Separation / Séparation, Annie Abrahams

abrahams__separationSeparation / Séparation is an interactive piece that reflects some of the physical and psychic disorders that result from intensive use of a computer. The text was written under the effects of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), which also functions as a metaphor for what happens to a writer (or ‘cyborgauthor’) who cannot create without, and has no identity apart from, the machine. The paradox is that separating from the computer is painful, but to write with it again is painful as well. Separation / Séparation has to be read at a very slow pace that, when not respected, collapses the text, with the result that the reader must perform a set of exercises as physical penitence. These exercises interrupt the reader from Separation / Séparation’s literary text and thus strangely protect her against RSI. The game and dialogue among artist, machine, and reader facilitates a general reflection on the role of the body in processes of reading and writing.

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Author description: This text was written during a stay in the hospital in 2001. Computer workers often neglect their bodies and by doing so they risk the development of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The visitors of Separation / Séparation are compelled to click slowly (as someone recovering from RSI) in order to see how words appear, one by one. Every now and then an exercise for an RSI patient is proposed and all interaction with the computer is postponed. The text seems to be about a separation between human beings, but the last two phrases reveal that it is about a separation between a human being and a computer. The exercises in this piece are based on the exercises in WorkPace, a software tool that assists in the recovery and prevention of RSI.


  • e-lit