Category Archives: student blogs

~ Pieces of Herself ~

pieces-poem

I found the concept for this particular feminist piece of E Literature by Juliet Davis to be very interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed navigating the piece as the reader is prompted to search for the hidden colorful objects in various areas and place them on a silhouette of a woman’s body to the lefthand side of the screen. What is very interesting is the fact that none of the pieces are able to be removed once they are placed in whatever respective areas the reader chooses to put them down. By the end of the piece, then, the reader ultimately “makes” the woman into whatever he/she chooses instead of the woman being able to piece herself back together and “find herself” as she says she has set out to do before the piece begins. A women’s identity in society is very much socially constructed to the point where what can come of the woman is nothing more but a sense of brokenness and deterioration.

Everything that a woman can experience, whether it be heartbreak or a struggle with personal insecurities and body image is practically inscribed on her and carved into her from birth. The apple on the tree outside alludes to a man ruling over a woman, which is a concept that was very much socially acceptable for centuries really climaxing in the 50s as the man was seen as the dominant figure and the head of a household. A woman’s life was lead in such a way to prepare her for taking care of her children, her home, and catering to her husband; Unfortunately, there wasn’t much else to aspire to as women did not have a very dominant role in too many other things. The emotion of this piece was increasingly heightened as some of the hidden objects played music. When the clip of “Que Sera Sera” started, it was extremely despairing as it confirms the very miserable existence the woman in the piece (representing many) had. Whatever will be… will be and there wasn’t much a motive to do anything else. She lives for putting others before herself.

I was intrigued in certain scenes by the different actions that would take place as the mouse rolled over the different sections of the screen. There was an area in the kitchen where the reader could roll over and it would tuck in the chair at the dinner table, which I thought to be an allusion to the way women were trained to act and carry themselves regarding table manners or mannerisms in general. Sayings like “Don’t forget to wash your hands” ring throughout the piece more than once like a broken record. The piece itself is described as a polemic on the information page when the world is first entered. This idea made me wonder if the author was going for a very clear understanding that this piece could be a sarcastic take on societies very outward exhibition of a women’s contempt, or if it is just an attack on the views put onto women by society. All in all, it is evident that the woman and women in general are in pieces and never quite put back together in a sound way from all that is endured, leaving the end result to be complex and in some ways very disturbing.

 

Tool Testing: I ended up going through the list on the course’s website to get a feel for what each tool is for and what it can do. Thing link is very interesting and can come in handy if I would like to put text over a map maybe, but as far as testing something out I stuck with Powerpoint this week. I know that there is so much that I can do with it, but I still have a lot of playing around to do with the program to get to a point where I may be comfortable using it to create my entire project. Some of the different effects with fading and moving text may be hard to do in Powerpoint with the way that I am seeing it in my head. I know that there’s an ability to fade things in and out and video shouldn’t be a problem unless I create one and it decides not to play on other devices when people try to access my piece. The strongest impressions made on me so far from the pieces we have seen (regarding the components that make it up and how the piece is navigated through) is Like Stars in a Night Sky and High Muck a Muck. I do not wish to achieve exactly what is done in these pieces in just this one project for the semester, but I want to find a way to emulate them with my spin on it (if that makes sense). I’m thinking some of the most prominent aspects of my piece will be visuals, video, and narration. Powerpoint should have the ability to do all of those I guess, but as aforementioned, I will have to play around with it more because I am honestly unsure at the moment if it is what I would like to work with. I do recognize that it is a powerful tool, though, and I am in no way casting it off. I just want to explore more options.


"Pieces of Herself"

Before experiencing this piece of electronic literature, I thought that the premise of the narrative was going to be much darker, so to say. I loved that it still touched on concepts of gender identity and social construction of what a woman is "seen as," and I think that the paper doll idea was very creative and effective in showing these "tangible" pieces. However, I thought that the "pieces" of this woman were going to be picked up after possibly having a traumatic event, namely something sexual, and putting herself slowly together in order to reclaim her own identity.

