As the author I find it hard to define my work, especially something as complex as BlueSuburbia. I don’t think I could describe it better than Brandon Backhaus did in his GetUnderground article. He wrote: “BlueSuburbia is the perfect name for this online maze of poetry and art. Its hallways and trapdoors extend out in a seemingly infinite web of superb animation hovering in that wonderful territory between wicked and beautiful”. The essence of the words is dark, sarcastic, expressive and refreshingly subversive. It sounds like a joke but you can literally get lost while wandering down any one of the site’s exquisitely drawn meandering pathways, where what the next click will bring one can never be certain. To really purposefully follow any series of clicks is to have no idea how to get back to the first screen – in a good way. Every time I go to the site I am drawn in a new direction and have yet to accidentally end up in the same spot. Navigation on the site is done through a series of animated icons that are integrated into the backdrops so seamlessly that it often takes a second to figure out where to go next. Sometimes there are several possibilities – from a book against a wall, a scroll curled up on an end table, or a poem drifting across the screen propelled by some ethereal mist. Distant flowers lead to intricate close-ups and secret passageways; rat traps swirl into demented poetic offerings. Don’t be surprised if you end up tripping on some sort of psychedelic whirling sculpture or marveling at the sickly detailed backgrounds. And the next poem is always a surprise, in composition, theme and presentation. The childish, magical feel is the sites most wondergul quality. It literally sucks you in. The artwork and animation leaves one altogether breathless and curious for what comes next. It has a feel of being from the other side of the looking glass. It gives you the nagging sensation that the rabbit hole is never far off. The Alice in Wonderland quality is mixed with a dark Burtonesque approach to the strangeness of normal life. It’s like as if the white rabbit had appeared to, rather than a 19th century little girl, Edward Scissorhands. Toss in a little mindfuck straight from the Matrix, where babies are plugged into a pumping syringe that endlessly injects the facades of society into its brain – and you have successfully described the sunny cul-de-sacs of BlueSuburbia. While the artwork is great, the various mediums in which it is presented adds a great deal to the fun. You never know if one’s click will be greeted by a vast new landscape, a series of light animations that end in poetry, a poem itself or a fully animated cartoon like “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” I won’t spoil any of the locations. You have to go wander around and find them yourself. The poems’ topics range from corrupted educational systems, intense alienation and systemic power structures to good old teen angst. The poem’s hard line antiestablishment sentiment is the only commonality.
Nathalie Lawhead is a poet, writer, designer, animator, photographer, sculptor, and classical artist, liberally mixing these creative outlets into her on-line work. She currently operates as a freelancer, and senior designer for the infamous web design team codenamed AlienMelon. Nathalie’s work includes oddities such as BlueSuburbia.com, a poetically twisted interactive vector animation featuring her poems, the HaikuForge.com, a collection of 21st century Haiga, and NathalieLawhead.com a seizure inducing visual Flash blog. She is one of the authors of New Masters of Flash Volume 3 by Friends of Ed.