The Unknown: The Green Line.


The Green Line: Interactive Live Readings of the Unknown

A documentary history of the readings of the Unknown, from what shards remain against the ruins of the Unknown.

“The event was raw, uneven, a trifle disorganized and initially a bit confusing. But no matter: The ‘Unknown’ reading perhaps heralds a new kind of performance art, one that puts audience members in the front seat alongside the artists, instead of sticking them in the back and telling them to shut up and enjoy the scenery.

....Hypertext gimmicks aside, these guys can really write.”

—Julia Keller, The Chicago Tribune

on the screen
1. William’s Birthday Party
Labor Day 1998: Urbana, Illinois
We had a party at Mike’s to celebrate both William’s birthday and Mike’s yard, and in addition, of course, the struggles of working people everywhere.

2. From Bard to Verse
WEFT 90.1 FM
Champaign, Illinois: Fall, 1998
An interactive reading for radio, with Carl Estabrook, the host, choosing the links, while the three of us passed a laptop around in front of some live microphones. Sadly unrecorded.

3. The University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio: October 23, 1998
The crowd was massive. The hills were rolling. We read, did jello shots, and went to a wedding in the woods.

4. Brown University
Technology Platforms for 21st Century Literature Conference
Providence, Rhode Island: April 7-9, 1999
Man was it great at Brown. There were all sorts of cool gizmos and new literatures, and the food was magnificent. You shoulda been there. Heck we shoulda stayed there. Man, do we miss Brown. Watch the video online.

5. Brown University
Technology Platforms for 21st Century Literature Conference
Providence, Rhode Island: April 7-9, 1999
(We gave two readings at Brown. One was well-rehearsed and twelve minutes in length. The other was spontaneous and interactive. With beer.)

6. The Associated Writing Programs Conference
Albany, New York: April 15, 1999
After our New England Hospitality Tour, which swung us through New Hampshire and Vermont, we hit Albany. Everything is a let down after Brown, but we received our award for the trAce/Alt-X prize (500 £ - split among the three of us, didn’t even cover what we spent drinking on our way to claim it.) But trace was very good to us, and the private banquet was extraordinary.

7. Priceless Books
Urbana, Illinois: April 19,1999
If you’re ever in Urbana and you like books...

8. Illinois State University
Normal, Illinois: April 20, 1999
Curt White took his philosophy class to watch us read the Unknown. A videotape exists, though we have as yet no means of digitizing it.

13 Lucky Years.

9. Jean’s Place
Chicago, Illinois: June 5, 1999
Really a very different crowd than we had during our Ivy League tour of earlier in the year. Jean’s, a bar where Algren once drank, has been paved to make way for gentrification. We’re glad we were able to put it in the Unknown, though this reading was among our worst of all time. Paul Kotheimer was good though. It was Kitty's birthday and he sang her a birthday song.

10. Coe College
Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Monday, September 20, 1999
Cherry Auditorium
Chuck Aukema, to be frank, pretty much picked up the tab. Chuck got it right. We attended a Cuban fish fry across the street from Kurt Vonnegut’s old house.

11. Harold Washington Library
Chicago, Illinois: Saturday, October 2, 1999
Multipurpose Room
Joe and Bethany made it up from Champaign, and Joe acted as mousemaster. Afterward we went to Berghoffs and stumbled around laughing at the cows.

12. Unknown on Unknown
WEFT 90.1 FM / Alt-X Self-Interview
Champaign. Illinois: October 16, 1999
I still can’t believe we got away with this. Probably the first time a radio show was used as a means to create a webpage, but I’m not sure.

13. Digital Arts and Culture Conference
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, Georgia: October 30, 1999
This was Scott’s birthday, our thirteenth reading, and Halloween. An ill-fated setup to be sure. Don’t ask about the scar on Scott’s forehead.

14. GiG
Deadtech Gallery
Logan’s Square, Chicago, Illinois: December 11, 1999
A live national teleperformance connecting Seattle, Chicago, and New York, through the e-poetry network.

15. MLA Conference
Annual Meeting of the Modern Language Association
Chicago, Illinois: December 29, 1999
Scott claims he spilled wine on Charles Bernstein. He gets to have all the fun.

