Each ending in a choice

Ronnie Clarke, Soundscape, 2020, web-based artwork, Courtesy of the Artist

Each ending in a choice
David Clark, Ronnie Clarke, Elizabeth LaPensée, the Oshkii Giizhik Singers and Sharon M. Day, Amanda Low, Emily Short, Kara Stone

Online Exhibition
27 January to 23 April 2023
Game Night: 10 March @ 7:00 pm
Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University

Curator: Rachel Thornton

Life is not a continuous line from the cradle to the grave. Rather, it is many short lines, each ending in a choice, and branching right and left to other choices.
—Doris Webster and Mary Alden Hopkins, Consider the Consequences!

First published in 1930, Consider the Consequences! is one of the earliest known gamebooks. Written by Doris Webster and Mary Alden Hopkins, this interactive novel presents the beginning of a story and then asks you, the reader, to make choices on behalf of its three protagonists. Works of interactive fiction like Consider the Consequences! and the popular Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks of the 1970s were precursors to computer-based interactive fiction, hypertext electronic literature, hypermedia works, and video games. In both print and online interactive works, you—the user, viewer, or player—become the “interactor,” choosing your own path through linking elements, if-then statements, conditional loops, and threaded conversation trees to create evolving, non-linear narratives.

The online exhibition Each ending in a choice explores how embodied experiences are created through interactive, non-linear storytelling. With each click, keystroke, swipe, or choice, you are taken deeper into webs of poetic hypertext, interactive narratives, and games. Emily Short’s interactive fiction Galatea (2000) revolves around a conversation with Galatea, a complex NPC (non-playable character) who keeps track of your exchanges and reacts depending on your interactions with her. Amanda Low’s ETERNALLYMOVING.COM (2017) personifies a website as a means of exploring the concept of “link rot,” which occurs when hyperlinks cease to point to their originally intended webpage, file, or server, and users are rerouted to a 404-error page. Ronnie Clarke’s Soundscapes (2020) begins with a choice and branches out from there to create an interactive digital space for dreaming, meditating, and moving while filling the steady background noise of isolation. Created by Anishinaabeg water carriers Sharon M. Day, Lyz Jaakola, Margaret Noodin, and Elizabeth LaPensée, Honour Water (2016) raises awareness about threats to water and offers pathways to healing through songs, art, and code in the form of a game. Kara Stone’s found-footage game Parts to Remember (2014) explores how somatic memories are stored and experienced within the body. David Clark’s interactive work The End: Death in Seven Colours (2015) weaves together a labyrinth of conspiracy theories, real events, and fragmentary stories of the death of historical figures, including Alan Turing, Sigmund Freud, Princess Diana, Jim Morrison, Judy Garland, Walter Benjamin, and Marcel Duchamp.

Each of the works presented in Each ending in a choice put you at the beginning of a narrative and then let you decide where to go next. Serving as a means to re-examine and expand our understanding of both the digital and physical world, these works create personal, intimate interactions where we interact, touch, and converse with code. As in “real life,” there is no winning or losing and no linear paths. Rather, there are many short lines, each ending in a choice.

We would like to acknowledge that the Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University, is located within the traditional territory of Mi’kma’ki, the unceded ancestral homelands of the Mi’kmaq. Our relationship and our privilege to live on this territory was agreed upon in the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1725 to 1752. Because of this treaty relationship, it is to be acknowledged that we are all Treaty People and have a responsibility to respect this territory.

Owens Art Gallery
Mount Allison University
61 York Street Sackville, NB, E4L 1E1 • 506-364-2574
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Monday to Friday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Admission is Free
Masks are mandatory.

The Owens is partially accessible. The stairs from the entrance nearest the University Chapel have a handrail. There is also ramp access at this entrance, however, the ramp is steep. The stairs to the entrance off York Street have a handrail, but no ramp, and are covered with temporary wood treads. The main floor of the Owens is wheelchair accessible. Our second-floor gallery and gendered bathrooms are located in the basement and are not accessible. Two flights of stairs lead to each of these floors. LED lights are used throughout the building. The Owens welcomes guide dogs and other service animals. The closest accessible parking spaces are located on York Street across from the Owens. For detailed information on construction disruption please visit our Accessibility page.

If you have any questions about your visit, please email owens@mta.ca or call (506) 364-2574.