"ScruTiny in the Great Round"
by Tennessee Rice Dixon & Jim Gasperini
Music and Sounds by Charlie Morrow
CD-ROM, $ 39.95
ScruTiny in the Great Round was awarded the MILIA d'Or Grand Prix, one
of the most prestigious awards of the multimedia industry, at this
year's International Publishing and New Media Market Conference (MILIA)
in Cannes. Last year's grand prize went to the popular multimedia game
MYST, and "ScruTiny" is not only MYSTerious enough to be a more than
worthy successor for the Grand Prix--it takes the meaning of
interactivity in multimedia art to new levels.
"ScruTiny" is the CD-ROM incarnation of a book of collage art created by
New York artist Tennessee Rice Dixon, which was "translated" into its
new medium in a collaborative effort by Dixon and multimedia artist Jim
Gasperini, with composer Charlie Morrow contributing the music and
sounds. "ScruTiny" isn't a narrative in any conventional sense--Calliope
President Robert Winter describes it as an "interactive dream"--however,
the composition of collages consisting of morphing images, animated
sequences and 3-D elements tells a powerful story.
"Scrutiny" is a mythic, archetypal rendition of the cycles of life that
seems to spring 'unfiltered' from the unconscious mind. The interface
design permits intuitive access to the 'spirit' of the art: you access
"ScruTiny" by entering dark woods. The basic structure is formed by a
variety of scenes, each of them a piece of collage art. In the center of
each scene the cursor takes the form of a sun or a moon, both of which
exist in two forms, a bright active and a dark inactive; when the cursor
is bright, clicking will initiate a sequence. Users may thus explore the
CD-ROM on a sun or a moon level; either choice provides scenes on a
specific theme reflecting a sun or a moon perspective. Depending on the
level you choose, the cursor will take the form of a bird (sun level) or
a fish (moon level) on the left and right side of the screen, and
clicking will bring you to the next or previous scene within the sun or
Spiritual, gothic and mysterious, "ScruTiny" journeys into the symbolic
realms of Romance, Pregnancy, Nesting, Recollection, Confrontation et
al., and all of these realms have their incarnation on the sun and the
moon level. It wouldn't do "ScruTiny" any justice to classify the
sun/moon level in terms of a male/female dichotomy; both levels offer a
different take on their subject--the moon level certainly has a darker
and even more dreamy feel to it--and it is always fascinating to compare
the sun and moon version of a specific subject.
The CD-ROM is indeed, as Dixon puts it, "scrutinizing in the great round
of life": the morphing images suggest seasons passing and cycles of
death and birth, blending various symbols from Greek and Egyptian
mythology and Buddhist religion, such as fertility symbols or mandalas.
Some images are combined with texts, for example, a reading from the
Bhagavad-Gita proclaiming the deathlessness of the spirit. "ScruTiny"
manages to strike a remarkable balance: although there is an openness
and randomness to the 'perpetual motion' of its sequences, the
underlying metaphors manage to create a feeling of unity. Certain
symbols and images, for example, horses and sea-horses, appear in
different scenes and realms, thus defying any simple symbolic
categorization and unifying ambiguous concepts. "ScruTiny" itself seems
to become a kind of digital mandala: an instrument of meditation that
visualizes a succession of perfected realms in the great wheel of life.