A Flash graphic and music video
by James Pollack

Click to play Sphiros video

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SPHIROS was created in 2009 by James Pollack as a special project during his final semester at Yale University, where he majored in English and was a member of the Writing Concentration.

SPHIROS uses a modified version of the WithinSpace interface (created by net artist Jason Nelson) for the Adobe Flash platform to present the fictional tale of what happens when a timequake creates a world that really is open source.

Art is in the arrangement.

Each layer of SPHIROS is a layer in Flash, and can be populated by any content -- text, image, video, sound, Flash animation, webpage, etc.

These layers are stacked on top of each other and a combination of scaling and transparency is to allow the user to move through the virtual realm at their own leisure.

The artist advises that you can navigate deep into the piece by clicking the mouse and dragging up(in) or down(out)... there are about 70 layers, so viewers should be sure to explore!

The music in this piece is "Se Izst" by Sigur Ros. Most of the text has been appropriated from a variety of sources around the internet. Some of it is original. All the embedded animations were animated by James Pollack, although one was drawn by classmate Noa Kaplan-Sears and another by classmate James Simmons. Pollack tends to think of the screen as a theatrical space; a projection of infinitesimally small physical components onto a wall that we can manipulate. If we press our fists against the screen we may hammer away at it like a door to no avail-- now we open it as a curtain and peer into the room beyond. One goal of SPHIROS is to address the reader directly; to put into practice Bertolt Brecht's verfremdungseffekt. Readers, like the theatergoers Brecht seeks to discomfit, aren't safe behind a static concept of narrative as object (which is to say, text). Narrative isn't something that can be contained on the surface of a page, it isn't caught up in fonts and margins. We construct narrative as a synthesis of our own experience in combination with an experience the materials that the author presents to us. We pick up a book and we put it down: narrative cannot be so contained.

The screen is a partition between that which we know and that which we cannot possibly know. Let it be rent!

Pollack, a Chicago native, plans to work for a year before going to graduate school to get a degree in digital arts, literature, or new media. He is currently working on a version of SPHIROS that uses webcam/facial recognition technology to enable headtracking and create an in-depth relationship between the user and the object in an internet-distributable augmented reality. He plans to use the platform to create exhibitions for art museums, rare books libraries, and historical societies around the country.

View James Pollack's video M U S H