Paths of Memory and Painting by Judy Malloy

Introduced at the University of California at Berkeley Center for New Media Roundtable in February 2010 and exhibited this June at the Electronic Literature Organization Conference, Judy Malloy’s Paths of Memory and Painting — — is a new media poetry trilogy that is composed of a series of composite screens of narrative poetry. The reader views multiple paths through narrative information as parallel trails of lexias lead to different parts of a narrative told by Dorothy Abrona McCrae, a Bay Area Figurative painter.

In Part I, _where every luminous landscape_, the main narrative thread takes part in the San Francisco Bay Area in the years beginning with World War II. But the narrator also relates other aspects her life and work, recollects the lives of California artist adventurers, and describes her paintings of historical artists and writers. The interface is a complex narrative array of eight lexias, that each lead to further development of the story yet at the same time can be read contingently in the array.

Part II, _when the foreground and the background merged_, is composed of three scenes that all take place at the same dinner with an Army officer in Berkeley in 1944. Told in a series of side-by-side lexias that move at a separate pace, the work allows the reader to follow different directions in the conversation, as well the narrator’s memories of her own work and the work of other artists.

Part III is a closing text-based trio sonata with the same name as the trilogy, _paths of memory and painting_. Written in three part contrapuntal composition, Part III follows the memories, experiences and thoughts of the narrator as she sits in a cafe in Berkeley in the present time and concludes with a coda that brings the reader back to the array with which — in _where every luminous landscape_ — the work begins .

Using an innovative series of arrays of lexias and complex yet related narrative information, Paths of Memory and Painting — — is a poetic hypernarrative that takes the reader on a journey of recollected art experience. The reading experience suggests successive text-paintings that chronicle the changes in a painter’s work, beginning with her early work as a landscape painter.

Judy Malloy

home page:

Narrabase Notebook: