“The Defacement of Desire” by Braxton Soderman and Roxanne Carter

Screen shot from “The Defacement of Desire” by Braxton Soderman and Roxanne Carter. An empty room with pictures of women as walls and, also, as the floor. In the middle there is a rectangle with a distorted text that is not very readable.
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This collaborative poem is designed as an installation at Brown University’s CAVE, a cube-shaped room equipped with projection in all six directions, surround sound, and multiple input devices, such as 3D goggles, gloves, and head tracking. Soderman and Carter use this last input significantly in this work as described in their artists’ statement:

Surrounded by four giant close-ups of cinematic starlets gazing down upon you, there is no choice but to look (or look away). Using the built-in “headtracking” feature of the Cave, a portion of the starlet’s face in your line of sight fades away, thus interrupting the (masculine) desire to possess through the gaze: you cannot help but see through what you desire to possess.

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“Snowblind” by Braxton Soderman and Roxanne Carter

Screen capture from “Snowblind” by Braxton Soderman and Roxanne Carter. Black backround with white computer symbols like money symbols, numbers,numeric symbol, percentage asterisks, etc. Text “Nothing left to abstract/ an aggregate”.
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This collaborative poem was written for the CAVE at Brown University and is a relatively simple yet compelling argument for this kind of writing, initiated by Robert Coover in 2002. Other CAVE works reviewed in this blog have published video documentation of a performance, which is a far cry from the real deal, but considering it takes time and money to travel to Brown University to use their CAVE (and a prohibitive amount of money to build one), this will do. Soderman and Carter have gone a step further by providing access to the Cave Text Editor and the source files for readers to explore the work and run a preview of it.

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“Larvatus Prodeo” by Braxton Soderman and Roxanne Carter

"Larvatus Prodeo" by Braxton Soderman and Roxanne Carter. Text on white background. Text: "LARVATUS PRODEO / She went out at five o'clock, her crocodile skin handbag nestled under one arm, / her hands busy, rubbing salt between her fingertips. / From the door of the house she emerged in her grey tailored suit / A door soaked in blood, a door at once familiar and mysterious. / The birds in the trees called out, repeating like sirens. / down onto the sidewalk with an air of certainty and stability, / Walking forward she fixed her pillbox hat's netted veil in place, / How could she continue? / as if hooked to the bobby pins in her hair. / The birds in the trees called out, repeating like sirens. / It's not clear why this is happening. / She hurried along as long as anything could happen. / distracted by doll shoes, teeth-marked pencils, bottle caps and acorns. / She agonized over all of this. She bent down to retrieve a penny and, / The birds in the trees called out, repeating like sirens."
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This collaborative poem in three parts makes virtuoso use of the marquee tag, which along with the ever-annoying blink tag, has been disavowed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which imperils its existence in future browsers. Each of its parts uses this tag as a central device for shaping its text in a different way to play with Barthes’ notion of how the past is reduced and turned into “a slim and pure logos” through narrative as well as with Descartes’ use of the latin phrase larvatus prodeo (I come forth, masked).

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