The Lair of the Marrow Monkey

From Rhizome Artbase
Erik Loyer

The Lair of the Marrow Monkey (1998) is an interactive investigation into the seductive power of digital technology. The website's main focus falls on a single character who goes by the name of Orion17. Orion is a minimalist composer who is fascinated to the point of obsession with the patterns and logic that frame reality. "I would leave all this in a moment if I could be the marrow, the idea, the virus, the entity whose self is not corporeal," he explains. When a powerful vision shows him the way to achieve his dream of uniting with the world of abstraction, Orion makes the leap and joins a small team of researchers at the newly-founded Institute for Investigation into the Mind of Marrow. There, he experiences first-hand both the euphoria and the frustration that comes from living life as a "marrow monkey."
Most Shockwave applications on the Web at the time the piece was created were either linear animation pieces or novelty games, and relatively few developers had tried to create truly dynamic pieces that responded in detailed, meaningful ways to user input. This was one of the main objectives of the site: to begin to show how a highly dynamic, abstract interface can play a significant role in communicating setting and narrative to users. Representational graphics were deliberately avoided in an attempt to strip down the language of interactivity to archetypal levels. Music, on the other hand, was used extensively to contrast with the spare visual language.
The site consists of nine scenes, each of which functions much like an aria in an opera, a "frozen moment" during which a character's current situation and concerns can be revealed in detail. Many scenes require active participation on the part of the user in constructing or exploring the meaning being conveyed. Users are encouraged to make use of the interface for these scenes to enact the relationships between the ideas, events and characters being presented as part of the narrative. The visceral and dynamic nature of the interactions help to make these relationships tactile and interesting for users, allowing them to experience Orion17's obsessions from the inside out.

Erik Loyer
14 May 2001
Legacy descriptive tags
Erik Loyer
Attribution: Erik Loyer
Participatory, Generative, Formalist, Conceptual, Abstract, memory, language, interface, interact, design, audio, Animation, Shockwave, HTML, Visual
Attribution: Rhizome staff
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Erik Loyer