• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Heart of Darkness Project

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 6 months ago

The Corporation / Heart of Darkness Project


Team Members: Jonathan Pelleg, Jonathan Svilar, Jeremy Cowan


Summary of the Heart of Darkness Project:

    The primary goal of the Heart of Darkness Project (found here) was to create a functional model of a modern corporate web space while simultaneously preserving the nature of the company formed within the novel. This goal was achieved by researching numerous corporate web styles so that the project might more accurately capture what they represent. TaPor was also used in conjunction with the web-design process with the intention of isolating the motifs of the text so that they may be transplanted from the medium of the novella to the more aesthetically dependent hyper reality of the internet. In adapting such an ancient text for such a new medium we had hoped that new interpretations of the text would appear that would have been impossible to find had the text been wholly confined to print.


Design Stages:


Aesthetics of the Website:

    After making the general decisions regarding the focus of the Heart of Darkness Project, the creators needed to first create an aesthetically pleasing and meaningful template that would be used throughout the site. The team analyzed the text of Heart of Darkness using a web-based text collocation software (TaPor) to gather influential data that evolved into the color scheme of the general website. The Project Team gathered information on several important model websites used in today's modern business which would influence the overall look of the site as well as the series of navigational links and content of the pages that they lead to.  As it turns out, the colors used in heart of darkness most frequently are (in order of times used): white, black, blue, red.  These colors have all been incorporated into the site.


Defining the Different Pages of the Site:

    To be able to convincingly create a site that would emulate the aesthetic of an actual corporate website it became a necessity for the group to research how corporate websites are designed. The Project Team looked at several corporate websites and analyzed their design so as to understand the conventions that are commonly used by corporate websites. Incidently, the Project Team also researched the aesthetic of websites that protest corporate culture in the hopes that, if nothing else, in presenting a counterpoint to the corporate websites these websites may detail ways to attack corporations through their websites.  The team decided on a handful of conventional corporate web page features, and set about writing them.



    The Project Team decided upon the different links that would be created for the website's homepage, then broke up to generate the content of each page individually:

The content generated was placed within the template of the website hosted on Jonathan Pelleg's personal university web space and was carefully edited by all members of the project team.


Re-evaluation of the Project:

After the creation of the individual webpage the group consolidated and re-evaluated the pages until they were deemed to be as satisfactory as they could be made within the time constraints of the project. While not perfect, the imperfections that were left do not detract enough from the website so as to undermine its strengths as an adaption of Heart of Darkness.  Frankly put, the Project Team did as good a job as a bunch of inexperienced English majors could in the cyber, corporate world.  If given more time, the web site would be more professional, have more content, and a number of other tiny details would be finely polished.


Interpretive Essays:

Jonathan Pelleg, "The Power of Greed, Business, and Seduction in Heart of Darkness"

Jeremy Cowan, "The Adapted Model of Heart of Darkness"

Jonathan Svilar, "Modeling and Adaptation: Heart of Darkness as a Corporate Website" 


Page Explanations:

Jonathan Pelleg Page explanations:

  • Main Page: After doing the color search in TAPor (see above), we knew our color scheme.  With the help of a few corporate design books, I created a web site which a corporation may very well put up emphasizing good news and simplicity.  In today's "Web 2.0" world, the keys to corporate design are simplicity, simplicity, simplicity, and to make things shiny and reflective.  That gave birth to the two logos we use.  The different colored "O" is an homage to Mobil, not saying that they are a corrupt company but a big company worth emulating for this project.
  • Africa Page: When the idea arose for a more brutal "truth" page under the guise of a different continent web page, I grabbed the opportunity.  Most big corporate web sites feature alternate versions for different countries, so the idea for a "dark underbelly" page for Africa seemed fitting.  Unlike the American consumers, the African web site viewers have no power and thus do not need to be impressed.  Rather, the Company can speak freely to their African interests without the vineer of good public relations.  Content for the page was difficult to think of, short of completely remaking the web site but with African versions.  Instead, for the project, I decided to quote the book numerous times (including in the logo) relating to the dark side of the Company.  Next to each quote is a hidden link which will take the reader to the paragraph in which quote can be found.  Obviously, this breaks the fourth wall of our "corporate web site."
  • Future Plans: When we first pitched the projects we would make for Heart of Darkness (see below) the idea of an amusement park ride was truly appreciated by the class.  We, upon further analysis, that we would not do justice to such a unique idea within our allotted time.  The ride does, however, make a cameo in this page.  The description trivializes and makes fun a very serious matter, hinting at the attitudes of the Company.  Also, the idea of spreading globalization is suggested with the "East Asian Branch."  The world is, it seems, becoming The World, INC.
  • For Kids: To get the young consumers and workers interested, many company sites feature activities and explanations for kids.  This would be taken in a humorous direction with the Company, explaining the "Elephant Tooth Fairy" which helps make pretty toys for boys and girls.  At the end of the page is a game which we did not have the time to actually make, would further cement the idea that the Company is callous.
  • Press Releases: Following actual press release form, I created two press releases with slanted versions of events in the book.  The "captains slain" refer to the mention of the death of numerous captains which inevitably gets Marlow a job.  The AWOL captain which has been killed is, of course, Kurtz.  References to the text and to the literary figures which the executives represent are piled into these releases.  Given more time, I would obviously have made more since such an established company would clearly have a lot of press to deal with.



