SAFE MODE by Sam Riviere
SAFE MODE by Sam Riviere
147mm x 215mm, 128 pages, black and white offset printing throughout, section sewn exposed spine (perfect glue bound), with dust jacket, edition of 350, 2017.
Published by Test Centre
'Test Centre is delighted to announce the publication of Safe Mode, an ambient novel by Sam Riviere, and his first book-length prose text.
Safe Mode, a diagnostic tool of a computer operating system, typically takes effect when an installation has a major problem. A parallel, miniature operating system contained by, yet separate from, the main operating system – here, is Safe Mode conceived as an apt metaphor for a literary work’s relation to the author’s life, or an emergency method of recovery?
Framed as an ‘ambient novel’, a term coined by the American writer Tan Lin, Safe Mode abandons the traditional novel’s temporal logic in favour of spatial and atmospheric dispersal, combining intensely personal material with unacknowledged appropriated content to explore the narratives made possible by mood, or the moods made possible by narrative. Which is which? Does it even matter?
Maybe the true 21st century luxury is to always be elsewhere. Stations and bedrooms, names and points of view, dreams and videogames, abandoned and speculative projects, junk emails and love poems, trip reviews and horoscopes – all prove unfixed, able to shift and alternate, vie and repeat, in a text produced by strict formal procedure and conceptual drift – the QWERTY alphabet, a tarot pack.
What kind of information is the most personal or valuable anyway, and to who? The last thing you searched for? Stories told so many times you’re unsure who they happened to? This unsaved document? Or a set of found photographs, saved from destruction on the cusp of the digital era, when things could still really disappear…
An act of self-surveillance, an experiment in discretion and believability, Safe Mode utilises our newly automated behaviours – copy-paste and find-and-replace keystrokes, instant deletion, image searches, advance viewing – to scramble the channels of poetry and fiction, assessing their distorting and/or enabling influence on our personhood and reflexivity.
The book’s design reflects the text’s formal experimentation, playing on ideas of authorial identity and narrative dispersal, encouraging the reader to abandon traditional ways of reading and to embrace the disorienting freedom this facilitates.