While I enjoyed the piece, I wish Juliet Davis would have done more. I think she could have inherently gone further with the idea. For example, I thought that biblical verse about the "job of women" was particularly chilling and effective, and I wish there were more glimpses of dark societal moments and presumptions about what it is to be female throughout. I felt like she held something back. Still, the sound bytes of the different interviews with women, especially in the office, were effective in adding to the tone of the piece; again, though, I wish we would have seen more of that.

For my own project for Elit, I tried to experiment with inklewriter, thinglink, and popcorn maker, but none of those programs were what I wanted to convey my story. Instead, I have decided to do it all through wix, since I think I will be able to actually imagine my ideas through the website, even if I have to implement coding to get certain effects for my navigational elements.


Wix allows me to create icons and have lightboxes and different elements pop up without necessarily leaving the page. I want it to look like a desktop background, and have icons the reader is able to explore to "experience" this romance I am writing. Additionally, I have done further storyboarding for the story, and I'm excited to develop it more. I don't want to give too much away, but it will definitely have a darker twist to it - nothing will appear as it is on the surface, and the reader will have to click on things to really uncover the true narrative going on. I know that sounds vague, but I promise! It'll be great. 

E-Lit Storyboard

This story is about how a father and teenage son communicate (or fail to communicate). It is important because it will illustrate how music and lyrics can both separate the generations but can also bring generations together. It will also show how music and lyrics can help speak for us, can help us channel our emotions and can help us express our true feelings.

The two main characters in the story will be the father and son. Both will appear as either sketch drawings or as guitars (appropriate for the type of music they represent). I’m thinking hard rock/metal for the boy and more of a 50’s R&B or blues for the father)  An image of the two of them can be the home page.

There will be multiple settings.  The first will be a living room/domestic setting (perhaps a dinner table) that will position the two main characters as adversaries.

The second will be a concert hall – the ultimate destination for the teen and the cause of the argument/conflict between him and his father.

The third will be back in the domestic setting where the two will find common ground through a shared love of a certain type of music, serving to heal their rift.

There will be non-linear aspects of this – each based around music, giving the person exploring the story more insight into the two characters. They can be stills (with audio? with text?) showing how music fits into their lives. For example, still photos of man and wife at a concert – telling story of how they met with a song playing…. For the son, a picture from behind the wheel, a story of learning to drive and the song that was on the radio….

They can be accessed through various icons distributed through the story

The scene at the concert hall will include more audio – possibly guitar solo’s

It will include text indicating that the son is feeling guilty/frustrated about arguing with his father

I believe this story is best told through still photos, audio, text and possibly GIF’s.

Direct interactions between father and son will be represented by clips of music videos/live performances – isolating lyrics that are meaningful to the interaction

Additional information will be accessed through icons around the screen – they will be still photos with text and possible audio (perhaps just music, no lyrics).  Some can be GIF’s of scenes from a video or a concert if they accurately convey a situation/interaction or an emotion

The concert scene can include clips of video (and audio) or GIF’s.

No need for a map with this story.

It is essentially linear storytelling in that there will be the home scene that advances to the concert scene and then advances to the home scene again for resolution, but within those scenes, the viewer will have free rein as to how they proceed through the icons.  Although I wish I could, I do not anticipate being able to arrange the sound clips from the two main characters in a way that one can trigger a response from the other. The goal will be that they are in two randomly generated sets – one set accessed by clicking the father’s icon and the other set accessed by clicking the son’s icon.

elitsketch-copy

sketch2

Another option is to use the following icons as cursors to represent the father or the son and they elicit different responses from the items depending on which one you use

 

 


Blog Post #5: Review of “Pieces of Herself”

poh

Starting this piece I was very confused as to where the actual literature or you can say “writing” was located in this piece. Clicking through the different portals I was pretty confused on what was going on until I realized that there were descriptions on the top right of each portal. As I began to drag things to the woman’s body as instructed, I thought that something would come out of it.

The only thing I got out of it was a deeper message. The author explores a woman’s body through nodes of exploratory context of home, work, and community. As you click and drag nodes onto the woman’s body you can see the meaning behind where the items being dragged plays a deeper meaning towards the empowerment of women.

