Hobart and William Smith Colleges


by Derek Gromadzki

Derek Gromadzki

"Deascension," as it is seen here, is a video capture of a long digital poem that was created using Brown University's CAVE system - Cave Automatic Virtual Environment. The CAVE is a fully immersive display, an 8 x 8-foot cube, in which a participant wears a tracking headset that also provides stereo depth perception. The CAVE cannot render representational video, only typographic characters and roughly modeled objects. To enter "Deascension" in the CAVE is to enter an environment made, in part, of language and, in part, of code that drives its linguistic counterpart in and out of legibility, and thereby, in and out of existence. The entirety of the text embedded and executed in the CAVE's coding and operating system fills one side of a standard 8 1/2 x 11-inch piece of paper, single-spaced, in twelve-point font. The digital environment that those interfacing with the CAVE briefly inhabit is, therefore, the upscaled and technically supplemented page itself. And the path through the unstable architecture of the poem that repeats and slips represents one possible reading, out of a profusion of others, of the page space. I am deeply indebted to Griffin Hartmann, who helped me take this poem and its rough conceptual framework from text and storyboard through the complex CAVE software and into a fully interactive experience.

Derek Gromadzki is a poetry MFA candidate in the Literary Arts Program at Brown University, where he holds the Peter Kaplan Memorial Fellowship. His work has appeared in a variety of journals including, most recently, Drunken Boat, and is forthcoming in Barn Owl Review, Spittoon, and Upstairs at Duroc.