draws us into his own comforter and couch cushion fort of language, symbol, sound and meaning. His work speaks the tongue of people, not trends, fads or fetishes. Through the medium of the Web he pulls us further into a world he has inhabited, and thus in which he can serve as gracious host. Whether by the means his work uses to lure us into teasing out its secrets, best seen in "in an unrelated sequence comes" [first on the Web at UK artist Stanza's site:], where mouse movement triggered sound encourages us to consider the formal characteristics of the work's presentation while counter pointing the poem's lyric elegance, or reminds us of the price we pay for our use of technology, seen in "Superstitious Appliances", Nelson does not shirk his responsibility to his readers. Asked to search for links, the reader's actions are rewarded cognitively.

It is rare for hypermedia poetry to offer a sense of dramatic fruition, of entry, progression, denouement and closure without strict adherence to one author-driven timeline. When it does, we begin to see what the overused term "interactivity" can mean for e-literature, and why it makes sense for poets to ask their audience to give up the solace of paper for the computer screen.

Superstitious Appliances & in an unrelated sequence comes
- Jason Nelson

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