All posts by Edward Wagner

Our Hands

Our Hands takes the reader on a journey to different parts of the world to experience the different kinds of pollution and environmental harm present in our modern world. All of this is real based on actual places dealing or having dealt with these actual situations. You can travel to a beach in NJ, the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, China, Antarctica, Africa or Australia to see first hand the damage thats been done to the environment and the terrible things that continue to occur. This piece is in no way meant to offend anyone or have anyone feel attacked or targeted based on their individual actions or businesses, products or beliefs supported. In many parts of my piece, however, it is designed to make the reader uncomfortable with the situation. It is accessible through a series of hyperlinks designed through Twine.

file:///Users/edwardwagner/Desktop/Our%20Hands.html

I really like how my piece turned out. YouTube “how-to’s” were my bible in figuring out how to do the coding and picture additions. I’m not tech-savvy so I was struggling at first! As I said in my intro, I didn’t want anyone to be offended by my piece or think I’m targeting anyone but I definitely had a goal of making the reader uncomfortable with the situations, locations and poetry I exposed them to and put them through because (1) this stuff is real and happening too frequently and (2) it should make people uncomfortable.

I also made the piece that you may have to go through multiple times in order to visit all 8 destinations because I wanted the reader to be in control and I didn’t want everyone to experience the same progression in the same order.

Many times when I started writing the poems, I got side tracked or tried to go off and mention too many points or bring up too many ideas so the poetry was something I tried to revise and thin down to focus on the main issue in that environment and only focus on that single aspect. Also when it came to “coding” and learning from YouTube the different ways to add different elements and making my piece navigable, I often got distracted, discouraged and overwhelmed but I think overall, my piece came out how I wanted it to and serves the important job of informing and leaves the reader with some feeling of hope and a motivation to better the world we live in!

Progress

I feel like I’m in a better place with the project than I was last week. I’ve decided to use Twine because it is easy to navigate and input text without too much use of coding. Coding is my nightmare so as mush as I can avoid, I will!

I accidentally took a course at Kean called Computing in Modern Society. I misread and thought it was Technology in Modern Society and thought it would be interesting and fun about modern day technology but instead it was a class on coding. I took no knowledge away from the class and struggled the whole semester. Youtube and Google were my saving grace!

That being said, I’ve made a decent amount of progress in writing my poems and putting them into the system. I am in the process of learning how to input photos and maybe some audio. We’ll see how much I can learn in the remaining time

The Beginning

My ELIT piece will be a series of poems focusing on pollution and littering. My running title is “Our Hands.” It will focus on different kinds of pollution and littering around the world going to locations such as a New Jersey beach, the rainforest, street gutters, littering, wildfire, ice caps and air pollution. I want to use hyperlinks to allow the user to navigate where they go, possibly on a world map. I’d like to include audio, pictures and maybe videos. I like the structure of the ELIT pieces we covered that felt like a video game rather than a true or more direct story. I’d like the reader to make decisions on what piece they experience next.

This past week I’ve been trying to start the poems and get the basic idea of the storyline down and some sort of structure to how the piece will run. I am struggling with finding a site to start the actual making of the piece. I’m not great with technology so the construction of the story and inputting my ideas makes me nervous but I’m hoping the next few classes will help me nail down a site/platform to use.

‘Hunt for the Gay Planet’ by Anna Anthropy

‘Hunt for the Gay Planet’ by Anna Anthropy is a easily navigated satire that is full of twists, decisions, humor and exploration. This piece creates a world where gay people aren’t understood and, in order to be comfortable and live happily, have to find another planet to be openly gay and truly themselves. While this piece uses satire to express the topic, I think there is also a commentary. Gay people are often ostracized because of who they are in our world today. When I thought about living in the year 2020 ten years ago, I thought we would have cars that float and a pill that lets you live forever. I didn’t think we’d still be living in conditions where LGBTQ+ or people of color have to fight for their rights to simply exist in the same way straight white people have forever. I think this piece does a beautiful job of mastering and controlling satire while also making a modern day comment on the topic.

With your spaceship, your “star poncho,” and some potentially gay tools, you have to set off to find the gay planet. The first two planets seem abandoned and not the right fit for the character. The third is perfect with an emerald island with a bobbing sea and the grass “nuzzles your ankles like a thousand kittens.” Seems nice! There’s a huge whale with psychic abilities. Casual. But bad news about the psychic whale, it assumes you’re straight. I hate when that happens! Next you get to go to a bar and get buzzed when the bartender points you to Lesbionica. I like how excited the character gets when they believe they’ve finally found Lesbionica. With their heart beating and the nervous jitters, the enthusiasm of the character can’t help but rub off on the player/reader. Lesbionica is nothing like the character thought it would. It’s dark and dirty and people show their passion right on the street. Cops kidnap the character and Trudie to be the Queens new “slutdancers.” We learn from the Queen that gay women are limited to this planet because the Queen got money, weapons and technology. The Federation is scared and threatened by gay people and so they limit them to one planet. Just when I’m thinking there’s not enough action in this piece, the character gets to choke out a queen. With that, you are the new Queen and plan to begin a conquest of the galaxy.

I really enjoyed this piece, the story was engaging, the decisions were fun and the message and ideas we well formed and explored.

