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.
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.
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.
Inanimate Alice was probably my favorite Elit I have read so far. I love the flow of it and how you must get through one part in order to reach the next. Compared to other Elit pieces, this one was the least confusing and had a beginning, middle and end like most literature I read. I guess I am still in my comfort zone when it comes to a piece of literatures structure, but I am hoping by the end of the semester to come out of that comfort zone.
I believe the images/clips and sounds were the most important feature to this piece. The music would increase as the climax began to form and it would become silent at moments where you could picture Alice in this small, dark and scary place. The images basically told the entire story with only a few words when necessary and that is what I enjoy reading the most. I like when you can put a “face” to the “sounds.” I was a little confused as to why the story began with this girl who was about to die when the stairs collapsed as she was walking up them, but then I realized that when she started talking about her old life and discussing her new life, it was a flashback. I have always heard that right before you die you may see your entire life in a matter of seconds and that is what I thought was going on here. Alice was appreciating her past, even the parts that were not so great. She was especially fond of the present, well not the present of her almost dying, but the present of where her life was at at the moment.
I also enjoyed the story inside of the story which discussed Alice’s game that she created. A lot of the icons were clickable and made this more interesting and interactive. After Alice got back to talking about the present situation she was in and having to go through this place in order to survive, I found myself frustrated by getting the pointed fingers wrong in order to get out. Unlike Alice, as the reader, we did have an easy way out. We could simple “ask Brad” for the directions in order to leave, but unfortunately that is not how life really works. I tried to be in the moment and do it on my own, but after a while I had to come back to reality so I gave up and let Brad basically take control of the situation.
Overall, I really enjoyed this piece and it helped me into thinking more about my own piece of Elit that I would like to put together. This gave me the idea or theme about life in general and how we really do not have control over what happens, but at the same time our decisions effect our actions and how things turn out.
So for my Elit piece I was thinking that because we do not get to choose the lives we are born into, but we get to choose the decisions we make in our lives, I would have this huge dice to start off my piece in which there are 6 different types of life you can get when clicking and rolling the dice, whatever you get is what you are stuck with throughout the piece. 6 choices because the dice is 6 sided of course. Throughout the piece sometimes you have to keep rolling the dice and others you must choose a path indicating that sometimes we do have choices and sometimes things happen by chance or by luck. There will be several ending points depending on the choices you have made throughout this piece or your “life.” One will be death, another will be higher education or maybe being homeless or even starting a family. Your choices will lead you down this path, but the key is to answer and do things honestly. Like the way you would in real life. I want to use images, text and maybe some sound, but nothing too overwhelming.
It is because of readings like this one that I have learned to love eliterature. I am loving these readings that make me feel different emotions when navigating through. It was obvious hat Alice needed help throughout this story and I felt as if I was the only one who could be that person for her to help her. Thinking back, I wonder why I didn't feel pressured like maybe if I couldn't save her she would end up dying because of me. Instead, I was motivated because she kept popping up and it would remind me why I had to get through the story so that I could save her and keep her from falling. I enjoyed the fact that I was scared. The reading stimulated my emotions but it gave me a drive to want to finish. I was very intrigued. This has been the piece where I show most interest from start to finish. Inanimate Alice contained music that was fitting to the story. It was music I had never heard of before which helped me concentrate and stay focused. It added a little mystery to the piece.
Listening to the music made me think of my final elit piece and what I want to work on and it reminded me how music will play a big part. I would also like to add a game somewhere in my story. It was fun to play a quick game while being scared for Alice's life. Depending on what I want to write about, I'll see if a game will fit. I had fun with the game during Inatimate Alice but I can also see how someone would be distracted my it and not enjoy playing. I definitely want to navigate the reader through my story and help them feel what I feel as the writer. That is when I will feel successful and be proud of my Elit piece.
Wow! I believe this piece is my favorite one thus far. As I began, I got a creepy vibe coming from the digital sounds and the dark picture the narrative was showing. Going through a story about a 14 year old girl named Alice that was stuck on a halfway broken staircase on her way to the top of a building. Scared to fall to her death, through a creative and digitally interactive lens, the author decide to show different elements of the life of Alice that lead to that exact point in her troubled survival. Clicking through, I reviewed hypertext and slow paced pictures and media. The music played fitting to the setting of the story in Moscow, Russia. It helped play a role in placement, made me fell as if I were present in that exact country.
As the author encourages you to click through the narrative, it takes you on stairs that go up , and up, and up, until you have reached a point mid-way where you can play a game that eventually leads you through dark and spooky rooms to the top of the building whee the story comes to a halt. She showed something that seemed like a tablet to me that would help navigate readers through the story. I enjoyed having a side panel part that helped keep you in track through this confusing piece of elit.
