Image + Narrative

Image + Narrative

Anne Burdick

In collecting essays for ebrs 6 and 7, the editors sought work that would not only talk about image and narrative theory in the networked environment; we wanted essays with design elements in their very construction. The essays were presented in the context of Anne Burdick’s first integral design for the journal itself, ebr version 2.0.

ebr6/7 image + narrative winter 97/98 and summer 98

Welcome a two-part issue on narrative theory and the image. [the original interface, ebr2.0, can be accessed here - ed.]

In this double issue we hope to explore through literature a transition already evident in the culture at large, where technology has enabled narratives of all types to undergo transformation by the image. Increasingly, our ways of telling stories, of creating meaning, are weighted away from a sole reliance on words. It’s not just that literary works and criticism have started to incorporate imagery as decoration or visual accompaniment. Writing itself is being changed by the image, and what counts as “literary” is being broadened (with more far-ranging consequences than the celebrated collapse of “high” into “low” art). Our contributors offer experiments in visual criticism, and so begin a process of thinking through spatial form as rhetoric, where image is integral to literature’s poetics, and integral, too, to the experience of “reading.”

The pervasiveness of this turn toward the image is indicated by the range of contributors who came forward: poets, fiction writers, book artists, literary critics, graphic designers, visual artists, and authors/artists whose work cuts across genres and media. Proposals were received from England, Germany, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Finland, and Norway, as well as many parts of the U.S. - an indication at the organizational level of the textual linkage taken up by several contributors.

And at the structural level: the new ebr design is itself an orchestration of texts and images within the space of a visual metaphor. Taking literally the image of electronic discourse as a set of conversational “threads,” we have woven ebr and its various sections into a kind of fabric, a set of interactive texts becoming a textile. The metaphor serves as a navigational and rhetorical device lending coherence and narrative rhythm to the ongoing concerns of the triquarterly issues (now presented as a lengthening string on a single interface). As you go deeper into the content, you encounter the individual strands that make up the weave, until nothing is left but a single thread (which you are free to pick up in the riPOSTe section in the spring [of 1998], when its design will be completed).

Steve Tomasula
Anne Burdick
Joseph Tabbi