I found that my approach to “Cruising” changed through repeated viewings. At first, I simply listened to the spoken words and ignored the images and music. I did this to establish some narrative coherence in my brain. The words themselves are quite linear, as they describe a fairly common scene in some detail that eventually leads to a broader conclusion about the significance of the event. (i.e. a fairly standard use of inductive reasoning.) Once I determined the purpose and message of the narrative, I started to play with the images. With some practice, I was able to align the text on the screen with the spoken words. Although this created a satisfying sense of accomplishment, I can’t say that any greater understanding was achieved. However, once I played the scrolling text faster or slower than the spoken word, the experience was more interesting. As well, I played the scrolling text backwards at different speeds, which created a very strange effect. Watching the backward text, particularly at a faster speed, made me focus on certain words: lipstick, love, pickup, skinny. Although I would consciously try to find different words, the same ones would always “grab” my eye.
I found that after a slow pass with the pictures, I tended to ignore their specific details. Although the individual images were certainly appropriate to the piece, their effect on the viewer seemed related more to the speed of their passage. It was fun to play with the combination of the size and speed of the images, as the closer one looked, the faster the images passed. This has an obvious metaphorical meaning to the piece. (i.e. the deeper one looks for meaning, the harder it is to find). There are obviously other implied meanings related to the passage of time and how young people view the progression of their lives and the future.
I’m not sure this piece could be described as non-linear. Aarseth describes a non-linear text as one where the words or sequence of words differ from reading to reading. In this case, although one could vary the speed, size, and direction of the printed text, there was always the recurring voice-over that kept the narrative moving forward. Manipulation of the printed text and images certainly suggested new associations that may not have been obvious from the initial reading (I am still wondering why my brain repeatedly fixed itself on certain words in the backwards viewing) and these associations could clearly create poetic meaning beyond the literal, but I found my interpretations always seeking their way back to the linear narrative.
Multi-linear might be a better way to describe this piece. I visualize this type of narrative as a single stream moving forward that then has various branches of meaning splaying and straying outward. These branches could split into further branches, could loop back on themselves, could intersect with other branches, but they always find their way back to the main stream.