2000 trAce / Alt-X New Media Writing Award
for Lexia to Perplexia
Judges Comments: Shelley Jackson
... The wide black screen of Talan Memmott's stunning, difficult Lexia to Perplexia is a kind of theater in which luminous symbols and sentences (which look more like formulae) come and go. At times the lucid graphic icons are more readable than the layered scrims of text. Is this still writing?

Certainly, the reader's first pleasure will probably be a visual one. This is a gorgeous piece. But the visuals though beautiful are not only decorative but syntactical. Some of Memmott's most elegant arguments are made visually, through the logic of layout and the grammar of the link. While in much new media writing it is possible to consider the design and the "content" separately (sadly, it is usually the content that comes up short), this piece calls such distinctions into question. It is impossible to decide where design ends and the text proper begins. This improper text is as much made up of buried coding and spatial logic as it is of ordinary English words. In fact such words as it contains are neither ordinary nor exactly English anymore. A new media writer has to be good at writing code as well as sentences. Reflecting on this, Memmott borrows as much from the conventions of html code as from the not much less difficult codes of Deleuzian theory, metamorphosing them into a jammed, fractured diction full of slashes, dots and brackets. There is a purpose to this besides play, since the piece is about the code-mediated relationship between the reader, the (electronic) text, and the author. This sounds like postmodern critical theory, and it is, but one could also call it fiction, because it not only analyzes but dramatizes a relationship. However, since it involves the reader in creating that very relationship, it is maybe not so much a fiction as a fact: a performance or even a happening, in the theatrical sense. What you-the-reader do IS the text.

honorable mention
2001 Electronic Literature Organization Award (fiction)
for Lexia to Perplexia
Judges Comments: Larry McCaffery
Because of the high quality of all six works, I would also like to cite two additional pieces for honorable mention: Talan Memmott's absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, mystifying, cryptifictional hyper-assemblage, Lexia to Perplexia, which I found notable not only for the eloquence and innovations of its design but for its success in creating new forms of user-interactivity; and Shelley Jackson's wondrously written and perfectly conceived match of form and content, Patchwork Girl, which despite its ripe old age (of 7 years) and somewhat cumbersome reliance on Storyspace software, was still more than able to hold its own among more technologically advanced works in terms of the freshness of the writing and the conceptual brilliance of its design.