From 28-31 October 2018, the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL) participated in the University of Victoria’s FrankenWeek, which celebrated the 200thanniversary of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. FrankenWeekwas part of the international Frankenreadsinitiative organized by the Keats-Shelley Association of America and supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Inspired by Bloomsday celebrations of James Joyce’s Ulysses,Frankenreadsencouraged people around the world to organize or participate in events celebrating Frankenstein’s bicentennial. The University of Victoria was excited to be one of nearly 700 partners worldwide!
FrankenWeekwas led by ETCL Graduate Research Assistant and English Ph.D. Candidate Lindsey Seatter. Together with a team of librarians, students, faculty, and academic staff, Seatter organized a diverse, interdisciplinary event series celebrating the history, text, themes, and performance of Frankenstein.FrankenWeekincluded a scholarly panel, an exhibit featuring items from the university’s Special Collections, nine film screenings, two digital scholarship workshops, and Frankenreads LIVE! — an interactive booth in the foyer of McPherson Library on 31 October where students could listen to the live reading of the novel taking place at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
The ETCL sponsored the Frankenreads LIVE! event and members of our team worked on creating an exhibit item for the booth. Postdoctoral Fellow Luis Meneses, Visiting Graduate Researcher Jon Martin, and Undergraduate Research Assistant Derek Siemens worked together to design, assemble, and animate two life-size Frankenstein’s Creature heads in an installation they titled “careless in the abyss”. “careless in the abyss” responded to the scene in Shelley’s novel where The Creature requests that Victor Frankenstein makes them a mate in order to satisfy their desire for companionship:
“I am alone and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects. This being you must create.” (Ch. 16)
“careless in the abyss” captured this sense of longing in a humorous, satirical, yet, touching manner. When the Frankenstein’s Creature heads were in close to proximity to each other, they were silent; when they were pulled apart, George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” was triggered and played through a set of speakers. The Frankenstein’s Creature heads were printed using a MakerBot Replicator (5th generation) with PLA filament and animated using Arduino. Further technical specifications can be found below:
Processing 3.4 Microsoft Kinect – Model 1520
Open Kinect for Processing 1.0
Frankenreads LIVE!was a great success. Many students came by the booth to observe the 3D printing, listen to the live reading, and to interact with “careless in the abyss”. Several students remarked on how cool it was to see 3D printed objects in person and one individual said it “made their day” to experience this type of innovation firsthand. Overall, FrankenWeekwas a great tribute to Shelley, her novel, and Frankenstein’s cultural legacy!