Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts




Creative Writing and Environment

First Advisor

Debra Marquart

Second Advisor

Alex Braidwood


Field Notes From an Infalling Observer, Sequence 8, and Unidentified Inquiry / Unknown Wave, are three intermedia projects comprising the body of creative work in fulfillment of my M.F.A. thesis. In Field Notes From an Infalling Observer, a collection of poetry and computer generated typographic designs, narrative themes of annihilation, communication, and rebirth are explored. (It must be noted that an infalling observer is a theoretical observer entering a black hole.)

The non-linear narrative follows The Observer through a series of events on their way to study a black hole in the heart of the Hercules Galaxy. While traveling, the Observer interacts with several other characters, including alternate versions of themself. The Observer confronts a female manifestation of themself and is forced to examine the shifting or quantum nature of gender and sexuality. The collection is framed by three poem cycles, “Uncategorized Observations of KIC 8462852,” “Post/Pre (E),” and “Dreams in the Key of SETI minor,” the first two being distributed throughout the collection while the latter is situated in the middle of the collection. Each of the “Post/Pre (E)” poems contains a code generated, and indeterminate, interpretation of the entire thesis. Each of these is a representation of a black hole, with the final image representing the passage of The Observer through a black hole.

Sequence 8 is a musical composition for live performance. This piece primarily explores musical indeterminacy, through the use of coding, randomization software, and field recordings. Conceptually, the narrative structure is an extended interpretation of Field Notes From an Infalling Observer. The spoken word content of Sequence 8 is the poem cycle “Post/Pre (E).” This thereby mirrors the narrative content of the poetry collection while also exploring the narrative impacts of medium reinterpretation. The foundation of the composition is a series of four field recordings edited and indeterminately arranged with the aid of software. The field recordings are arranged in the Fibonacci Sequence (an algorithmic sequence where every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding numbers) and this informs the overall structure. The composition is thirteen minutes long and the eighth iteration of the Fibonacci sequence’s value is eight.

Hence the name Sequence 8.

Unidentified Inquiry / Unknown Wave is a video composition and animation that uses one of the black hole analogues from Field Notes From an Infalling Observer as pliable substrate to further examine and interpret the initial narrative of the collection in yet another medium. Concretely, this is an exploration of two-dimensional text set in a three-dimensional space to simulate a black hole. The most abstract of the three projects, Unidentified Inquiry / Unknown Wave, explores nonlinear narratives, indeterminacy, space, motion, and eventually non-narrative structure.

SETI, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, discovered a Fast Radio Burst on 15 May 2015, whose point of origin—the Hercules Galaxy—& intensity suggest intent. This is the impetus for all three projects. This real event sparked the question of “well, what would happen if I. . .”. Each of these three narratives is an attempt to answer all derivations of that question.

These three projects, Field Notes From an Infalling Observer, Sequence 8, and Unidentified Inquiry / Unknown Wave, are nested such that the collection of poems sequentially informs the next project. Each project contains overlapping content as well as a reinterpretation of the initial seed project, the collection of poems. Each has been created to stand alone and within the context of each other.

Copyright Owner

Joel Nathanael Hughes



File Format


File Size

75 pages