This interactive drag and drop game explores the embodiment and feminine identity. As an advocate of women empowerment, I very much appreciated the feminine aspect of how powerful the meaning behind the drag and drops nodes had. For example, there was a node of a brain to drag meaning education and/or intelligence. Another node that stood out to me was the finger prints. To me embodied somewhat of an identity.

 

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All in all, this piece was powerful in the sense of a deeper message, granted it was a little confusing towards the beginning and this is definitely not for simple minded people. Pieces that allow my mind to get stimulated are always good in my opinion.


Blog # 5: Review of Pieces of Herself

 


The first time I explored this piece was at the beginning of the semester. I found it to be a lot less enjoyable than my other readings. Although some of the other readings lacked the traditional beginning, middle and end, most of them still contained a story. Pieces of Herself has the reader do alot more self interpretation about the piece. The strongest part of the piece is when the beginning states "her friends said she needed to "find" herself. And sure enough, when she started looking, she found pieces of herself everywhere."

When I first went through the story, I felt just thrown in and just started moving things around. I thought it was pretty cool that I could drop the things on the figure but I expected a particular design and for everything to fit at once. I guess that's like my experience reading e-lit. I have been taking pieces and interpreting them piece by piece and determining how they connect with each other.

Upon a second walk through, I noticed that there are actually instructions at the bottom on how to play and it states its a game. I am not sure if I noticed that the first time but nevertheless it helps to know that. I think the voice and music were really random. Sometimes if you pressed one thing and then moved around a little and then you wouldn't hear her properly because of layered noises. At one point I pressed the apple and a preacher was telling the story of Adam and Eve and I moved my screen over to the truck and a loud song started playing and I could no longer hear the preacher. I kept looking for signs I'm on the right track and didn't leave anything behind.

Sometimes I liked the little parts of songs that would play. I had to download All I have to do is dream by Everly Brothers after playing the game. I felt at times I needed patience to make sure I heard everything an item may contribute to the story. I especially couldn't continue once I heard a song playing. Sometimes the multiple noises were annoying.

The piece reminded me about a discussion that was held in one of my classes. Basically, we talked about how we have so many roles as human beings and we have to continuously adopt all the time. In this walkthrough experience I could hear the previous things I had pressed-the frog making noises and water dropping. Even though I couldn't hear the author talking anymore I still could remember all the things she has floating around in her body as she travels different places. I think this would make a nice short film. The funniest part to me was the one boob on the building and how she spoke about cleavage. Once you finished,that was it. I didn't really like that but that's a common thing in e-lit.
Here's my finished figure below:


Blog #5- Pieces of Herself

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http://elit.umwblogs.org/2012/02/23/pieces-of-herself-by-juliet-davis/

Piecing Together the “Pieces of Herself”

            Pieces of Herself by Juliet Davis captivates the awareness of feminism and gender identification through the unknown character’s eyes and the public’s eyes in multiple settings surrounding a person’s everyday life. This piece of electronic literature is described as “ironic” and “playful,” in which Davis uses interactive digital media to convey her message to the reader. This person remains nameless throughout the story in an attempt to reconstruct her lost identity using drag and drop to help “dress- up” the doll that appears only as a silhouette in order to maintain that idea of hidden emptiness.

When first entering Pieces of Herself, a text slowly popped up line-by-line, stating, “Her friends said she needed to “find” herself And sure enough, when she started looking, she found pieces of herself everywhere…” This line automatically made me realize that this piece of electronic literature would be more interactive with the reader more than anything else. The first place the story takes you to is the bathroom and as the screen appears there is an awful, loud sound that appears simultaneously. That sound is short, but undoubtedly grabs your attention from the start. Realizing this, I knew that sound/noise would be an essential part of this piece.

While exploring the rest of the story, I noticed that the overwhelming noises coming from different items I either scrolled over or clicked and dragged in order to move from the scene to the doll were beyond frustrating. Once listening closely to those sounds I came to realize not only of the importance of the meaning of each individual sound, but the fact that they looped around or played once and stopped was just as significant. For example, the floating journal scribbling’s represented heartbreak and the statements of her wishing her children to have the best and trying to hide herself at work in order to avoid harassment was a representation of regret. These repeating sounds, noises, and music all symbolize a complex, conflicting and distraught human being. What I found to be an unsatisfying experience was the attempt in listening to the different sounds, one would override another and it made it almost impossible to hear anything. I assume that is what the author wanted the reader to have to go through in order for the reader to understand the character’s emotional distress.

