Writing Electronic Literature
28 November 2016
Before choosing my piece, I saw myself picking one with lots of visuals and cool sounds. It was what I always noticed in every other piece and was what stood out to me the most. The fact that the piece I chose has no sound or out of the ordinary visuals is very interesting.
Annie Abraham’s Separation was a piece of Elit that caught my attention from the very beginning. It starts off with a blank screen leaving the reader to wonder what to do next. Naturally, we click to see if we can trigger anything on the screen. Once the reader clicks the screen, a word pops up. It starts off with, “lonely”...leaving the reader to realize he/she has the power to make all of the words appear with just a click of a mouse.
I love when pieces involve the reader. This piece is extremely interactive. The whole piece is a poem about separation. The poem appears to be about a person writing about how this one person they are addicted to isn’t good for them. I assumed it was a person writing to their significant other.
After every couple of lines, a screen pops up with a breathing technique. Each one helps the reader disconnect, stretch and focus. For example, the first exercise is called “show the pain”. In this exercise, the reader is asked to open their mouth and lips as wide as possible, simultaneously raising their eyebrows as high as possible. They have to hold for counts of 5 and repeat until the red bar goes away. The second exercise that pops up is called, “caress your back”. The reader is asked to put their arm behind their head with the palm touching their back. Hold onto their elbow with the other hand and gently pull, across and down. Go to the point where they feel a stretch in your shoulder and upper arm and hold this position. Repeat both sides several times. These exercises definitely come off as random when reading the poem especially if you didn’t read the intro to the piece.
The intro talks about how the text was originally written by a patient in a hospital in 2001. The patient was being asked to use a tool to prevent RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). This tool was the collection of exercises of the brain and body.
Here is a bit of the intro to help explain the piece:
“All computer workers tend to forget their body, and so risk to be a victim of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) one day. The visitors of 'separation' are constraint to click slowly (, as someone recovering from rsi) to see appearing one word at a time of the text. Every now and then a exercise is proposed and all interaction with the computer is postponed. (A recovering rsi patient needs to do this kind of exercises.)
The text seems to be about a separation between human beings, only the last two phrases reveal that it's about a separation between a human being and a computer.”
After reading the intro, I knew the poem was dedicated to the person’s computer. It made total sense! The lines that stuck out to me the most were “You never need a break and when you are down it’s me who has to repair you. You won’t repair me”. I found these lines powerful because there is so much truth to these words. When my computer is down, I have to take it to get looked at or read the manual that came with it to help it work again. I do my best to help the computer because I need it for work and pleasure. I have grown so attached to it that when it is down, I freak out and do my best to make it work again. When I am down and broken, the computer doesn’t fix me. When I am sad and going through a rough patch, the computer isn’t asking for help to make me work again. I do more for the computer than it does for me. So why am I so attached to it? Later on in the poem it says, “From now on I will use you and I won’t let you take me over again”. This is something that stayed with me after reading this piece. I will not let my computer take over me and neither should anyone else. We are in control. We are the users of technology. Technology does not control us.