"In the works of Mez (Maryanne Breeze), she creates works written in what N. Katherine Hayles has called a creole of computer and human languages. Mez, and other codework authors, display the data layer on the presentation layer. One critical response is to point out that as an information system, the presentation layer are the lines of code and the rest of the system is whatever medium is displaying her poem. However, such an approach missed the very complexity of Mez's work. Indeed, Mez's work is often traditional static text that puts users in the role of the processor...

Consider her short codework "_trEm[d]o[lls]r_" published on her site and on the Critical Code Studies blog. It is a program that seems to describe (or self-define) the birth pangs of a new world. The work, written in what appears to be XML, cannot function by itself. It appears to assign a value to a variable named "doll_tre[ru]mor[s]", a Mez-ian (Mezozoic?) portmenteau of doll_tremors and rumors. This particular rumor being defined is called, the fifth world, which calls up images of the Native American belief in a the perfected world coming to replace our current fourth world. This belief appears most readily in the Hopi tribe of North America. A child of this fifth world are "fractures," or put another way, the tremor of the coming world brings with it fractures. The first, post 2 inscription, contains polymers: a user set to "YourDollUserName," a "3rdperson" set to "Your3rdPerson," a location set to "YourSoddenSelf", and a "spikey" set to "YourSpiKeySelf." The user then becomes a molecule name within the fracture, a component of the fracture. These references to dolls and 3rd person seem to evoke the world of avatars. In virtual worlds, users have dolls.

If the first fracture is located in the avatar of the person, in their avatar, the second centers on communication from this person or user. Here the user is defined with "YourPolyannaUserName," and we are in the world of overreaching optimism, in the face of a "msg" or message of "YourPleading" and a "lastword." Combining these two fractures we have a sodden and spikey self pleading and uttering a last word presumably before the coming rupture into the fifth world.

As with many codeworks, the presentation layer appears to be the data and logic layer. However, there is clearly another logic layer that makes these words appear on whatever interface the reader is using. Thus, the presentation layer is a deception, a challenge to the very division of layers, a revelation that hides. At the same time, we are compelled to execute the presented code by tracing out its logic. We must take the place of the compiler with the understanding that the coding structures are also meant to launch allusive subroutines, that part of our brain that is constantly listening for echoes and whispers.

To produce that reading, we have had to execute that poem, at least step through it, acting as the processor...Where traditional poetry establishes identity through I's, Mez has us identify with a system ready to process the user who is not ready for the fifth world, whatever that may bring. At the same time, universal or even mythical realities have been systematized or simulated. There is another layer of data that is missing, supplied by the user presumably. The poem leaves its tremors in a state of potential, waiting to operate in the context of a larger system and waiting for a user to supply the names, pleading, and last words..."

From "Electronic Literature as an Information System", Juan B. Gutierrez/CAVIIAR (Advanced Research Center in Artificial Intelligence), Mark C. Marino (University of Southern California), Pablo Gervás (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), and Laura Borràs Castanyer (Universidad Oberta de Catalunya),

"...To grasp the difference between ludic and experimental dysfunctionality, let's compare the Shakespeare program discussed...with the use of graphic elements inspired by computer code in Mezangelle, the hybrid language developed by the Australian author Mez:

($gene (x y)


((not? (promise? y))


(set-(h)eart(h)! (var x) y) ;

(set-earth! (var x) ()) ; delete y)

(quoted from Net Behaviourexternal link)

The Shakespeare program tries to hide that it is a piece of computer code, by imitating a dramatic script. Here it is the other way around. The poem tries to pass as computer code, by imitating the syntax of a computer language (it most resembles LISP), and by using special graphic elements, but it cannot be executed: there is no compiler for this pseudo language. The purpose here is not to communicate with the machine, but rather, following a tradition that runs from nineteenth century Symbolism to twentieth century Dadaism, Surrealism, Lettrism, and concrete poetry, to produce a new poetic idiom. The use of parentheses is symptomatic of an ambition to fight the linearity of language by rendering symbols semantically polyvalent: for instance, in the Mez example, " (h)eart(h)." can be read as "heart," "earth" or "hearth." Whether of not these language experiments produce dysfunctionality or a functionality of a higher order depends on how much effort readers are willing to devote to their decoding, and on whether this effort is found worthwhile. Similarly, there are people who find the language of Finnegans Wake highly dysfunctional, and others who admire it as a synthesis of different languages that overcomes the disaster of Babel. (Incidentally, Mezangelle has been widely compared to Finnegans Wake.)"

From _Between Play and Politics: Dysfunctionality in Digital Art_, electronic book review
Marie-Laure Ryan