Daniel C. Howe and Aya Karpinska


What if poems were composed not of lines and stanzas but of cubes within cubes, or voices layered over voices? Howe and Karpinska's open.ended tantalizingly suggests some of the possibilities of multimedia poetry operating in three dimensions.

To Begin ...

Java Applet suitable for all computers.

Full-Screen recommended for newer computers only.

Author description: open.ended is an interactive three-dimensional poem experienced through the interplay of shifting geometric surfaces. Verses appear on the faces of separate translucent cubes nested within one another. The reader manipulates a mouse, joystick, or touch-screen to bring stanzas on different surfaces into view. As cubes, faces, and layers are revealed, dynamically updating lines of text move in and out of focus. The structure of the poem facilitates a multiplicity of readings: from single verses on cube faces, to sequential verses across faces, to juxtapositions of verses across multiple cubes. Meaning is constructed actively through collaboration between reader, author, and mediated work. An audio track of the authors' layered voices extends the experience, enveloping the reader in the atmosphere of the poem, organically complementing the visual and tactile components of the work.

Instructions: To hear the sound, turn on the computer's speakers or plug in headphones. Click in the cubes and drag to control their movement. Initially, when the inner and outer cubes are set to "free," they are in constant motion. When the two cubes align, new parts of the poem appear. Double-click anywhere on the screen to toggle between aligning the cubes and setting them in free motion.

Previous publication: open.ended was published by the authors in 2004 and can be found on the web at Karpinska's site Beginning in September 2004, open.ended was exhibited at Compact-Impact in New York City.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.