Faculty Sponsor

Sarah Jantzi


Arts and Sciences


Art, Digital Media, Poetry, Web Programming

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-1-2020


Our lives are increasingly lived online, including our relationships. Much of our communication is now typed rather than handwritten or spoken. This new reality is in full display with Valpo's switch to distance learning during COVID-19. Instead of immediately critiquing our reality, I wanted to explore the complex and often surreal nature of digital, long distance, or writing-based relationships. How does interacting online change our decisions, our wants and needs, our perception of other people, and the overall trajectory of relationships? "Letters" is a website that combines the choose-your-own-adventure game format with the surrealist exercise of echo poetry to provoke those very questions.

On the "Letters" website, users choose from different words to help the website "write" an echo poem about online interactions. Traditionally, an echo poem is written by two people on a page divided into two columns. The first person writes a verse on the left-hand side of the page. The other person then writes an "echo," a single word that corresponds phonetically, on the right-hand side in response. Taken separately, the left-hand and right-hand columns each form their own individual poem - even the "echoes" are their own cohesive thought. The two sides taken together create a powerful dialogue and their own full piece. For "Letters," the website user writes the "echo" side of the poem, thus contributing to the final written and visual piece. In the end, "Letters" exemplifies the internet's potential as a social and creative medium while also pointing out its limiting effect on relationships.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Anna Styrczula is a senior Digital Media Art and Humanities major with a Computer Science minor. She works mainly in graphic design and digital media and plans to go into those fields. She is particularly interested int he ways the art and computer science fields intersect. "Letters" was born from her personal experiences with online relationships, both romantic and platonic.