Helen Thorington (New York)
Solitaire, 1998


Thorington is a writer, sound composer, and radio producer, whose radio documentary, dramatic work, and sound/music compositions have been aired nationally and internationally for the past eighteen years. She has also created compositions for film and installation that have been premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, the Whitney Biennial, and in the Whitney Museum's annual Performance series.

Her web work includes the turbulence composition for PORT, distributed live by Real Audio to the Internet and to the List Center for the Visual Arts in 1997; narrative works, North Country, Parts 1(1996) and 2 (1997); and Adrift, a networked collaboration with Marek Walzcak and Jesse Gilbert, created for the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria in September 1997 and performed monthly through May 1998. An updated Adrift will be performed for the Walker Art Center in 2000. Thorington is the initiator of the Adrift project. She writes its texts and contributes both voice and pre-recorded sound/music to its soundscore. She has also taken part as a composer in a number of transatlantic webcasts. Solitaire is her most recent "permanent" work.

Thorington is the recipient of a 1995 and 1997 Meet the Composer grant, and Music Commissions (1995 and 1998) from the New York State Council on the Arts. She is a published author and a frequently requested speaker on radio and Internet arts.

Thorington is also the Executive Director of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. (aka Ether-Ore), the founder and producer of the national weekly radio series, New American Radio (1989-1998), and founder and producer of the turbulence and somewhere websites. Thorington recently initiated an Online Project to enable arts organizations and artists to produce or participate in the production of online performance events.


Solitaire is a narrative experiment that exploits the fun of a game and the challenge and satisfaction of telling a good story. Each card in the Solitaire deck contains an illustration and a short text. The user selects the texts he/she likes and clicks on the text: "Add this line". The selected text is automatically moved to the right side of the page, where the user can see it and the texts selected thereafter in the order in which they were selected.

When finished, the user can choose to title and sign the story and place it in the Solitaire gallery, or not.

The deck each user works with is selected randomly by the computer from an enlarging database of cards. Each deck contains 54 cards. 52 have texts and images on them. Two are Jokers or wild cards on which the player can write his own texts. These texts are added to the database of possible cards, thus insuring an increasing number of texts, greater variety among the stories, and eventually, multiple authorship.

The drawings for Solitaire were created by Marianne Petit; John Neilson did the CGI scripting.