We have seen some interesting kinds of electronic literature through this first part of our journey together, but I must admit, “Motions” to this point has been the most interesting one for me. It is unfortunate in a way that the subject matter is about people who find themselves in the middle of sex reade exho systems. With that being said, I think those who created this piece created a powerful tool for people to look at for some kind of understanding of their stories. The way the interface begins is telling the reader that you are on a train where you do not know the destination. From a literary and artistic perspective, I found this to be a key element that made this piece what it is. From the vantage point of the heavy subject matter that is sex trafficking and abuse, it was an imperative addition to create a steady uneasy feeling for the reader, as to kind of recreate some of the anxiety that might be coupled with going through a trauma like sex trafficking or slavery. As the reader continues through, the eerie music in the background really sets the scene. While navigating through these stories, the music adds the right noises to keep the reader on edge to really drive the effect home. I would say the same thing about the visuals in this piece. The intense imagery coupled with the uneasy music creates an effect that makes you feel as though you want to find your way out, but you know that the only way out is to continue through the rest of the reading. The substance of the reading itself was heartbreaking at times to hear some of these stories. In those moments with the music in the back, I could truly feel my heart begin to beat faster and faster. It is in these moments I think elit truly began to make sense to me. Not the the other literature we have explored were not good looks into it, nor were those who presented on them falling short, but this experience for I think drove home what the purpose of elit is and how the experience is far more than just the words on the screen. Some of the anecdotes themselves are eye opening and leave the reader reluctantly wanting to move forward. It also felt very fast paced as we were not being told one story necessarily, but rather we began this journey where we are hearing multiple stories in short order to create this tension that lasts the entire experience. To me, the fact that readings like this can illicit those kind of feelings in you as you read illustrates to me the power of elit and makes my mind wonder how else can we use this technology? This new way of reading touches the reader in a way normal literature cannot, and it is frankly a fun experience.
The Emotions Experiencing Motions
For this week’s blog post, I am going to share my experiences of the elit piece: Motions. I will first talk about the navigation of the site:
This elit piece was pretty easy to navigate through. I used my laptop to navigate through the piece, so I only needed your arrow keys to go back and forth through each page. The audio was a great concept in putting sound to setting. The audio was uncomfortable and kind of weird (alongside the images). The text itself was pretty easy to read and follow along, like a narrative. The way the images would appear in an order then in the next page with no order, puzzled me at first. But as I navigated through the rest of the site, I began to understand its purpose. The story is portraying the “journey” into child sex trafficing, the unknowning of where it will lead the children to.
Emotions felt throughout the experience
Even though the multimodal were great to experience, the general message of the piece is a sad reality. Throughout the piece we are given snippets of different ways on how human trafficking circles, internatioanlly. Sadly, many people are given false hopes and dreams that by living in that lifestyle, you will be able to survive. The image below snapped for the elit piece really hit home because I truly enjoy getting my nails done. Obviously this does not apply to every person of asian descent that does nails.. But this short passage makes you take it into consideration:
Connected with Pieces of Herself
The navigation of this site was really cool and interesting to mess around with! The drag and drop option of the pinup doll reminds me of the online game dress up I would play as a 10 year old (I can’t quite remember the name of the game)! But nonetheless, it was really fun to go through the day-to-day routine of feminism. It took me about four pass-throughs of the site to completely understand the navigation of the click and drag option (oh the fun of discovering/experiencing elit!). The navigation takes you to several day-to-day settings of the average person (but with a fminism/female perspective).
Emotions felt throughout the experience
I was able to personally connect with this elit piece, as sharing the commonality of identifying as a female. The most interesting aspect that took to me was during the scene of the church. The music that played in the background alongside the baby fetus (that was a bit creepy). But the song that was playing is a song I would sing to my residents at the nursing home! Interestingly enough, I am just realizing this song is addressing the aspirations of a girl dreaming to be a beautiful housewife. Below is a youtube video of the song:
My overall experience of this piece is that it was great to interact with this piece; audio, click and drag, multimodal. It was also interesting to experience as a female and comparing/contrasting my day-to-day life of what the interactive piece presents.
This week’s readings explore issues of womanhood, from the mundane grievances experienced by suburban housewifes to the horrifying reality that human trafficking victims face. Motions by Hazel Smith, Will Luers, and Roger Dean deals with the latter. Immediately, this piece confused me. At the start, text appears, telling me I’m on a train. The audio tells a different story—I hear the whining engine of an airplane and the distinctive ding of a fasten seat belt sign.
Soon, images appear, but they don’t clear things up; the pictures are up close, or blurred, or too abstract to make out. Lexias in different formats are arranged over the visuals: there’s plain white font, centered over blackness; white boxes with black borders, filled with plain black text; and large, floating, blue-gray words in different languages. The way the presentation of text switches, particularly the appearance of languages other than English, makes the reader feel a foreigner.
The content of these lexias adds to the puzzling experience. Some passages read like poetry, while others present statistics on human trafficking. The perspective shifts, too—distant third person recollections of facts and figures inform the reader about human trafficking on an academic level, while haunting first person accounts of abuse make the issue personal. There’s some second person, too, and lines like “Why did you agree to go with him?” sound almost accusatory and portray an attitude of victim blaming.
Like the text, the audio changes; hectic, fast-paced piano music plays, building to a suspenseful crescendo before it suddenly stops. Occasionally, harsh distortions accompany the text and images. The sounds create feelings of urgency and anxiety in the listener. All of these elements (the sound, the text, the images) make the readers feel—to at least a small extent—like they are trafficking victims going through a harrowing and confusing experience.