After exploring other readers from different sites, I have come to understand their viewpoint of certain aspects. There were a few different articles discussing the “ending” of this story. As one person described the ending, they stated that Pieces of Herself stopped when the reader collects and/or triggers all objects that appear in each scene. Another person argues that there is no true resolution in which no one truly understands himself or herself and people constantly change while facing new conflicts. A third person claims the story cannot be viewed as “singular” or as a clear picture, just as life itself. I agree with all of these opinions because when it comes to reading electronic literature or any literature for that matter, it comes down to the reader’s thoughts and views on that specific piece.

Generally, I would describe Pieces of Herself as an outrageous and overpowering piece of electronic literature. Davis was able to captivate the reader’s usual way of perceiving their normal, everyday scenery and rationalizing certain images of items from something so “outside of the box” and turning it into a relatable object. As the reader, I was capable of getting through this seemingly irritating and bothersome piece, in order to obtain my goal of understanding what Davis was trying to demonstrate. People living their everyday lives with their everyday friends/family, living in their everyday homes and showing up to their everyday jobs may come off a certain way, but on the inside may be struggling with who they really are or what they can really be. The goal is to explore everything around you until you find out exactly what does and does not work for you, just like in Pieces of Herself.


Pieces of Herself

“Pieces of Herself” is an obviously feminist e-lit narrative that utilizes multimedia (still imagery, moving video and audio clips) to illustrate different ways that women see themselves against a backdrop of an idealized American culture. I felt that this was a unique way of exploring the female character, in that it allowed me to go step by step, using different environments to help me understand how women see themselves in relation to those environments. I’m sure that my female colleagues will see this interactive differently than I do and it will be interesting to see how it plays out in class.

The opening imagery is small – almost like a doorway. The way the images can be slid across the screen and transferred to the cutout of a person made me think of germs (especially in the bathroom) and I thought that the metaphor was somewhat apropos in that the imagery piled up. It was as if the aspects of their character (as discovered in the various environments) became stuck to them and difficult to shake. A lot of the symbolism and clips referenced self-doubt or personal insecurities, particularly about their bodies. One clip referenced gray hair, another referenced not wanting her children to see her naked. Interesting that you don’t actually see any women at any point in the entire narrative except for the back of one woman in the bathroom scene.  In the bedroom, the references are to a woman who is missing (either physically or mentally) and the voice of a man is predominant.  There is nothing sexual or intimate or romantic or even very personal about the bedroom scene which I found interesting. In fact, the imagery seemed very impersonal although the audio clips were.

 

Going outside, we see a number of what I believe are “beginning of life” references – the baby, the monkey that turns into a man (a symbol of evolution), the apple in the tree that meshes with the church.  (The apple reveals a sermon about conception – talks about pain and a man ruling over her – not a very uplifting message about having kids and a family.) The song, “Que Sera Sera”, I took as channeling a woman’s mindset of saying whatever will be will be as it pertains to actually having a child. The imagery here is kind of a standard checklist of the bedrock of American family life – the 4×4, the flag, the house with the basketball net (implying a family) and the playground for kids. But the audio clips – both from the sermon which talks about the man ruling over the woman and the woman saying “i always said i would give my child the best that i could possibly give them” – seem to position the woman as subservient to her environment, even her family, putting the husband and the children first. In fact, the statement from the woman felt to me to be as much a promise from the protagonist as a challenge to her – making her feel guilty about the possibility that she wont be able to fulfill that promise.

 

In the kitchen, the voices that speak – the one talking about a recipe and the one talking about wanting to be spicy – sound like voices channeling the voice or thoughts of the so-called ideal wife and mother – appealing to her husband and making something delicious for the family. (also telling her kid to wash their hands and talking about underwear that makes her look skinny revisits the idea of body consciousness)  The imagery is all black-and-white – giving it a very 50’s feel – a time in America when the family units were elevated and expectations for husbands and wives were more (publicly) clear-cut.  I get the sense that those are the expectations that some women believe they are still fighting against.