Jeremy Cowan Page explanations: 

  • Products Page: All of the images featured on the Products Page are real images of ivory products. While at first glance it may appear that the images on the page are nothing more than resized results from a Google image search the aesthetic decision to place the more common ivory goods (knives, necklaces) near the top of the page while positioning the more obscure and opulent ivory products (cell phone) at the bottom of the page, where a visitor to the site would have to scroll down to see it was a conscious choice. Through this layout the humor of the site permeates through the aesthetic by becoming more ludicrous the farther down a visitor scrolls down the page.
  • FAQ: The FAQ page was designed around the convention observed on several corporate and non-corporate websites (including both Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart Watch) of having a page outlining who the organization at hand is, what they do, and supplying other miscellaneous information. Having elephant heads that look suspiciously like Mickey Mouse adds to the corporate undertones of the page. The reason that the background for this page is gray instead of the customary white is because of the links on the page--being white they will not appear on a white background.
  • Executive Profiles: This page's design was a merger of commentary on and homage to Heart of Darkness with corporate title conventions. CIO, CFO, and CEO are generic, stock titles of positions at corporations, it was in pairing with them the names of figures that influenced or were influenced by Heart of Darkness. T. Eliot is T.S. Eliot who started his poem "The Hollow Men" with the words "Mistah Kurtz--he dead" (an obvious allusion to Heart of Darkness); Leopold Victor is King Leopold of Belgium, the monarch of Belgium and the one responsible for the Congo Free State; H. Thompson is Hunter S. Thompson, who ended his book Hell's Angels with the line "The horror! The horror! ... Exterminate all the brutes!"; and J.C. Kurtz is Joseph Conrad himself.
  • Job Listings: All of the listed jobs are professions occupied in the novel. The description for each of the positions reflects the character of the person or persons who performed the listed job. For example, Marlow, as the captain of a steam had to rebuild the hull of his ship as well as repair the engine and perform other sorts of miscellaneous upkeep while the brick maker never made a single brick and was thought by Marlow to be a spy from the Company to keep watch on the compound that he was in.



Jonathan Svilar Page explanations:

  • Mission Statement: The Mission Statement page features a solitary image of an enormous gate with majestic elephants guarding both sides of the entrance. The Company's name is engraved in the front facade of the building with the mission statement's text in the street leading through the gate. The page is intended more to exhibit the wealth and strength of the Company more than the actual mission statement's text.

  • Enviornmental Awareness: The Enviornmental Awareness page includes three entries (the sparce number due mainly to time constraints) in chronological order briefly detailing some of the Company's newer enviornmental policies. The entries are somewhat ironic (as is often the case, often inadvertently, in the business world) suggesting that the Company cares more about the image of making a  difference than actually making the difference.
  • Business Partners and Charities: Business websites more and more often are featuring various links to charities that they support (for good PR) and links to various companies that they do business with (as a sort of mutual advertising). The Company's own page was another chance to lampoon the ridiculous idea of a Company that is obviously raping the enviornment donating money to enviornmental charties in order to garner a more positive image for it's offices.
  • Investors: The Investors page may have been the most interesting conceptually and the most simple in execution. The page features a single disturbing image of the elephant from the Kid's Page in the process of having it's head removed and a brief message denouncing the Company's actions in Africa. In our modern age a new type of protest is developing in which a sort of "web terrorism" is applied with (an often large number of) people working together to take down webpages who's policies they don't agree with.


Summary of Heart of Darkness:



The main action of Heart of Darkness is a story vicariously experienced by the narrator through the storytelling of his friend Marlow. Marlow gets a job with the Belgian Company (whose main concern is Ivory trade in the Congo) as a steamboat captain because one of the company’s former captains was killed by natives while traveling up the Congo River. When Marlow gets to Africa he finds many of the Company’s various stations in disrepair and hears about an elusive man named Kurtz who gathers and ships more ivory than all of the rest of the companies agents put together. Marlow is asked to pass along a message to Kurtz by the company’s accountant. As Marlow travels along his interest in Kurtz becomes more intense and the disarray of the company’s assets in the jungle becomes more apparent: the steamer that Marlow is supposed to captain was sunk by the general manager of the central station. Eventually, the boat is fixed; Marlow travels up river where he finally encounters Kurtz, who has established a regime where the natives treat him as a God. Kurtz gets sick and finally dies on Marlow’s boat.

