Chris Ault’s Hot Air is based upon a passage from Jeanette Winterson’s novel, Sexing the Cherry. In this novel, every word spoken by the residents of a village appears and rises into the sky as if it were made from smoke. Eventually, due to the proliferation of jibber jabber obscuring the sky, cleaners take to the skies in balloons to attempt to clean away all the wordage. They fail, however.


In this reimagining of the situation, Chris Ault uses concrete aesthetic formatting to create the appearance of a city, only the buildings are made of the most recent tags taken from a collection of the internet’s most popular websites, including Engadget, Youtube, Perez Hilton, and Del.icio.us. The roads are made of the day’s most popular Google search terms. Finally, reader comments from the aforementioned websites rise into the sky like clouds. Like in Sexing the Cherry, workers attempt to clear the sky of these words, and like in the novel, they are utterly unsuccessful.

Digital Medium:
Very little interactivity is given to the reader. There are no buttons, hyperlinks, or other interactive elements.

Instead, the digital medium is utilized primarily in its potential for animation. The words rise into the sky across the browser and continue to hover around. Similarly, the cleaner moves around and attempts to clean it.

The other way in which the digital medium is utilized is in its acquisition of the terms that populate the screen. These are loaded at the moment the page is accessed, meaning that the piece will be different at each viewing. It changes day to day, moment to moment.

This piece demonstrates the ways in which digital pieces can simultaneously limit reader agency and enhance electronic literature with qualities specific to the digital modality.

The world of the piece is structured according to the ideas that proliferate in mainstream internet culture. How much influence do these ideas wield over our real world?

The reader comments fill the screen and resist attempts at cleaning and erasure. This suggests a permanency of words that exists regardless of medium.

Does the lack of reader interaction capability limit the quality of the piece?
How might major world events/disasters alter this piece’s presentation?