a spatial poetry installation

> Version with French text published on bleuOrange. Thanks to Anick Bergeron for the translation!

> Read Ron Silliman's review of a performance of open.ended in Philadelphia at AUTOSTART, here's an excerpt: " many of these would I bother to read if I saw it as pure text on a plain printed page? Realistically, only Aya Karpinska’s collaboration with Daniel Howe..."

> Featured in special New Media Poetics issue of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac

> Published in Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One


  open.ended screen rab  


the project may be viewed in two formats:

Java Applet
suitable for all computers

recommended for newer computers only

non-interactive demo on YouTube

how to experience:

Turn on your speakers to hear the poem as you interact with it.

Click in the center of the screen and drag to control the movement of both cubes simultaneously.

Use the two sliders at bottom to control the movement of each cube individually. Initially, the inner and outer cubes are set to "free", they are in constant motion. By moving the sliders, you can rotate the cubes one side at a time, pausing at each side to read the text. When you make the two cubes align, new parts of the poem appear. Simply double-click anywhere on the screen to set each slider back to "free" and let the cubes rotate by themselves again.



Extending poetry beyond the printed page into interactive spaces calls for novel ways of designing the poetic experience. As authors access a broadening range of technologies, new methods of augmenting the reader experience become available. A work’s entry and exit points may change across viewings, the ordering and spatialization of words may update dynamically, and the work may transform itself in ways independent of the reader. open.ended is an interactive, three-dimensional poem which explores such techniques.


open.ended is designed to reveal itself through continually shifting geometric surfaces. Verses appear on the faces of separate, translucent cubes nested within one another.

rendering of poem in a gallery setting
Rendering of open.ended in a gallery setting, where a joystick is used to control the
position of the nested cubes.

To experience the work, the reader manipulates a joystick to bring stanzas on different surfaces into view. As cubes, faces, and layers are manipulated by the reader, dynamically updating lines move in and out of focus. The fractal structure of the poem allows it to be read in any number of ways; from single verses on cube faces, to sequential verses across faces, to juxtapositions of verses across multiple cubes. Order is deliberately ambiguous, allowing for shared lines across geometric surfaces and encouraging multiple readings. Meaning is constructed actively through collaboration between reader, author and mediated work.


Unlike works that employ digital and networked media simply as effective distribution mechanisms, open.ended attempts to leverage the specific affordances of the medium. Using real-time 3D rendering and dynamic text generation, open.ended invites the reader to reconsider the very experience of reading. Meaning is generated collaboratively as the reader works through the poem and lines of verse appear, vanish, and combine. New potential for juxtaposition, association, and layered meaning are enabled via real-time interaction which becomes a primary component in the poetic experience.

author biographies

Aya Karpinska is an artist whose work and play focuses on using digital media to extend and enhance interactions in physical and virtual spaces. Her diverse output includes installation art, computer music, digital poetry, graphic design, and game design. Her 3-D poetry has been featured in international festivals and conferences, most recently at the Bushwick Art Projects festival in New York City. She received her Master's degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, and currently works as an interaction designer in New York City.

Aya Karpinska
Digital Media Artist
aya at technekai dot com

Daniel Canazon Howe is a digital media artist and researcher at NYU's Media Research Lab. His interests include generative software paradigms, alternative interfaces & social aspects of technology design. He has published on a variety of topics including Trust Online, Value-Sensitive Design, & Virtual Ethics. Current projects include RAPUNSEL, a massively multi-player gaming environment designed to foster code literacy in children; as well as the Open Media Exchange, a framework & communications protocol for sharing media-based software components over heterogeneous networks. In addition to a background in creative writing & improvisational music, Daniel has masters' degrees in Computer Science (UW) & Interactive Media (ITP), as well as nearly ten years of industry experience as a software designer, educator & artist.

Daniel C. Howe
Media Research Lab
daniel at mrl dot nyu dot edu


all content © canazon & technekai 2004