Reconstructing Mayakovsky is a work of Russian Futurism by Illya Szilak that uses various media to create an futuristic world where the alternative reality technology, called OneWorld, allows users to escape pain, disease, loneliness, and poverty of real life. It is based off the work of one of the first Russian Futurist poets, Vladimir Mayakovsky.
The work itself is set up like it’s own separate universe. The first page moves around, making it hard to click on the link you intended, and plays music that sounds like the audio tracks from space stations.
I clicked on the Movies link first, and it showed a video that both felt like a promotional pitch for the fictional OneWorld and one of the cheesy “imagine the future” movies that play in museum exhibitions. A link on that page redirected me to a completely different website with an art animation set to the sound of a dissonant piano piece. I got the sense that it was a depiction of a life cycle, because it ended with the same image that it began with.
The Audio Podcasts link led to a page full of different sized numbers. Pointing your cursor at a number would cause an audio clip to start playing. There wasn’t any clear theme to the audio. There was everything from classical music, rain, a marching band rendition of the Spiderman song, sex noises, a church’s podcast, children making noises, Presidential speeches, etc. Some of the sounds were pleasant, but many were creepy, especially when one audio track would still be fading out while the next one started. This was my favorite page to explore, because I found the randomness really fascinating.
Mechanism B seemed to be the most elusive page, spinning away from me every time I tried to click on it. It is set up much like the first page, only all the link in this section lead to a section of a story that takes place in the future where OneWorld exists. The words in the links refer to words in that section of the story, the numbers showing how many times that word is repeated. Each link corresponded to one chapter, going all the way to Chapter 46, which has The End at the bottom, but not all the chapters are available in one version of the page. You have to go back and forth between the main page and Mechanism B to discover all the parts of the story- it really seems like a novel.
The characters use OneWorld as an escape from their actual reality, but the story is very critical of the virtual world, and seemingly of technology and the internet in general. This is interesting considering the medium used to tell the story, but its non-linear construction also serves to emphasize the disconnect between the characters and their lives, as a result of this virtual reality. Mechanism A allows readers to limitedly explore that reality which they then read about in Mechanism B.
It’s appropriate that the tagline of Reconstructing Mayakovsky is “a novel of the future” because I can really imagine a future where electronic literature allows authors to create universes online that readers can explore that are both separate and connected to the actual text of the novel. Right now, the equivalent I can think of are the online interactive maps to novels like The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire where readers can engage with the text visually through the map, but the possibilities are endless.
By Eileen Settlemyer
Original Work: http://www.reconstructingmayakovsky.com
All photos are screenshots taken from the original work.