Family Tree

Family Tree

Family Tree / Stamboom is a deceptively simple word-toy that overturns several of our familiar metaphors for the way we discuss time, genealogy, even the individual's relationship to the nation-state by rendering one's "roots" as swaying in space, subject to forces of destabilization and recombination, and anchored by a single point at its very top rather than the several points below. At times totally abstract, although the words "mother" and "father" are littered throughout, and at others pointillistically narrative, Family Tree quivers on the screen like an Andrew Calder mobile linked by vertical punctuation, and realizes Swiss Concrete poet Eugen Gomringer's concept of the word "constellation" in an elegant and relaxing fashion.


Author description: The digital project Family Tree is conceived as a mobile responding to two forces: wind and gravity. The reader/listener conjures these at will by moving the mouse: left and right to create movement through wind in the horizontal plane, and up and down to apply the force of gravity and create a vertical movement along the family tree. In this way, the reader/listener shapes the reading experience, causing the text to move and rearrange itself on the digital page. Family Tree can be regarded as an exercise of memory, investigating stories told and our ever-changing recollection of them, as well as a path towards some kind of source DNA: stories mix, converse and change, as people from different places and times are faced with each other. This imaginary space is flexible and open to new possibilities.

Instructions: Family Tree is the English version of the work. Stamboom is the Dutch version of the work. Click on the BEGIN button to select the English or Dutch version. The work runs as a Flash Projector file.

Previous publication/additional credits: The work is a visual interpretation of the poem Stamboom (Geluksbrenger, Querido, Amsterdam, 2009). Family Tree was translated from Dutch into English by Ko Kooman. The poem Stamboom (Family Tree) is part of in Rozalie Hirs's fourth poetry book Geluksbrenger (2008), published by Querido, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; its translations into German, English and French appeared in the following magazines and collections: Stammbaum (D, translation Rozalie Hirs) in Bohrmaschine (2005), Akademie der Künste Berlin, Germany; Family Tree (E, translation Ko Kooman) in Versal VI (2006), Wordsinhere, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Arbre Généalogique (FR, translation Henri Deluy) in Action Poétique 198 (2009), Paris, France. For Geluksbrenger Hirs received grants from the Flemish Literature Fund in 2004, 2006, and 2007; the digital application Family Tree was made in 2006 with financial support of the Dutch Foundation for Literature; the application was translated into English for Poetry International, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, June 2009. The digital application Family Tree incorporates the electroacoustic composition 'for morton feldman' (2002) by Rozalie Hirs.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

The Electronic Literature Lab could not preserve this Flash work with Ruffle in February 2021. We do plan to preserve it with Conifer at a later date.