Saturday, March 25, 2006

Virtual houses disappear like fever dreams

I had a virtual house once. It was a website I tinkered with as an alternative version of my original Home Page. The visitor was met with images instead of text and invited to explore the various rooms of a "house" into which I had placed installations of visual, aural and text messages and prose pieces.

The first page of the site invited the visitor to switch on the computer's speakers and showed a picture of a clock with several "ticking" marquees that said "If you can hear the ticking of the clock you are ready to enter". A WAV file played a continuous ticking-clock sound in the background.

On entering, the visitor was met by a breeze-block house with doors and windows. Beside it stood an animated black kid with a ghetto blaster and, if I remember rightly, at least one penguin swaying to the beat of the music that blasted out. You were left to your own imagination as to what to do next.

If you clicked on the front door, you "entered" the dark hallway, which was made up of white line drawing on black. The stairs were to the left, with another interior door straight ahead and a couple of framed pieces hanging on the walls. Each major item linked to a minor piece of writing or some poetic prose. In each case you could Exit and return to the hallway, or Exit entirely and revisit the house exterior.

You might also choose to enter the house via a window (people do, after all). One entry point led to the bathroom, via the sound of smashing glass and a collage of virtual bathroomware including a dripping tap that I just should have tried to fix some time...

I had planned to include secret doorways and (naturally) to make the interior of the house much bigger than the outer dimensions suggested.

One of the installations was a piece about a childhood fever. I remember the delerium and the pounding of the fever through my veins and the page was set up to mirror this with a continual background of unwholesome-looking red bubbles and a repeating chorus from my childhood fevered mind going through the text of:

"HR Puffinstuff
Who's your friend
When things get tough?"

Italics emphasised different parts of the chorus as the fever, accompanied by a WAV file heartbeat, carried on down through the piece.

There were other rooms in the unfinished house, including one that mentioned a bus-ride on the number 47 and the then smoking-area upstairs.

The whole lot was left to stew while I went on to other online projects. In the end, the Webspace service provider went kablooey, followed by my hard drive, and the whole lot was lost. I've tried looking for cached versions of the pages in Google without success. There is a minute chance I have some pieces on some ancient floppy disks someplace, but I don't hold out much hope for finding them.

I might begin to rebuild that house of fun again some day. If so, I hope you'll make a visit behind its strange doors.


Angharod said...

Gawd...I vaguely remember seeing it Willie, but what a long time ago that was. *S*

Willie_W said...

Quite a while back, yes. I must look through some diskettes on the off-chance it was ever backed up.