Portal to an alternate 1982 made from obscure YouTube playlists.
All credit to chameleon for this discovery. Novas is a cyberpunk rock opera by Nate Cull, all planned out in hypertext - and perfect for the quarantined audience - there is no theatre for us to go to. But this circumvents that, staging the scenes directly in your mind. You queue up the playlists in the background and then return to the text to read the storyline.
I’m not going to say much more about the story - if you’re really curious, you should go head straight over.
It just sort of came out of my subconscious, because most of this music is what I heard in the 1980s as a kid, and it always seemed like there must be some kind of backstory to all these strange people dressing like scientists and singing about nuclear war, space, and living inside computers. When I rediscovered this music in the mid-2010s, somehow the suspicion grew on me that I could write a story out of all these found components. And so this is that story, for that kid in the 1980s.
Novas (so far) spans around twenty playlists and accompanying blog posts. The whole thing is a great reminder of what can be done to make Wordpress into a wiki-like system. (I love the layout of Nate’s home page.)
This project happened on Wordpress (and YouTube). And I’m not sure there’s anything that millions of lines of code in our ‘modern’ platforms could do to augment it. I could definitely see this happening on Reddit - maybe Twitter, in some limited fashion - but definitely not on Facebook or Instagram. But, in many ways, these systems do the opposite - they would constrain the experience of this.
I struggle to sort out why we’ve pushed ourselves further away from hypertext, particularly since browsers continue to give the form more power. Novas is an example of the creativity that can emerge simply by using tools to form connections - to link audio and text together in a new fashion.
This feels somewhere between interactive fiction, mp3 blogging and nostalgic fanfic. (I might as well call it a directory of links while I’m here!) If anyone out there has had aspirations to dabble with making fun hypertext, there is a lot to spring off from here.
I’m also an instant Martha and the Muffins fan. ‘Echo Beach’ is a sick track! ↩︎