Blue Velvet: Re-dressing New Orleans in Katrina's Wake

"Blue Velvet: Re-dressing New Orleans in Katrina's Wake" brings together "sound, text, photography, video, and several maps, [sculpting] an evocative and poignant landscape that nonetheless refuses all registers of nostalgia, insisting as it does that we locate Katrina and the Crescent City among multiple trajectories of policy, memory, and representation.

While the piece proceeds via a loose linear structure, Goldberg, Hristova, and Loyer complicate this linearity via a logic of accretion and sedimentation. Meaning shimmers and dissolves, responding to the mouse and accumulating elsewhere, asking the user to follow its twists and turns into darker places. Words break apart but also serve to reorient us, allowing both drift and continuity. Such an information architecture serves to reinforce key claims of the project, foregrounding the reality of, for instance, a structural racism that always seems to disappear from view, connecting the dots between life in New Orleans and the growing prison population of the United States. As Goldberg observes, 'Incarceration has many modalities.'

It is crucial that we continue to underscore – as 'Blue Velvet' so powerfully does – that the tragic events that unfolded in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast were possible precisely because of years of neoliberal policies that underwrote the necessary conditions for such devastation in the first place. Likewise, the decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq directly impacted ongoing efforts to repair the city's levees, with pursuit of empire trumping domestic infrastructure and safety. Several non-profits estimate that the cost of one day of the war in Iraq for the U.S. is $220 million. The cost of the war for one day would almost have completed the levee repairs begun in Louisiana in the years before Katrina. The poetic pace and haunting spaces of 'Blue Velvet' take us closer to that truth than any evening spent with CNN." – Vectors Journal Editorial Staff



Published in Fall, 2007 by Vectors in Volume 3, Issue 1.

Note: this flash work incorporates a database and preservation work is ongoing to make it function as intended. in the meantime, we have made the work available as a playthrough. This copy was given to the Electronic Literature Lab by Erik Loyer in November of 2021.


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