Katko's video exists at the very borders of what might be called "electronic literature" in the way a Dada cut-up or, worse, the final silences of Guy Debord and the Situationist Internationale exists on the edge of literature—visible there on the precipice before falling off, but never entirely gone. "Up Against the Screen" is a call for the destruction of screens and their power to buttress societal control, and was created involuntarily during the attempt to instantiate the power of those very screens, in this case the 3D simulations of the Cave environment. Abrasive, abstract, even annoying, its rainbow cones are in fact digital letterforms broken to their core components of pixel/vertex and color. The protagonist who stares numbly into one of the Cave screens implicates the viewer as a drone hypnotized before our never-arriving future.
Author description: The poem is an abstract rendition of the rotten silk that fetters us people to these our awful screens. The graphics were generated in the CAVE writing text editor, by taking an ill-performing video screen capture of a spectral tube of "O"s in the editor's desktop preview mode. The audio was separately generated by improvisations into a Max/MSP patch. The title is after the late 60s anarchist affinity group, Up Against the Wall Mother Fuckers. I was inspired by their dramatic final exploit: cutting open the fences at Woodstock. The phrase Up Against the Screen Mother Fuckers started as the title for a CAVE piece, in which one thousand units of the people would enter the CAVE and break through its 4 screens to the vestibule holding the mirrors behind it.
Instructions: Requires Quicktime
Previous publication: The poem was composed between Paris and Cork, 1-5 July 2007. The media was generated at Brown University, October 2007 to June 2008. First screened in Providence at Couscous, organized by Mairéad Byrne.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.