16. Aught Eve
William’s House
Champaign/Urbana: December 31, 1999
We partied as if it were literally 1999 in Mike’s Y2K compound. No apocalypse happened.

17. The Ropes Lectures
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio: March 1, 2000
Birkerts, Powers, LeClair, Coover, Hayles, Rob Wittig, and us. 'Twas a fine reading, catch the Real Audio.

18. Art Night
Chicago, Illinois: Friday, May 5th, 2000
Starring Kurt Heinz as Dirk Stratton.

19. ELO Fundraiser
At the home of Richard Bangs
Seattle, WA: Thursday, May 25th 2000
A swank party in a mansion on a mountain followed by a meeting with the original Invisibles of Seattle.

20. Hypertext ‘00
San Antonio, TX: Wednesday, May 31st, 2000
Hypertext theorists and library scientists alike had a chuckle at the unexpected level of academically unjustifiable content the Unknown had to offer.

21. ELO Fundraiser
At the home of George Plimpton
New York, NY: Thursday, June 15, 2000
“When you come to the Plimptons’, you can smoke and drink and stay as late as you want.” - Sarah

22. Electronic Literature Demonstration
New York University
New York, NY: Saturday, June 17, 2000
Scott and I gave our first sober reading in a very high-tech room at NYU. This one was captured by a professional videographer, and may eventually make it to the web.

23. Electronic Book Review Party
Joe Tabbi’s loft
Chicago, Illinois: November 4, 2000
Possibly our worst Chicago reading, due to a malfunctioning smoke machine and acoustic difficulties caused by an audience who didn’t seem to notice that there was a reading going on. Some of the guests I spoke to, in fact, hadn’t heard of the Electronic Book Review, nor did they seem interested. But what a cool apartment!

24. Boston
Nick Montfort’s Apartment
November 2000
Boston, Massachusetts
Starring Diane Greco as Dirk Stratton.

25. GIG 2.0
Center Portion
Chicago, Illinois: December 9, 2000
Probably our best Chicago reading. Starring Rob Wittig as Dirk Stratton. William introduced the Unknown, explaining our position on the canon, and laid bare the Unknown’s hip-hop influence with a contemporary interpretation of Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” The vibe was great, it felt like an e-literati family holiday celebration.

26. (inter)PERSONAL
A School of the Art Institute of Chicago Online Exhibition
(Opening at Joe Tabbi’s Loft)
Chicago, Illinois: April 21st, 2001

27. The Boston T1 Party
The Boston Public Library, Raab Auditorium
Part of the Boston Cyberarts Festival
Boston, Massachusetts : April 25th, 2001 6:30 PM

28. Hotel Room.
Providence, Rhode Island.
Actress Unknown.

29. Electronic Literature State of the Arts Symposium.
Los Angeles, California: April 4th, 2002

30. San Diego State University
San Diego, California: April 8th, 2002
A visit to the "Smart Room." after two hours at 100 MPH over winding mountain mountain roads with Father McCaffery. I love my wife. I have a lot to live for. Quite literally edges and interfaces. Passing Boo. Remind me to wear my seatbelt. Only to be insulted by Federman for being too linear, not exploding syntax. Shit.

31. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Chicago, Illinois: April 20, 2002
Part of the Version>02 Festival of Digital Culture. Starring Eric Rasmussen as William Gillespie

32. Babbitt's Books
Normal, Illinois: May 18th, 2002
The first reading from The Unknown: an Anthology.

33. Joint Work
Kelly Writers House, Penn, Philadelphia: Valentine's Day 2004
With Implementation and 2002

34. &NOW
Weird Academic Conference, Notre Dame University, Indiana: March 2004

35. Stallings
Brown University. Apr. 2005

36. Authors Unknown.
Evergreen College, Olympia, WA. 27 Feb. 2006

37. Grand Text Auto San Andreas
University of California, Irvine, CA. 5 Oct. 2007.
(performance and gallery exhibition)

38. Columbia College
Chicago, IL 2008.
Watch the video online.

39. University of Illinois
College of Fine and Applied Arts, 2009

The Unknown Australian Tour
Winter 2029


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The Unknown at Spineless Books.