What caught me by surprise was when she was explaining how she began to love her life in Russia, to a text box popping up saying,” I’m going to die”. As she feared for her life, a game of different realms pops up to help you save her life. I felt as if her life was in my hands at that point. I felt in the rooms myself and I was kind of scared as some points which I believe was the point the author was trying to entail.
All in all, I believe this piece was successful in showing how navigating through different segments can really play a role in the inter-activeness elit has to offer. Being able to navigate ans ultimately helping save the life of Alice, the author put you in a game or a somewhat kind of setting or feeling like you were a part of the story. You were Alice, and you were in power making decisions as the where you would go next.
**For my own Elit piece!
As with most of my work, I would like for my project to be both personal and very hard to stop reading. Exploring my experiences through life can help me create a poem that can take you through every aspect of the particular part of my life or my encounter with this situation. I want to state a point in time without telling the reader what it really is. This gives the reader power in deciding what I was writing about the whole time. I’d like to create a hypertext piece that explores a point in my life where I experienced a hardship. I will have readers navigate through hypertext and put themselves in my shoes page by page until eventually the aspect of the matter of what I was speaking pf becomes evident. People can feel, hear, and know what pain I went through from a simple elit narrative. Poetry to me helps bring out a deeper emotion that flows when it comes to my own personal writing. This will help spark emotions within my paper making it a very successful one. I look forward to exploring realms that I can express and create this piece for my project.
The e-lit story High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese is an interactive poem, created through an interdisciplinary collaboration of Canadian artists, programmers and community members. The project entails an interactive website, 8 videos and an interactive gallery that exemplifies the works of these Chinese disciplines. High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese explores the theme of Chinese immigration to the west coast of Canada – both historical and the contemporary tensions that exist in and between these narratives. Trying to interpret a complex narrative such as High Much a Muck.
High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese troubles the cliché of historical tales of Chinese immigration by exposing this classic narrative against one of mobility driven by the exigencies of contemporary global capitalism. Disrupting a charming world of hand-painted graphics and traditional Chinese music is the winking gleam of a highly adaptable, well molded, digital class. As we take our chances and enter the modals of blue digital ink splatter, the myth of immigration as a pathway to increased fortune and happiness disintegrates from within and around through unknown portals. The journey may take you nowhere, the winnings of the game may be less than fortunate.
Within each piece of blue ink splatters that I selected, I noticed more and more how tradition became more rich through every piece of this narrative. This piece was excellent in displaying rich culture norms of china and a great platform to tell a never ending story and digital variations of a Chinese poem.
This week, we checked out Inanimate Alice, by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph. This piece was different from anything that we've looked at so far for two reasons: One, it was the first piece that we've looked at this semester that is meant for children and young adults; and, two, it was more game-like than the other pieces. According to the author's note on the introduction page, we the reader must help Alice navigate through a dangerous, half-demolished factory.
Reading further, I learn that this piece is an episode in a series. It is episode number four, so I detour to Wikipedia in order to see what the series is about. According to Wikipedia, this series follows Alice, who's family emigrates from one country to another every few years. There are time jumps between the episodes, and each episode seems to take place in a different country. Episode four finds Alice and her family living in a town in the middle of England.
Upon entering the game, a reader is given two options: the episode or the teacher's version of the episode. I chose the episode, and was then met with an instruction screen. The game-like components of this piece are introduced when the authors inform the reader that "you may need to perform an action for the story to continue".
A film-like title screen follows the instruction screen; dramatic music plays to an image of a factory at dusk. Alice then introduces herself. She is fourteen years old. On the next screen, videogame-like music plays while snapshot sounds introduce pictures of a factory and metal stairs. Alice has been dared to climb the stairs of an abandoned factory by her new friends. When I click on the image of a pointing finger, Alice begins to climb the stairs.
The stairs collapse under Alice, and I am met with a black screen and four pointing finger, each indicating a different direction. I click up, and Alice hauls herself onto the remaining ledge. As she does, the words on the screen move as if pulling themselves upward. I click down, and the bottom of the stairs have completely separated from the building and have fallen. I click right: Alice's friends have screamed. I click left: her friends have run off and left her, or so she thinks. They come back.
They story then takes a detour as there is a flashback of Alice's family leaving Moscow. An interactive tablet appears with an overview of the city. There are options to click. "My House" opens to a blue print of the home that Alice's family rents. There are some rooms that can be explored. I noticed that the home has a very new looking bathroom but a very old, outdated kitchen. Alice calls it "something from another century". I also took note that Alice seemingly has very little privacy. Her parents must walk through her bedroom in order to get to the only bathroom.