While Pieces of Herself by Juliet Davis can also be confusing at times, this text gives the reader a lot more agency and control of the narrative. In this piece, the readers travel through different rooms in a house, choosing the order in which they visit each location, and they can click and move certain objects on the screen. Interacting with certain images prompts audio, such as speech or music, to play. All of the manipulatives on screen are “pieces” that make up the woman whose silhouette keeps readers company throughout each room.
While the setting is more mundane than the heavy themes presented in Motion, the issues explored in Pieces are no less important. The piece contains commentary on a wide range of issues. For instance, an animated drop of blood over an American flag raises questions about our country’s checkered past (and present); a double helix strand of DNA in front of a child’s playground demonstrates the importance of passing parts of ourselves down to future generations; and a pink fetus over a cross portrays the conflicts between women’s rights and religion.
The most prevalent themes, however, are related to the many facets of womanhood. In the kitchen, which is traditionally a female space, there’s audio about pastry recipes that are passed down from mother to daughter and spoken reminders like “Don’t forget to wash your hands.” In the same room, clicking a birthday cake prompts audio of Marilyn Monroe’s sensual rendition of “Happy Birthday.” All of these audio files point to the wildly different expectations that are simultaneously placed on women: women must provide food and comfort, and they must teach their children how to behave, but they should also look their best while doing it.
There’s obviously so much more to explore with this piece, from the conundrum of being a woman in the workplace that’s touched on in the office room, to the exorbitant amounts of money women spend on their appearances that’s mentioned in the living room. However, the one thread that was present throughout was just how overwhelming, aggravating, and anxiety inducing being a woman can be.
The text depicts these frustrating feelings through a few incessant sounds. Occasionally, I’d click something, and the audio just wouldn’t stop. The drip-drop of water from a sink, or the splash of a spill in the kitchen, or, very bizarrely, the ribbit of a frog under the bedsheets followed me through the entirety of the piece. To be honest, I’m not sure what the deal is with the frog. Together, though, these sounds create a frustrating cacophony that reflects the overwhelming responsibilities and expectations that bombard women every waking moment of their lives.
Weirdly, this aspect of the piece reminds me of an episode of the Netflix show Bojack Horseman, in which Princess Carolyn, a cat who recently adopted a baby porcupine (just bear with me here, guys), struggles to find a balance between keeping her career and taking care of her new child. The sounds of her daily chores (feeding the baby, taking out the trash, making phone calls, etc.) join together to create a unique but stress-inducing soundtrack. If you’re interested, you should watch the full episode, as it has some great commentary on the struggles working mothers face, but if you’re not looking to binge a new show, here’s a brief clip illustrating what I mean. (The relevant bits are from about 7:50-8:30.)
Overall, Pieces of Herself and Motion are both deeply moving and thought provoking texts that explore very different perspectives of the struggles women face. Despite some confusion and frustration, I enjoyed reading the powerful themes present in both pieces.
Whether it’s a frog “ribbit,” an animated drawing or a cut of a song, Juliet Davis makes it clear that this piece really emphasizes the idea that each audio, picture or place is a part of who this person is and how they were shaped or influenced. I also find it interesting that only select sounds repeat.
I love the part in the Living Room where we hear that the woman didn’t pick things out based on price tags and even though she wears expensive items doesn’t mean that embodies who she is as a person.
I love how this piece provides different pieces of a person based on where they are. The way they act in their living room is going to be different from how they act in the office or in an outside environment.
I think this elit piece is so important and relevant. We don’t all collect the same pieces to shape us and we don’t all interact in certain spaces to help for who we are. Life is based on experience and what you’ve taken from those experiences.
This piece feels like a game of clue where you have to put together the clues you find and declare “It was Colonel Mustard in the library with the lead pipe.” I think it’s interesting that this piece is referred to as a game. It is a ‘create your own character’ kind of idea but doesn’t have the traditional standards that I’d classify as a game. I like that if you did not like the person you build, there was an option to erase and start over. I find this to be an interesting contrast between the experience of a game and how we navigate real life. In a game, when we don’t like our character or are struggling with a level, we can restart until we get it right. When we talk about real life, it’s difficult to “replay” or “erase” certain scenarios and get the outcome we want all the time. However these levels or challenges become a part of us and shape how we may handle that level or experience later on in life. I know I have learned more from my failure and struggle than I have from my successes. I think at the heart of this piece is the idea that struggle shapes us and imprints who we are and how we handle life.
How can one really describe or even articulate all that is Motions? The piece left me speechless. At the surface level, the elit text does a fantastic job of combining imagery, sound and text. Yet, underneath the surface, you quickly realize that this text is not fiction. It is real life. Real accounts by individuals who have been trafficked. Once I realized this, I shifted my focus from the layout of the piece to the actual text. The small excerpts weren’t enough. I wanted to know more. “Who’s talking?” “Who did this happen to?” “How did this happen?” As I continued navigating through the elit piece, my questions were answered. The excerpts that swayed from one corner of the screen to the other answered my questions. The imagery answered my questions. The sounds playing in the background answered my questions.
The text moves quickly, yet it covers so many topics that our society deems taboo. Human trafficking occurs more close and more frequently than we would like to admit. Whenever it is discussed, it is presented as an occurrence that only happens in foreign countries and that is completely out of our control. We never discuss the human trafficking that occurs right in our town and cities.
The text discusses human trafficking in relation to modern day slavery, sex work and domestic labor. If you pay attention closely, the text in the background provides accounts of the various pretense individuals were brought to different countries under. Some were promised the hope of becoming professional soccer players. Others were told they had nothing to lose by leaving their home countries; so why not leave? The dream of marriage and a better life were sold to others.
I can’t stop applauding the authors of Motions for creating such a poignant piece. When it comes to topics like Human Trafficking, our human instinct is to leave them alone and focus on things that are less sensitive. Yet the authors attack the topic head on and do an excellent job in the process.