CityFish is a hybrid word, title of a hybrid work, tale of a hybrid creature. A big fish story swallowing a small tale’s tail. A rhizome, a fable, an urban legend. Like an old wives’ tale, it’s long been told and never quite finished. Part classical parable, part children’s picture book, part literary fiction, part collage, part web art, a brand new hypermedia incarnation of CityFish can now be found online at: http://luckysoap.com/cityfish
CityFish is very loosely based Aesop’s Town Mouse Country Mouse fable. Winters, Lynne freezes in Celsius in the fishing village of Brooklyn, Nova Scotia (Canada), a few minutes walk from a white sandy beach. Summers, she suffers her city cousins sweltering in Fahrenheit in Queens, New York (USA). Lynne knows everyone knows it’s supposed to be the other way around. Lynne is a fish out of water. In the country, her knowledge of the city separates her from her school of friends. In the city, her foreignness marks her as exotic. Meanwhile, the real city fish lie in scaly heaps on long ice-packed tables in hot and narrow Chinatown streets.
CityFish represents asynchronous relationships between people, places, perspectives and times through a horizontally scrolling browser window, suggestive of a panorama, a diorama, a horizon line, a skyline, a timeline, a Torah scroll. The panorama and the diorama have traditionally been used in museums and landscape photography to establish hierarchies of value and meaning. CityFish interrupts a seemingly linear narrative with poetic texts, quotations, Quicktime videos, DHTML animations, Google Maps and a myriad of visual images. Combining contemporary short fiction and hypermedia storytelling forms creates a new hybrid, a lo-fi web collage cabinet of curiosities.
CityFish was presented in Beta at Archive & Innovate, The 4th International Conference & Festival of the Electronic Literature Organization, at Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, June 3-6, 2010, and was presented as a work-in-progress at Interventions: Literary Practice at the Edge: A Gathering at The Banff Centre, in Banff, Alberta, Canada, February 18, 2010. The Coney Island videos were shot on location in 2005 and edited during the “Babel Babble Rabble: On Language and Art” thematic residency at The Banff Centre in 2006. A very, very, very early web-based version of CityFish was presented in an exhibition called IßWAS, at the Bavarian American Hotel in Nuremberg, Germany, July 1998. That version incorporated photographs shot on 35mm film in Chinatown, Toronto, circa 1996, a line drawing made around the same time, and a very short story of the same name written in 1995 from the first-person point of view of a fish.
CityFish is a work of fiction, the fish and I swear. Any resemblance to any mothers, uncles, aunts or cousins anywhere may be attributed to the common craziness of all families everywhere.