I spent some time interacting with the electronic literature High Much a Much: Playing Chinese, and I will in this blogpost share my thoughts and observation regarding this interactive poem.
The website adresses racism, intercultural exchange, imitation, history and economics regarding Chinese immigration to Canada. The story is about Chinese immigrants who move to Canada, where their culture is thrown away and illegitimate.
One of the creators of the piece is Fred Wah, who grew up in Nelson, B.C. Canada, working in his father’s Chinese restaurant. He is passionate about telling the story of his «blood ancestry» and his «passing» privilege mixed with the complexity of his racialized family identity.
The piece relies on its modality; it is not just a narrative – it only makes sense by combining the different modalities. The piece relies on its pictures, the meaning in the text, the sound and the non-linear narrative.
The webpage has calming, traditional Chinese music from the start-page and through the narrative to set the mood. The music is mellow and kind of melancholy. The drawings are soft and hand-drawn, and it looks like the artist used watercolors, creating vibes of tradition and older times. The pages looks like old paper, and the artist is using traditional artifacts to create a vivid narrative. You get the feeling of it being a folk-tale; an old story which has been passed down orally and which reveals the customs of these difficult times and their culture.
A multimodal text will always be a product of a culture. By combining the visual and the verbal, the artists creates a deeper understanding of the content; the sadness and hard times of the immigrants. When reading this interactive narrative the modalities creates different expectations to each other. It is important to publish this kind of storys to raise awareness of the struggles of ethnic group meeting western culture, fight against racism and prejudice, and in this case raise criticism in Canada and internationally.
High Muck a Muck is like a kind of a game whose primary purpose is something other than entertainment. When you do it in this way and the readers interact with the story, puts themselves in the refugee shoes and through hyperlinks read about what the refugees went through, it makes it real. The piece make an impact and engage the players.