From the "My Friends" and "My School" links, I learn that Alice now feels that she has finally made "actual friends my own age" and that she goes "to school now like a normal kid". It seems that in the past, she was homeschooled by her mother and had imaginary friends.
There are two more links: "The City" and "My Project", both of which also provide interesting backstory for this episode. Alice shows the reader how she creates stories on her tablet with iStories. She also explains how she thinks that she is the only person in her family that likes the new town. It is full of old ramshackle buildings and weeds; her mother seems to be unhappy about having to work outside of the home; Alice thinks little of her father's new teaching job. Her parents are arguing all of the time, so Alice goes off on her own, by bus, to meet with friends around town.
The backstory ends, and I am back with Alice of the factory ledge. The reader is again given two options: "play the game" or "read only". I chose to play the game. Alice moves into the factory and the reader must use the image of the pointing finger to make choices about which directions to send Alice in. If you get stuck, you are instructed to press [B] so that Alice's imaginary friend Brad can help you.
The factory is dark and falling apart. There is graffiti on the walls and creepy sounds of dripping and mouse squeaks. At times, the reader finds themselves at a dead end and has to turn back. Alice's internal thoughts appear on screen: "I'm afraid I'm making the wrong choice"; "A labyrinth"; "What's that sound?". She is afraid that something is behind her, following her. She fears that she will never find her way out of the factory.
I played around for awhile, going this way and that, turning back when the path became too dangerous. The author's did a very good job of using sound, text, and image to create a sense of unease. I had the sense that at any moment something could pop out or that something bad could happen.
After awhile, I wanted to test out Brad. He appears on screen, cartoonish and a bit transparent, and he points to the correct path.
When Alice finally finds her way out, she announces, "We did it!". She is standing above the city in the sunlight while triumphant music plays in the background.
All in all, I really enjoyed this piece. My only complaint would be that because I started on episode four, I needed a bit more background than I got. I had to read about the series in order to get a better understanding of what was going on.
As soon as I entered the world of high muck a muck, I was captivated by the sounds and the map of the author’s journeys being placed on the back of a body. When I went into the marker on the map named Everywhere and Nowhere, the music in the video brought me back to my time in my Cross Cultural Communication Class with Dr. Yedes. My second cultural event assignment was completed at the Rubin Museum in New York, where I was able to to explore the different cultures that make up South Asia. The music throughout High Muck a Muck took me back into the Tibetan alter/shrine where chant-like music played constantly in the background. Moving along, this piece was very interesting to me and I almost wish that I would’ve found this one to be able to present it :D. I feel that this work is so similar to how I would like my personal project to be. I love that the aspect of poetry (sometimes seemingly obscure but better understood if one clicks the book to read the full thing) is incorporated throughout as the reader travels through all of the places the authors trekked while immigrating to the West coast of Canada.
When I began trying to respond on this blog about this piece of e-lit, I started out by googling the word High Muck a Muck, and it is indeed an actual word (a noun). High Muck a Muck is basically a very authoritative and conceited person, and that was very interesting to me because I still do not know if I understand why it is titled that. I did stumble, however, across Simon Lysander’s website. Lysander contributed to the programming and design of the interactive piece. I liked how he specified the fact that he used “aleatoric processes” throughout the piece to make it feel similar to a fate/fortune, essentially because aleatory is defined as random or dependent upon chance. This concept really brings the piece full circle because that is exactly how it feels.
I became even more fascinated as I read more and more about pak ah pu (Chinese lottery game) because this entire piece, I suppose, is supposed to be like a pak ah pu game. Often spelled pakapoo as well, this game is played by the organizer marking a ticket that has rows of characters on it from the Thousand Character Classic (a poem where no two words are repeated and is used to teach Chinese characters). The player that marks their ticket closet to the way the organizer does wins. I thought that I was the problem at first as I reiterated in my head that the piece was kind of all over the place and messy. I ended up finding out that “it looks like a pakapoo ticket” is an Australian slang way of saying that the writing that is displayed is essentially messy!
I also read that, for the authors, creating this piece was as much of an immigration journey as the actual stories they tell and that is completely understandable. The design of this piece is so carefully and intricately put together. The more that I got into it, the more excited I became to find different things that I did’t see before. I really appreciate this piece for what it is. Stories like the ones these authors shared are stories that need to be told and identified with. There was so much reflection in this and even more release. I have to say that this piece might have been even more powerful to me if I was hearing all of the poetry instead of just in one of the videos in the Canada section (?). Don’t quote me on the section, but I definitely remember it. All in all, I can’t wait for Hailey’s presentation.
Link to High Muck a Muck