In the living room, the clip is of an contrary view in which the woman goes through a whole list of what she wears and what she drives but says none of it matters to her. The whole thing is rather contradictory. A note that none of the environments represented are overly lavish. The fact that the TV is tuned to Oprah speaks to the middle class and middle class striving to have more, even while (as the woman does in the clip) saying that material goods don’t really mean anything.  I don’t think we can take her statement at face value. The sex toy under the pillow adds an interesting wrinkle – hiding something they are ashamed of?

In the office, its about limitations for women – not being able to show emotion.  I found it fascinating that the spine and brain are located here in the office, not at home. In other words, the office is where the spine and brain come in handy or get used, not at home. But there is imagery here that speaks to the outdated old-fashioned roles for women in the workplace as well – the desk and the filing cabinet, for example. The dialogue box here says “where she fought to keep them all”, which I took to reference the difficulty in balancing all of her tasks, both at work and at home.

Outside  again, we hear a teacher talking about how education tends to take a back seat to social issues – like looks. There’s imagery here to back that up, including the image of a breast at Dairy Queen where the message is about girl trying to be beautiful or attractive in social situations.  I wondered here if the author was remembering how it was in high school for her – or is it an “idealized” or stereotypical version of what’s going on in American high schools across the country.  This was not quite as groundbreaking to me – the imagery and message was more blunt than it was in other scenes, although the idea that looks are prioritized over education in the minds of women and girls is a troubling one (and all too prevalent I’m sure).

I found this to be an extraordinary way to demonstrate how women see themselves personally and their place in American culture. In addition, it seems to me that the point of doing this was to show how women continue to fight against outdated stereotypes, even if in some cases it is women themselves consciously or unconsciously fulfilling or perpetuating them. I thought that this was less e-literature (there’s very little writing) and more of a multimedia presentation, but it made great use of – not only imagery and sound – but color, image positioning, backgrounds, etc…

 


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.

Response to "Inanimate Alice" Episode 4

By far, this has been the most game-based piece of electronic literature in class that we have read so far. Ultimately, this episode of "Inanimate Alice" is highly visual and has a lot of emphasis on using first person POV through out its video game-esque narrative. The author uses a lot of real life photographs to build up the setting that is essentially all around you, and even incorporates an element of self-exploration to navigate the end of the story. It's a choose-your-own-adventure without words, and acts as if you're exploring the world inside of a video game, which is definitely a neat element to add to the multidimensional feel that elit allows the reader.

However, the question of electronic literature truly being "literally" can truly be contested here. Since it relies so much of techniques associated with gaming, as well as visuals (pictures, ect.,) does it stay consistent with what classifies something as literature?

In my opinion, yes, I do find this piece literary, but I don't think I would have if I did not make a mistake first.

Originally, I was under the impression we were reading "Inanimate Alice" from the beginning; thus, I started with episode one, which I felt was less like a video game and more like a story. The plot was simple: Alice's dad gets lost, and she and her mom, Ming, get into their jeep to search for them... Does that sound familiar? What struck me most about "Episode 4" was that it shows its complexity as a piece of literature by introducing intertextuality. When in England, Alice's friends ask her to make stories of them, and she shows them how easy "storytelling" and making them can be. As an example, she subtly references the plot of the first episode, but the way she does it makes seem as if, maybe, it had never really happened to her...

Alice, then, becomes this unreliable narrator, and now the reader is more closely reading the text of this fluctuating storyline. We are analyzing her words and trying to make connections and critical analyses of the narrative. Additionally, her friend "Brad" follows her to the fourth episode, the imaginary one she drew back in episode one, and acts as an imaginary friend and "guardian" of sorts. It adds more depth and complexity then just being a shallowly visual experience - for me, it makes me question who Alice is, why she is "inanimate"; ultimately, the question of what is real and what isn't within the story keeps the audience on their toes, and becomes a driving motivation to read the piece of electronic literature.