Reiner Strasser and Alan Sondheim


As this poem of less than twenty words runs its course, video of zooming down a road explodes across the screen accompanied by the music of passing wind. Tao is a momentary experience that attains a meditative pace very unusual in computing and in modern life, while at the same time evoking the reality of violence.

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Author description: Tao is an interactive cinematographic Flash piece, created in collaboration between Alan Sondheim and Reiner Strasser. Two short videos (38 seconds) by Alan Sondheim run in parallel. A red line, moving from left to right under the movies like a common digital movie interface, unveils a poem. The user interactivity is minimized to a horizontal mirror function for the two movies, influencing the aesthetics and metaphorical meaning of the movement, and a restart button generating a repetition, a loop interrupted by a rewind time-lapse photographical effect. The sound by Alan Sondheim is modified shakuhachi. Tao scrapes by in perfect wind, following and leading: does the wind make the flags flutter, does the flutter make the wind? In the distance, Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake. From one side to the other as the mirror functions, where was the vehicle, where was it going? "Sincerity is the way of Heaven." (Mencius)

Instructions: To hear the sound, turn on the computer's speakers or plug in headphones. Click on the >|< symbols under the videos to flip them. The red triangle can be clicked upon, after the piece plays, to restart Tao.

Previous publication: Tao was published by Strasser and Sondheim at http://nonfinito.de/tao in January 2004.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

This Flash work has been emulated with Conifer by the Electronic Literature Lab in January 2021. To view this emulation click here.