The first experimental Cave Writing Workshop was launched by Professor Robert Coover in the spring of 2002 with the stated objectives of introducing text (both visual and audio), positional sound, and narrative movement into this largely visual, silent, and spatial environment. A series of finger exercises led to the first successful “text-in-space” piece, designed by visual artist and writer Vesper Stockwell and developed by programmer Bryant Choung: a cube afloat in outer space with text mapped backwards on it, such that the user was required to enter the cube to read the text. Sound files and further objects were created in an imaginative work that is still being elaborated.

Nearly a dozen other projects were begun that first semester by Stockwell, Choung, Adam Berninger, Edwin Chang, Andrew Freeman, Shawn Greenlee, Michelle Higa, Andrew McClain, Noah Norman, Jason Sobel, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, and Nicole Wee, several of which remain in development. One of them led, via a UTRA grant in the summer of 2002, to the first project that successfully fulfilled all three original objectives, Vesper Stockwell’s “This Is Just a Place,” an interpretation of a poem by A. R. Ammons, a work involving the collaboration of programmers Dmitri Lemmerman and Choung, modeler Chang, and sound engineers Greenlee and Norman.

The second Cave Writing Workshop in the fall of 2002 saw the further development of these projects and the launching of new ones by Joshua Carroll, Yew Leong Lee, Talan Memmott, Joe Winter, Jeb Havens, and Will Heublein, as well as veterans Chang, Choung, Greenlee, Higa, Lemmerman, McClain, Norman, and Wardrip-Fruin.

Another project begun in 2002 emerged from Andrew McClain’s experiments with text-peeling and text-flocking. Further developed in collaboration with Wardrip-Fruin, Greenlee, and Carroll, this piece became the acclaimed “Screen,” a highly unusual Cave experience, totally text-based, one that was presented by Carroll to SIGGRAPH in the summer of 2003.

Carroll, Chang, Choung, Higa, and Norman obtained a group UTRA grant in the spring of 2003 to continue work on projects already under way, and as a climax to this effort, both “This Is Just a Place” and “Screen,” along with the still-in-progress “Hypertable” and “City of Words,” were presented to the public during the 2003 Boston Cyberarts Festival, together with two of computer science graduate student Dan Keefe’s “Cave Painting” projects.

“Hypertable” and “City of Words” are still “in progress” and, along with more than a half dozen other incomplete works, are open to further development by future workshoppers.

The third Cave Writing Workshop will be held this autumn on Wednesdays during the N Hour, 3-5:20 p.m. It is open to students at all levels from all disciplines, but requires evidence of writing and technical skills adequate to work in the Cave. Requests for admission should be made directly to Professor Coover. In addition to the Cave Writing Workshop, Professor Coover will be teaching a creative writing workshop in experimental mixed-media narrative, “Texts in Space,” that will include the designing of textual works for the Cave. The fourth Cave Writing Workshop will be team-taught in the spring of 2004 by visiting artist John Cayley and veteran Caver Talan Memmott.

Brown University Creative Writing | Electronic Writing
Brown University Computer Graphics Group