Category: 05) A Perfect Future Unread

Produced collaboratively by John Cayley (text), Douglas Cape (photography and Hypertext Markup Language), and Giles Perring (sound), “What We Will” (2004) allows its audience to manipulate digitally-rendered photographic panoramas of various scenes in London. In effect, the viewer is placed at a central focal point in each of these scenes, experientially looking outward from within. What is actually seen from this perspective is the source of the work’s tension. Despite a seemingly faithful photorealism, it becomes uncertain whether one is moving closer to narrative coherence or further away from it. This uncertainty is compounded more through the narration itself, which is depicted entirely in the future perfect tense; everything in the story will have happened. This essay considers the role of language and the literal in “What We Will,” and finds within it a broader comment on the role of language in the digital medium.


David Ciccoricco is a lecturer in English at the University of Otago in New Zealand. His interests and studies include contemporary narrative fiction, the convergence of digital technology and literary texts, and studies in digital fiction, poetry, art, and culture in post-humanist discourse. He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds . He is also an associate editor of electronic book review and an invited scholar of Digital Fiction International Network.

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