The Letter and the Fly

From Rhizome Artbase

This shockwave applet is based on a scene from the 1922 film, Nosferatu, by F.W. Murnau, with audio from orchestral soundtrack by Hans Erdmann. Interactive setting and programming by Barbara Lattanzi. This is a work of low-bandwidth cinema.

Barbara Lattanzi
5 August 2002

This means that the download process (approximately 10 min. with a 54k modem) is part of the experience of the work. During download, 3.2mb of text, images, and sound gradually will coalesce on your screen.
Interaction: There is only one main screen. How as well as where you move the cursor affects the images and the soundtrack. (Clicking the mouse button does nothing.)
Your interaction orchestrates image and sound. An algorithm, similar to a random coin toss, controls the text by determining whether the sequence of words progresses forward or backwards. A minute or two later, sound will be heard. If your cursor is over black, then the sound plays forward. If your cursor is over white, then the sound plays backwards.
As images begin to display on screen, they will change depending upon cursor movement or stasis, as well as the cursor's relative positioning on the screen. Eventually over 250 images of tiny file size will download to your computer. Images of horses will appear as the final quarter of the movie begins to display on your screen.
Your browser must have the current Shockwave plugin.

Barbara Lattanzi
5 August 2002

The applets at the website do not have an overall unifying theme. However, a number of the more recent applets serve as "demos" for performative re-editing of selected silent films. Interactivity as a form of presentation and projection takes montage "out of the closet" and makes the interpretive act of editing coincide with the moment of viewer reception. With applets such as "Startle," "The Letter and the Fly," "You Are Late" (and others), the viewer can re-animate selected segments of F.W.Murnau's 1922 film "Nosferatu."
Similar to Nosferatu's 'land of phantoms,' the computer interface is the structured absence that seems to know the viewer. It breathes its automaton being while itself lacking any life-blood. Here, across this interface, the viewer "interacts," as it is politely termed. In other words, she can now vampirize the representation that vampirizes her.

Barbara Lattanzi
5 August 2002
Legacy descriptive tags
Barbara Lattanzi,, Nosferatu, The Letter and the Fly
Attribution: Barbara Lattanzi
Narrative, performance, netart, live, interface, film, cinema, Animation, Shockwave, QuickTime, Javascript, HTML, video, software
Attribution: Rhizome staff
Variant History
outside link
static files
5 August 2002
Rhizome staff