Study Series: Nick Montfort’s “Taroko Gorge”

“Taroko Gorge” was a sort of gateway for me in my studies, in fact it was Nick Monfort’s style (like most of the Memory Slam reimplementations, Taroko Gorge was done with Python) that gave me a push to learn how to code with Python. The poem is generative and the way the words flow into the screen is reminiscent of flowing water. The never ending poem creates images of nature, the forest, the river, images that because of their random generation all seem similar yet never will you read the same statement twice; much like the river that flows seemingly forever.

The poem also set a form in the electronic literature community, having several “remixes” made based on its style and code. I myself have seen several fellow students make their first piece of e-lit be a “Taroko Gorge Remix.” In his book, Electronic Literature, Scott Rettberg talks about the form set by Montfort’s poem, and how the simple code lends itself easily to artistic variation (pg 47-50). Bringing this into conversation with the three generations of e-lit, the second generation is into creating from scratch, new and unused programs and structures, whereas it is a third generation thing to take a known and developed structure or platform and use it to create.

Leave a Comment