January 19, 2005

Donna Leishman’s Possession

by Nick Montfort · , 7:28 pm

As Jill pointed out not too long ago, Donna Leishman recently completed a practice-based PhD program, developing The Possession of Christian Shaw as part of that work. Her dissertation, “Creating Screen-Based Multiple State Environments: Investigating Systems of Confutation,” is now online, too. Visually, interactively, and in terms of its relationship to a grim tale, her new artwork shares some some of the features of Donna’s earlier The Bloody Chamber and Red Riding Hood, building upon the idiom of those pieces in strange and elaborate ways. In a change from the previous peices, the grim tale of Possession is not from a fabular tradition, as will be explained at the end to the assiduous interactor.


Noah and I were, along with Jill and several others, “expert readers” who offered some writing about the piece via email. While I enjoyed getting a sneak peek at Possession, I didn’t exactly know what our role was supposed to be – I guess I assumed at first that we’d be experiencing a work in progress, which Donna would revise or tune based on feedback. That wasn’t the case, it seems. Since I misunderstood my role, I’m not sure that my comments were of much use. I’m glad to see that Donna managed to pioneer a PhD involving creative work, though, and it’s good to see her latest work joining the other outcomes of her artistic practice online. She has developed a distinctive visual and interactive style. I mentioned in my comments to Donna that some of the “global” qualities of the piece didn’t seem to work, from my perspective. Nevertheless, her latest piece has a gripping, distorted texture that works very well locally, and visual and interface design that work well together. It’s well worth a visit.

I think Noah has been busy of late, but I hope he will chime in about his experiences with Donna’s latest work, when he gets the chance…