John Colette 1 Jan 1994

30 words for the city

30 Words for the City is an ambitious attempt to put sound and vision together in the form of an interactive book. The opening screen for John Colette’s new CD-ROM contains rows of thumbnail images, each depicting an element of urban life.

As far as interactivity goes, 30 Words for the City is a relatively one-way experience. The power to select a word is little more than that allowed a reader to open a book. Yet, Colette’s intention is certainly to provide space for the reader: the sequences of words are deliberately abstract and designed to trigger personal memories. We have here testimony to Colette’s belief in the possibility of a personal consciousness within the city. The city not as abstract machine inhabited by automatons, but as a imaginary space for collating a sense of self. This CD-ROM, therefore is a kind of multimedia haiku where elements of urban life--Telephone, Aeroplane, Building Bilboard, Subway, Apartment--are offered in fragmentary form in order to tease out the nascent poetry inside us harried urban dwellers.