The Tulse Luper Suitcases – a personal history of Uranium by Peter Greenaway

The Tulse Luper Suitcases is a multimedia project by Peter Greenaway, initially intended to comprise three “source” and one feature films, a 16-episode TV series, and 92 DVDs, as well as Web sites, CD-ROMs and books. Once the online Web-based portion of the project was completed: the “winner” having taken a trip following Tulse Luper’s travels (and often imprisonment) during his first writings about the discovery of uranium in Moab, Utah in 1928 to his mysterious disappearance at the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Two books and three feature films were released to supply material to the Flash/Web designers who competed in a contest to make one of the 92 Flash-based “suitcase” games featured on the interactive, online site The Tulse Luper Journey.

This is a great example of a digital archive with a lot of underlying meaning. This story of Tulse Luper’s life, with all his stories and experiences were displayed in 92 suitcases that were scattered all over the world. These suitcases tell a story in themselves.

The image of the suitcases, has a lot of value behind it. In a suitcase everything is compartmentalized. We do this with the way we think, and even with the way we live; trying to keep everything neat and tidy, and in their own place. We store items in a suitcase, as we store information and memories in our mind. This can be deemed ‘emotional baggage’.

Digital archives are similar to locative narratives. The information is fictional but the geography is real. It begins to blur the boundaries of the real and unreal sections of the tale.

There are many mediums in this project. There are movie clips repeated in the side of the box, hyperlinks in the website, and locative narratives as well. This story has no fluidity, as you jump from storyline to storyline. There are too many links to press and you are directed all over the site, trying to navigate your way back. But this chaotic flow of information is the same as the way we search for information online. We are one click away from finding the answers to all of our questions. But we do not necessarily have to remember all this information. We can compartmentalize it all into different sub-headings so we know where to look for it later. All the information we have ever need is at our fingertips, catalogued into digital achieves such as this one.

We are able to have any book right there in front of us with a click of a button. Everything that gets sent out into cyberspace is archived somewhere on the web. With all this information we are able to view an argument from all sides, we are able to discuss every topic with different people all over the globe. The possibilities are endless, and the Tulse Luper’s Suitcases is just one of many examples of how digital archives are changing electronic history.

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Filed under Fiction, Interactive Storytelling

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