The Gallery may be unlike any work you've ever encountered. Though it began with a work of text, in this case a book of poems, The Gallery is in many respects a work in its own right.
Reiter describes it as 'literary multimedia', a hybrid form in which text still plays a central role. While text is nothing new in multimedia, it often plays a subordinate or at best a functional role to the more glamorous visual and auditory media. Text may be fragmented or visually manipulated, but it seldom takes centre stage.
But text is the starting point for the 110 multimedia events you will experience in The Gallery. It provides you with a frame of reference in each "gallery", sounding themes, recalling previous visits, encouraging you to add your own voice to what you see and hear. More than that, it shows how good writing can take its rightful place with other media to provide an enjoyable as well as challenging experience.
One of the most intriguing things about the work is that Reiter compiled all the source material and put it together in its final integrated form. He took the video and photographs in Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Paris, Canada and Australia and recorded the sound. He did the editing of the elements using Premiere (video), SoundEdit 16 (sound), and Photoshop, as well as designing and laying out the work in PageMaker before publishing it in Adobe Acrobat.
He did rely on feedback from other artists at the Banff Centre about the final shape of the work, particularly its interactive elements. And the staff of the Centre also helped with the testing of the finished work to ensure the CD-ROM would play on most computers.
But the lesson for other artists in The Gallery is that, despite all the advances in technology, it is still possible for a person to compose multimedia without spending a fortune. Those writers who have limited skills in multimedia should not ignore the promise offered by the New Media; they should form creative teams with other artists, including digital designers, to see how they can adapt their work.
They may be pleasantly surprised by the work that emerges from such collaborations, and how their own work benefits from exposure to the ideas and expressions of other artists.
If you have any doubts about how "serious" writing can survive and even prosper in these new environments, you owe it to yourself to have a good look at The Gallery. It may be the first of its kind, but it certainly won't be the last!
In March, 1891, Paul Gauguin set sail for Tahiti, leaving behind his beloved wife Mette, as well as his haunted memories of Vincent Van Gogh. Years later, the British journalist Ronald Symes began a soujourn in the Cook Islands. Gauguin's exile in Tahiti gave rise to many impassioned letters to Mette, while Symes' led him to write The Lagoon is Lonely Now, a romantic view of life in the tropics.
Multi-award winning author David P Reiter ventures beyond their words in this multimedia tour de force that fuses impulse and reflection, fact and conjecture, teasing out emotions too hot to touch, leaving you to wonder where the places we share give way to the islands of the mind.
The Gallery is a multimedia, interactive CD with a difference. Rather than a visual or auditory pyrotechnic in which good writing takes a back seat, the literary quality of the work is its reason for being. It is based on Reiter's fifth book of poems, Letters We Never Sent, which was released previously by Interactive Press. The Gallery forges into uncharted creative territory, escaping the restrictions of moving from page to page, counterpointing past and present, real and imagined, resulting in a fascinating aesthetic experience that will prompt you to return to the work again and again.
Comprising 110 galleries, the work invites you to navigate at will, following themes that interest you. An infinite number of readings are possible as you listen to voices or view video clips and graphics that are as challenging as the more sophisticated computer game.
IP Digital is grateful for the support of Arts Queensland in the publication of The Gallery as well as the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, where it was completed during the author's Leighton Studio Residency.
Best known for his five collections of poetry, David P Reiter also writes fiction and scripts. Holding a doctorate in Creative Writing, he is also an accomplished photojournalist, whose features have been published in The Australian and The Courier-Mail and many magazines here and overseas.
His interest in performance, film and digital design led to the creation of The Gallery, which he sees as a model for future collaborations between creative writers and artists in the New Media. At present he's working on a new work entitled The Planets, which will blend science with various artforms and will be multimedia from the composing stage on.