Thoughts on ‘RedShift and Portalmetal’ by Micha Cardenas

The colors and sound of this piece are very flowing, calm and soothing yet the many parts evoke fear and anxiety such as the part when the player waits for the guards to give the passport back or moving to and navigating through a new planet. One part that stood out to me is when Cardenas said “We have found ways to shift the light in the air around us, so at times we can be completely invisible.” Trans women of color sometimes feel safer being invisible and unnoticed by “checkpoints” or even their own communities yet are very visible to each other and appreciate and learn from each other. I like the connection to jewelry whether it’s necklaces, bracelets or bangles, they are a symbol of power and heritage. The player must navigate safely through the different planets in search for the right fit and a place where Roja can call home both physically and emotionally.

Another sad moment is when Cardenas says “We no longer have the luxury of expression for representation into a coherent system, we now simply make choices for survival.” That the colored trans community feels they don’t get a voice or freedom of expression because they have to focus on getting by and simply existing is a struggle.

I also find the use of time and travel interesting in this piece. I find the following quote interesting and powerful.

“Prayer for decolonial time travel.

In whatever form you find best,

draw a clock that indicates,

time of death,

time of rebirth,

time of transformation,

time of love,

time of relationship conflict,

time of loss,

time of prayer,

time of dreams,

time of moonlight on water,

time of green sunlight through leaves,

time of the dream of a new child.”

The phrasing of this quote is so intentionally specific and structured.

I think this piece gives the reader a glimpse as to what life is like as a colored trans women and for me evoked a sense of sympathy from the points presented

‘Letter to Linus’ by William Gillespie

I found this piece super easy to navigate. This piece uses cubes and key words for navigation, transitions and segways into other topics. I love the emphasis on language in this piece and the idea that language can be dangerous and is the root or a tool of danger and harm but it also can be used for art (graffiti), thought and change. During the early 1900s, the Soviet Union didn’t have a word for ‘revolution’ and other words like it. The thought behind this is that if there is no word to use to start a revolution, it can’t happen. You can have the idea to violently start change but without using words related to the subject of revolution, you can’t describe it. This would allow the government to do whatever they want and treat their citizens poorly because they couldn’t communicate or associate their feelings with the word ‘revolution.’

This poem also has a lot of powerful quotes and ideas. (1) “Your mind is a construct of the world” rather than the world being a construct of your mind. (2) “Because language is the most powerful tool in the world.” Weapons or objects tend to only cause temporary physical pain. Words can follow a person for a lifetime. Words could also inspire change and development for the better or worse

Set in a dystopian world where language is a weapon and dialogue can’t be had without the ringing of gunfire, this poem uses language into a gift to be given or a weapon to be used, like an object that evolves ideas. I found this piece a little hard to make, build or follow a central plot. I’m not sure if there is an order to this piece. I’m thinking rather it uses the disorganization of the poetry and pages to develop the idea that the world where this takes place isn’t organized or structured but random and sporadic, dystopian and unleveled.

“Inanimate Alice” by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph

“Inanimate Alice” by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph is one of my favorite pieces we’ve reviewed thus far. This piece is a video game and relies on the reader to navigate through Alice’s life and the maze inside the building. The story follows Alice, a young girl from China now living in England. Alice is trying to get to the top of the building to see the view of the city when the metal steps fall apart. Alice’s journey and life are exposed through a series of pictures, diagrams and snapshots which lend themselves to support that she is artistic and appreciates the visuals of the world. This is also supported through graffiti, pictures and her burning desire to see the world from the rooftop. The snapshot pictures also play a significant role because many are introduced and shown after the steps fall apart and before the maze. Alice, between these two sections, says “And now I’m going to die.” I interpreted the snapshots as her life flashing before her eyes before recognizing that she is in danger of dying. 

Alice seems to appreciate the little things around her life in England. Her family has to go through her room to get to their only bathroom, but Alice “kind of likes” the house and the idea of staying there. Despite her family not enjoying living there, Alice likes it. Alice also likes the weeks that grow in the crack on their pavement, the old, rickety buildings. At school, many of Alice’s classmates and friends are from different countries and she seems to celebrate and appreciate this. 

I love that the story ends with Alice seeing the view, appreciating the view and saying that the world is hers from that view. After the terror and hard work Alice exert just to see the view she is finally able to get there and be supported by her friends

I think a topic that is recurring in the ELIT pieces we cover is mindfulness, being aware and appreciative of your surroundings and being grateful and conscious of little things. I’m not sure if that’s just in my reading of the texts, in the way I interpret meanings or if it is genuinely just a major topic for ELIT but it’s worth noting and learning from.

“Pieces of Herself” by Juliet Davis

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.

“Tropes” and “BOTS”

The opening of “Trope” gives me a futuristic, dystopian, technological feeling containing a lot of electronic sound effects and scattered poems or comments. I had a constant fear that something was going to pop out from the black screen. The whispering and static noise gives me a sense of unease. The best word I can use to describe this experience is sporadic and haunting. By the time you’ve made sense of one comment, noise or song and come to terms with it, the audio has changed to fireworks, a song, a whisper of a poem, ominous music or a clip from the radio.

This piece emphasizes the point many people in class have been stating; that we shouldn’t try to make sense of a piece of elit but rather allow the experience to occur and exist without applying real world rationalization.

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I navigated BOTS correctly so I am going to reserve my thoughts on the program.