Marshall McLuhan sees artists' intermingling--this cross-pollenization--of different mediums as a kind of translation. "That technologies," he says, "are ways of translating one kind of knowledge into another mode has been expressed by Lyman Bryson in the phrase 'technology is explicitness.' Translation is thus a 'spelling-out' of forms of knowing" (63). Knowing becomes a commentary and a social critique in feminist hypertext and it is spelled-out in the conjunction of everyday images and its hypertext translation and enactment of radical ideas.
The concept of translation is key in many feminist hypertexts where intertextuality is so often central to the genesis of a piece. For example, Adriene Jenik's hypertextual video love affair with Nicole Brossard's novel, Le Désert Mauve, is explicitly entitled Mauve Desert: A CD-ROM Translation. Jenik, however, does not merely reproduce the original text in an electronic format, but literally re-envisions it, translating and inscribing herself and her perspective in the process into the text in various ways--including by reproducing her correspondence with Brossard over the course of the project. Both Brossard's novel and Jenik's CD-ROM foreground translation and subjectivity in their texts.
Most hypertext intertexts work with their mother texts in similar ways, but few are so faithful. Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl or A Modern Monster, for example, sets up a series of 'what ifs' with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and stitches together elements from the classic text with her own vision in startling ways. Kathryn Cramer translates Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass into a dark, postmodern retelling of the self (and its shattering) in reverse: In Small and Large Pieces is literally told backwards if the reader follows the jigsaw puzzle logic of the defaults from electronic page to electronic page.
M.D. Coverley (Marjorie Luesebrink) in The Lacemaker, Elys uses the starting point of Madame de Lafayette's Book of Hours to give voice to an entirely different class and perspective from de Lafayette's version of French society. Coverley not only tells the story of a character--a lacemaker in an era when women were sewn into their dresses--who had to have existed in the context of the times but who never makes an appearance in de Lafayette's text, but she also uses that character to introduce Charles Perrault's Little Red Riding Hood's choice of following the path of pins or the path of needles as structural links.
Like Coverley, Sanford translates an ellipse in her source text, Charles de Maupassant's tale "Two Little Soldiers," into a forum for giving a silent woman a voice. She shatters the text into a visual collage and transposes de Maupassant's unnamed female character into Red Mona, aka Simone de Milo, resituated in a modern day context. Utilizing the discourses of advertising's objectification of the female body and French haute couture, Sanford shifts the original story's focus away from a stereotypical femme fatale figure and object of two young soldier's desire into a woman who becomes a desiring consumer, with French and English voices of her own.
The Maleus Maleficarium (the witch hunter's bible in the days of the inquisition) is an unlikely but effective intertext for Juliet Ann Martin's telephone game in A Witch's Work is Never Done (part of her larger hypertext Can you see me through the computer?). Since, according to Spengler and Kramer's text, woman is the instrument of evil, Martin lets the reader dial up the devil.
Jeanne Larsen returns to oral forms of telling and incorporates Navaho myths of creation, hopi tales and Coyote in Century Cross (one section of Samplers: Nine Vicious Little Hypertexts) as intertexts. Coyote and his 'nothing bundle' materialize in the Federal Building where the narrator is working late and his situation becomes an allegory for the threat of armament and the capabilities for mass destruction.
Ancient mythology also forms an intertext for Carolyn Guyer's Quibbling. Peopled with geishas, secretaries, nuns and harlot-priestesses, Quibbling reflects on and draws from a wealth of sources--from Laurie Anderson to Herman Melville, from Caroline Heilbrun to Deleuze and Guattari--situated within a framework birthed by Christian rites and goddess worship.
The feminist philosophies underlying most of these revisionings are fairly explicit, but their very effectiveness lies not so much in the telling as in the conjunction of the telling and the showing: they literally enact the philosophies they articulate. By foregrounding subjectivity within and through this kind of cross-pollenization, they make political issues explicit in startling ways.