New Media text: Golpe de Gracia from Jaime Alejandro Rodríguez Ruiz.

Author of El Relato Digital, Jaime Alejandro Rodríguez Ruiz (with his team of designers) has once again proven himself to be a serious artist and innovator in the realm of electronic narrative with the golpedegracia.jpgrelease of his latest piece, Golpe de Gracia.  Rodríguez Ruiz, who teaches at the University of Javeriana in Bogotá, continues to prove himself a shape-shifter, metamorphosizing his narratives into whatever new media forms he encounters.  As a result, his works serve as lessons of the possibility and limitations of these forms.  They are a kind of literary stylebook, encyclopedias of forms, as he would have it.  From Gabriella Infinita to Golpe de Gracia, we can trace his experiments in these forms, which both stand alone and combine to build complex narratives.

Gabriella Infinita

Gabriellla Infinita, a metamorphical work, is a lesson in the evolution of the internet. WRT referenced this work in last year’s DAC paper.

  • Novel
  • Hypertext
  • Hypermedia

In the tale, Gabriella arrives at the apartment of her lover, Frederico, the author, only to find him disappeared.  In his stead, she has only his things, his writings, his clippings, his recordings. At the same time, in a parallel narrative, a group of people try to escape a building. They are trapped, moreso than they think, for they are characters in one of his stories. Since Rodríguez Ruiz made all of these versions available on the web (with commentaries), they serve as an excellent study in the forms themselves.  In no way a lesson in progress, the adaptations and translations of his own tale reveal the strengths and limitations of these forms.

Through Rodríguez Ruiz’s commentaries, however, we can track his own narrative of creation and discovery. We can read his novel bursting forth, asking to be in a different form, remeniscent of Michael Joyce’s tale of his writing before StorySpace.

In the hypertext, we feel his pull towards hypermedia. In the author’s room, we find recordings, films, and writings. In the hypermedia form these will be made real (or at least digital) as sound recordings replace typed monologues.

The hypermedia uses bitmaps to create visualizations of the apartment, searchable spaces.  And yet in the hypermedia and hypertext, I could not help but feel the pull back towards the novel, with the kind of free movement that only physical sheets of paper seem to offer. By posting the various iterations, Jaime Alejandro has offered us a tremendous resource for comparative analysis of adaptations and reincarnation across media forms.

Golpe de Gracia

The new work, Golpe de Grace, reflects Jaime’s growth and development as an author and designer as it looks death in the eye to see from contemporary times to pre-Columbian eras.

Sin duda, Golpe de Gracia is a seminal work in interactive narrative. Part game, part tale, part experience. It brings together Flash, blogs, wikis, narrative, expository writing, sound, images… According to the accompanying blog (And loosely translated):

Making use of the articulation of diverse communicative forms (animation, games, images, music, sounds, voices, and text), this interactive multimedia tells the events a man who has a near-death experience, having been a victim of an assault.  The objective is to explore the circumstances.

According to Rodríguez Ruiz, the man on his deathbed is a metaphor for the old paradigms, on the verge of submitting to our new way of seeing and experiencing. The man is also Amaury Gutierrez, a priest.

Now, Jaime and his team show a mastery of interface design.  Although the piece still seems to reach out towards the great unknown along every electronic thread it can find, it feels more anchored or at least networked to the central node of the main Flash page.

Again, we find throughout the piece a search for narrative, but the way the tale is distributed across forms and themes, the search is much more deeply epistemological than even Gabriella’s search became.

As in the final iteration of Gabriella Infinita, there a three worlds shown below on this sitemap.


Each world is made up of several layers: 

  • The story/introduction
  • a game
  • context
  • profundazacion (deepening, profundity)
  • constuction

The Story

I cannot begin to unravel the story in a brief post.  It begins in the first world at a death bed.  On the first scene you stand at the death bed of your boss, your priest, your father… You can switch the identity of the dying man (significantly a man not doubt in this tale of a passing away of former power), and you can bring on the visitors who address the dying with the courtesy of Job’s friends.  The priest, Amaury Gutierrez is only one of these men. 

In each of the worlds, the interface changes, though Amaury will remain central.  Searching through his office in the third world seems most like Gabriella Infinita, though the interface is far less abstract, more Flash-clean computer cartoonish, which preserves some a sense of stylistic coherence.  Your mission is to find out what has really happened to him.  In doing so, you encounter the cyberanarchist, Angel Maldonado.


The Games:

Each world has an accompanying game.  These range from “an exquisite corpse” (Which complements the first world) to a kind of 3rd-person adventure maze world, where players go about collecting fragments of stories by talking to sailors and avoiding monsters.  Certainly non-trivial activities here and a broad notion of play!

The Profundizacion:

These are a set of b2evolution blogs that offer opportunities for Jaime Alejandro to offer some commentary.

Jaime Alejandro is one of those rare internet artist who offers us not only his piece but also extensive reflections on them that also, ultimately, become part of the piece.

What we get is a truly multi-modal interrogation of the death of old forms and life-through-death, brought to us by Rodríguez Ruiz’s lovely and searching portal.  In the eye of the dying narrative paradigms, we see a vision of technologies multiplying the possibilities for the future of new media narratives in a gesture towards potential worlds beyond.

Jaime Alejandro is also coordinator of the panel on digital narrative at the  III Congreso Online Observatorio para la Ciber Sociedad.

3 Responses to “Golpe de Gracia, a coup for Rodríguez Ruiz”

  1. 1 Jaime Alejandro Rodríguez

    Excelent. Describes the two works very well

  1. 1 Interview with Jaime Alejandro Rodríguez Ruiz at WRT: Writer Response Theory
  2. 2 L’autokteb d’Abdel » Blog Archive » Découvrez Golpedegarcia, une hyper fiction Colombienne

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