From birdsong to video game music to the ringing sounds of tinnitus, sound is at the core of Tailspin as both theme and structural device. A story of intergenerational conflict unfolds through sound as a woman negotiates between her father, who was "nothing more than an aircraft fitter" during WWII, and her children, who are often absorbed by their games and frightened by his anger at the noise that they make. Metaphorically associating imperfect hearing with imperfect communication, Tailspin is an elegant exploration of the different intensities, waves and frequencies of familial affect.


Author description: An old man's tinnitus and partial deafness is a source of friction between him, his daughter and grandchildren yet he stubbornly refuses to contemplate treatment or hearing aids. Karen, the daughter, has always been hurt and mystified by his angry reactions, but the key to his behavior lies deep in the past. Tailspin is a multi-layered, animated fiction, created in Flash, about the intergenerational friction between an old man suffering from tinnitus and his daughter, whose children play noisy handheld games consoles. Sound mixes and animations, some programmed to play randomly, reflect the auditory and emotional disturbances of the characters around the family meal table. Broken dreams, spoilt playtimes, dysfunctional behaviour, malfunctioning machines and the sounds of alarm are both puzzling and distressing as the past splinters the present.

Instructions: Readers navigate the story by mousing over the spirals. Click on the blue spiral to get to the next level.

Previous publication: Prototype available for downloading in April 2008.

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.