Prairie Chants

M.D. Coverley

Prairie Chants is part of a series of (hyper)videos that comprise the Legends of Michigami project. The videos map the routes of trains along the shores of Lake Michigan and into Chicago. These works trace a drama of the western Great Lakes – stories revealed in the changing landscape. The persistent motion of the train is metaphoric for time passing whether we want it so or not – for the way human beings (in the name of progress or circumstance) are swept up in inevitable social and economic shifts.

as if nothing that we had done — or given or given up — had contributed to America.” Chief Pokagon, Potawatomi

Prairie Chants is a story of the prairie – and the native tribes who once lived there – it unfolds in the past, the present, and the future…. The tribal narrative happens to follow the historic movement of the Sauk or Sac (officially Sauk and Fox) but it could be that of any one of many eastern woodland people, indeed hundreds of groups across the country, who were forced from their homes, had their land taken by trickery or force, and walked their own trail of tears into captivity.

Prairie Chants continues my experiments with narrative structure – the layering of time and space, the merging of history with private events, the juxtaposition of place and memory. The temporal gaps and the imaginative space of the in-between invite the reader to enter into the visual space and complete the world. But it also involves some new directions and experiments with storytelling modes, some specific aesthetic and technical choices.

The rapid turnover of software has changed the nature of e-lit production. On the one hand, affiliation with large universities or labs with extensive resources can afford practitioners with cutting-edge technology. Conversely, the “cottage-industry” artist, working at home [once a staple of emerging e-lit work], moves, more and more, into the use of mass-produced, widely available tools. Prairie Chants is made from smart phone videos and images, off-the-shelf editing tools for video, image, and sound, and recycled and re-edited audio tracks. It is published with Vimeo.

About the Artist

Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink writes hypermedia fiction as M.D. Coverley. Her full-length interactive, electronic novel, Califia, is available on CD-ROM from Eastgate Systems. Her other long-narrative work, Egypt: The Book of Going Forth by Day was published in 2006. Copies can be ordered on her Website.

Luesebrink was initially involved with print writing, publishing short stories and feature articles. After completing a degree in English, she attended UC Irvine for an MFA. She started working with computers in the early 1980’s and began writing fiction for in-hand media and the WWW in 1995.

She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Organization.