Luna Cycle

Photo credit Noah Pivnick

An audience of two negotiate a shared narrative of estrangement that can only be read together, concurrently, or not at all.


Luna Cycle is the continuation of an investigation of tangible interfaces for reading electronic literature begun during my first semester at ITP. I came to ITP eager to explore what a tangible interface for digital non-linear narrative might look and – perhaps more importantly – feel like; an interface that incorporates meaningful, human interaction and conveys a sense of narrative progression and navigation without resorting to progress bars and explicit choice-making.

Two users sit across a table from one another. Built into the table’s surface are spinning plates beckoning to be touched. Only when both plates are spinning in unison is the text revealed, reflected off either side of a transparent display and shifting one’s focus between the individual on the other side of the frame and text that floats like gossamer woven from lime green light, suspended in space just beyond their gaze.


The story begins with a description of a large ornate moon moth (Actius Luna) drawn to lamp light and perched on a picture frame window not unlike the one suspended from above, and proceeds with a sequence of micro-vignettes depicting shared moments in time from two opposing perspectives. It’s the story of a relationship in decay, told using cycles of repetition rewritten by shifts in tone, at first euphoric, then complacent, then resigned.

As in any relationship stuck in a loop, the experience only ends when someone decides to step away, thereby abandoning their partner for whom the text cannot be accessed alone. Luna Cycle is an experiment in embodied reading and challenges the notion that storyworlds need be galactic in scale in order to be immersive, proposing instead that a text may be inhabited by two people, who may or may not be known to one another, sharing a common physical interface and the strange intimacy of alternately reading and watching one another read.