                The duality in the nature of the company (i.e.: the fact that the company seemed very legitimate in its native country, yet so out of control and dangerous in the field) is what sparked our group’s imagination. It is this duality that led us to equate them with some of the shadier types of modern businesses: like Enron (and every other oil business for that matter), Wal-mart, and diamond businesses which further lead us to want to explore some resources that we could use to contextualize the company in the modern age.

Heart of Darkness project team 

Potential Projects:


The Corporation Web Site:

  • A study of corporate greed and the power of public relations.
  • A satire of big business web sites and spin.  (e.g. BP, diamonds)
    • Further examples:
      • Apple Computers is repeatedly condemned for their toxicity (the least "green" personal computer manufacturer according to Greenpeace) yet features this on their web site to promote their "caring."  Just like the Corporation cares about the environment.  This is part of a large pattern of big business feigning environmental interests due to the popularity of sustainability and green living with today's consumers.
      • Enron, of course, and their alleged press cover-ups and scandals.  Even their most recent press releases are discrete and tricky, even when their absolute failure is widely known.
      • Wal-mart, Shell, and Exxon-Mobil all have very cheerful web sites with extremely careful diction despite their alleged less-than-admirable affect on numerous facets of society and the environment.  Note that each has a section dedicated to sustainability and the green movement, as well as an emphasis on good deeds done by the company with bad deeds spun or not even mentioned (though mentioned on other sites).  All of the above web sites have sites which show a different side of the truth.  (Example: Wal-Mart Watch)  This shows us enough evidence to create the Corporation web site as a bright and shiny representation of what is essentially slaughter and genocide.
  • To have public statements, job listings, information for investors, etc.
  • Over-the-top "Modest Proposal"-style humor making light of the serious problem of ivory "harvesting".


   Design of the website:

  • Use of text analysis tool (such as TAPoR) to isolate recurrent aesthetic themes (e.g. colors, shapes, etc.) to use in designing the website.
    • A recurring sight in the novella would become a recurring theme on the website.
    • Use of pre-established motifs.
  • Shift of point of view from a distant third person narration to a presentation of the Corporation by the Corporation.
    • Shift of focus from a critique of corporate policy to rewording/justification/self-aware irony of corporate policy/double speak.
      • Who will be the "narrator" of the website? CEO, shareholder (pilgrim), anonymous, one of the managers, the Corporation itself?
  • A focus on the Corporation's involvement in only one industry (ivory) or broaden it (steam boat parts, postal carrier, miscellaneous goods for survival in the jungle)?
    • Possible portrayal of the corporation as a monopoly or as simply monolithic?
  • Possible attempt to counter anti-Corporation figureheads (real or imaginary (Marlow)).
  • Construction of relationships to tangible things:
    • Potential mapping of the Corporation's outposts or of territory "serviced" by the Corporation.
    • Proof of support from other entities, real or imagined, business or government (e.g. government backing, agreements with other companies, etc.).
      • References to detractors (see above) and potentially trying to discredit them.




The Heart of Darkness Ride:


  • In the same vain of satire as the corporation web site, but this amusement park theme ride plays on the Disney corporation as it cuts down epic American folk stories into cute 3-minute-long rides for general consumption.
  • Disney also has a history of racism and Heart of Darkness has also been condemned for its racist undertones.
  • Why a Ride?
    • It seems fitting, as we go into the increasingly attention deficit afflicted future, that we break up a multi-hundred page piece of canonical American fiction with extremely (possibly to a fault) serious undertones into a fun ride.
    • Unique, and rides are always fun!
    • Amusement parks are huge, and an increasing part of American culture.
    • Graphs are fine, movies are exciting, games are entertaining, but only rides absolutely and positively grab your attention and keep you absolutely immersed and thrilled (for just a couple minutes) without a single complex thought to muddy up the whole process.
  • Ride specifics?
    • Cartoony or serious?
    • Action-adventure in-doors raft ride (Indiana Jones meets the Jungle Cruise) or slow-moving, detail-oriented ride (like It's a Small World)?
    • Animatronic Kurtz at the end whispering to the adventurous attraction riders "the horror, the horror"
    • Steam boat, savages, cannibalism
  • How will the ride be represented?
    • An attraction web site
    • Computer models
    • Photoshopped promotional material
  • It can't be reiterated enough that this isn't a serious (or good) idea.  It is purely satire, a probably racist ride about the genocidal ivory trade, "savage" Africans, and cannibalism will never be created.  That's the point of this whole project: to show the dumbing-down of society, to criticize Disney, and to create a neat ride which seems fun in itself.











Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.