On “Inanimate Alice” and making elit….

imagesThanks Richonda for an excellent walkthrough of the seminal #elit text Inanimate Alice Vol. 4.  A multilayered episodic story about a young girl who grows up in varying spots on the globe, this multimodal combination of text, sound, video, and imagery has been an exemplar of digital storytelling. In the fourth episode of Alice’s overall journey, she is fourteen years old and living in a small town in the middle of England. Her first real friends have dared her to climb to the top of an abandoned building which supposedly has a great view of the whole town from the top. Alice accepts the dare. As she climbs to the top and the stairs give way. She narrowly misses falling, and is stuck at the top of the building with no clear way out.  Alice is frightened, and she must navigate her way out of this dark unknown place.  We navigate with/for Alice, and we “play the game” until we can find our way out of the abandoned warehouse.  Brad (Alice’s imaginary digital friend) is a help if we decide to “use” him for guidance during our journey to the top of the building.  The soundtrack and imagery set a foreboding and dangerous tone, along the way highlighting glimpses of surprising beauty in an overall industrial wasteland.  Alice has a way of finding the silver lining in her surroundings and her situation.  She is a sojourner who survives despite the constrained context(s) she find herself in.

UnknownIt was interesting to think about the resonance of the title for this piece (an illusion to “Alice in Wonderland” of course, as well as the inherent provocation as we think about what is “inanimate”).  We discussed the unique affordances of the “gameplay” version of the story’s conclusion verses the other choice to just read through the factory exploration.  The gamed version is more interactive, and as a result, perhaps the navigator/reader is given a more “empathetic lens” into Alice’s trials.  We also discussed the way in which this work has been a catalyst for many discussions regarding both digital literacy and globalization.  What is striking about this piece is the strong desire to really know Alice.  While we do not know what she looks like, or anything beyond the very basic facts of her transient life, we are still drawn to this character through a skilful and dynamic portrayal of her inner workings.  The textual, visual and auditory aspects of this digital novel work in powerful tandem – the reader discovers the important role technology has to play not simply in viewing a text, but in forming a more complex and intimate relationship with a character.

For next week:

Nadia will present and walk us through Pieces of Herself by Juliet Davis.  Your blog post should have two components this coming week -a reflection on the reading, and -a storyboard or a review of a new digital tool:

 1.  Please post your thoughts/reflection on the reading Pieces of Herself.  

2.  In addition, you have a choice between two different activities for next week’s class.  Please choose one of the following two activities:  -You can post your initial storyboard concept for your own elit piece.  Please reflect on the storyboard as you have mapped it out, and what you have learned in the process of producing it.  -You can post a summary of your “tinkering session” with a new digital tool you are considering for the production of your elit piece.  Please include a review of what you learned when exploring and playing with the new tool, and reflect on whether or not the digital tool will be helpful to you in making your own piece.  You can choose from the list of digital tools, or explore any other tools that have come to your attention.

I look forward to reading about your ongoing exploration.

See you soon,

Dr. Zamora

 

Pieces of Herself– Juliet Davis

Juliet Davis's Pieces of Herself is introduced by the Electronic Literature Collection as being a piece that "uses the motif of the dress-up doll to explore issues of gender identity in the context of home, work, and community". Davis adds in the author's note that her work "is an exploration of feminine embodiment...in relationship to public and private space".

The piece is essentially a drag-and-drop gaming experience. It plays on color as well. The background for each scene is black and white, while the game pieces are very colorful. The reader must use the mouse as if they were taking a virtual tour of the scenes. When the pointer rolls over a game piece, it becomes visible, and the reader can click and drag in order to place it on the black and white outline of a body, which is located on the left-hand side of the screen.

The game pieces trigger sound bytes and short clips of interviews. Sometimes there is only a brief, animated sounding noise, while at other times, the sound repeats itself until he user leaves the game. The repetitive sounds that I encountered were of a frog croaking, a drip of water, and the sound of something being dunked aggressively into water. These sounds become distracting and annoying at times. Towards the end of the game, when all three where playing at once, it was more difficult to concentrate on the other audio clips.

In the game, there are seven scenes: Shower, Bedroom, Outside, Kitchen, Living Room, Office, and Main Street. In addition to the game pieces, each of the scenes contained moving images, songs, and sounds that were activated by dragging the mouse over them. In the living room, the TV played Oprah; An answering machine in the bedroom played messages.

In terms of grasping the theme of the piece, the interview clips were most enlightening. The women talk about body image, about graying hair, and overpriced clothes. One woman discusses how the expensive clothes and jewelry that she wears makes people think a certain way about her, but she isn't that person. They person that she is on the outside is not who she is on the inside.

In one scene, there is a sound clip of a man reading a Bible passage about a woman's place in society. One interview clip is simply a woman's voice saying, "He said he loved me". Another sound byte in the office scene notes that emotions have no place in the workplace.

This piece makes the reader think about all the parts that make you who you are-- all of the pieces of self. Who are you? Are you one person in one context and a completely different person in another? Who are you seen as?

This piece has no real, solid ending, and I think that is done with purpose. This is the type of piece that you should spend time thinking about long after you've finished reading it.

Pieces of Herself– Juliet Davis

Juliet Davis's Pieces of Herself is introduced by the Electronic Literature Collection as being a piece that "uses the motif of the dress-up doll to explore issues of gender identity in the context of home, work, and community". Davis adds in the author's note that her work "is an exploration of feminine embodiment...in relationship to public and private space".

The piece is essentially a drag-and-drop gaming experience. It plays on color as well. The background for each scene is black and white, while the game pieces are very colorful. The reader must use the mouse as if they were taking a virtual tour of the scenes. When the pointer rolls over a game piece, it becomes visible, and the reader can click and drag in order to place it on the black and white outline of a body, which is located on the left-hand side of the screen.

The game pieces trigger sound bytes and short clips of interviews. Sometimes there is only a brief, animated sounding noise, while at other times, the sound repeats itself until he user leaves the game. The repetitive sounds that I encountered were of a frog croaking, a drip of water, and the sound of something being dunked aggressively into water. These sounds become distracting and annoying at times. Towards the end of the game, when all three where playing at once, it was more difficult to concentrate on the other audio clips.

In the game, there are seven scenes: Shower, Bedroom, Outside, Kitchen, Living Room, Office, and Main Street. In addition to the game pieces, each of the scenes contained moving images, songs, and sounds that were activated by dragging the mouse over them. In the living room, the TV played Oprah; An answering machine in the bedroom played messages.

In terms of grasping the theme of the piece, the interview clips were most enlightening. The women talk about body image, about graying hair, and overpriced clothes. One woman discusses how the expensive clothes and jewelry that she wears makes people think a certain way about her, but she isn't that person. They person that she is on the outside is not who she is on the inside.

In one scene, there is a sound clip of a man reading a Bible passage about a woman's place in society. One interview clip is simply a woman's voice saying, "He said he loved me". Another sound byte in the office scene notes that emotions have no place in the workplace.

This piece makes the reader think about all the parts that make you who you are-- all of the pieces of self. Who are you? Are you one person in one context and a completely different person in another? Who are you seen as?

This piece has no real, solid ending, and I think that is done with purpose. This is the type of piece that you should spend time thinking about long after you've finished reading it.