For Juliet Davis’s “Pieces of Herself”, my attentions and interests were totally raised and drown during the process of exploring and playing the Elit work. Unlike other E-lit works that I have met and read now, “Pieces of Herself” is a drag-and-drop game that explores feminine embodiment and identity. To be more specific, it uses the dress-up doll motif to explore issues of gender or women identity in different contexts, which include with shower, bedroom, outside, kitchen, living room, office, and Main Street. When you drag and drop the colorful icons in the black and white settings onto the human figure on the left side of the screen, it triggers audio clips from interviews with women, music loops, and sound effects, resulting in a layered narrative. Maybe that is because I am one of those who are really care about and pay attentions to feminism and gender equality, I felt the piece was really relatable for me, personally.
- She-nameless-considered to indicates every female in our life.
- Pieces of herself-pieces of female characters/pieces of the society’s stereotypes or expectations on female characters.
Before I click on any of the icons, I want to mention one detail that I have noticed, the short explanation for each setting. For example, the explanation for the “shower room” is as below.
Places like restroom, shower room, are always the most ideal places for women to have some private chats. In the shower room especially, “women slip behind curtains” and keep themselves “in perfect synchronicity, to remain invisible to each other”. We were educated to do so. We were educated that we need to hide our bodies and protect our bodies. Therefore, only in this way, can we feel safety and reassured. Meanwhile, because this is the place where we are naked, we tend to communicate something really private and honest.
When I started exploring the Elit, the first thing I drag is the bacterias on the toilet bowl, and the corresponding sound says “don’t forget to wash your hands”, which sounds like the words mothers always tell their children. I am not sure whether Tracy, which is the name on the door of the toilet, is her name or not. I think it could be something she saw on the door just as us do, but draw by someone else. Or it could be draw by herself in the past. The sound makes me feels like Tracy was betrayed by John. The sound of finger print is “Oh my god, I’m not gonna let my kids see me naked”. Again, it demonstrates the fact that women always try to keep their bodies on the dark and private side, and usually they are kind of unconfident and ashamed about their own body. The blood icon triggers a music loop of “Blood Makes Noise”. You can find the dripping sound never ends after dragging the water in the vanity sink, which was really annoying.
Here, more than three other social characters are revealed in her life, her mother, her lover, and her kids.
Than, in another really private context, the bedroom, the explanation is as below.
This explanation really confused me at first. Then, I felt related to it strongly. In my life, sometimes, I mean I am a person who tend to think and worry a lot, when I start thinking, concerning, even imaging about something, I felt I can never catch or stop the thoughts. They are just there, like a cloud, “floating to the ceiling”. Actually, when you enter the bedroom, before you can notice and think about the explanation, some sound messages would start playing immediately. The messages are left by her boyfriend, her mother, and her friend maybe. The messages are really disquieting, as they indicate the fact her might had not answering any phone calls from her most close ones for a few days. From my own experience, that is usually not a good signal for a person’s neither mental or physical situation. She probably had experienced something really bad and had a great influence , which might made her break down.
In the trash bin, I found a piece really disquieting again. “In my dream, I’m home but it’s not really home” I feels that demonstrates that she lost her sense of belonging to her home, her city, and her close people. So, she felt unfamiliar with the surroundings. When you click on the purple cloud, the sound of thundering releases, which reminds me of all the thundering and raining nights I spent on my bed in my own bedroom when I felt afraid, small, and lonely. These bad weathers make it easy for me to think of bad and sad memories and have some negative and distressing thoughts. Another interesting thing I found is what is showing on the screen of her computer is also “Pieces of herself”. I felt, again, it really implies that every female who is reading the piece is actually “her”, the one who is finding the “pieces of herself” to some extent. I believe the most of us have had the question about ourselves.
Another thing I want to mention is that when you finish exploring two or three settings of “Pieces of Herself”, you might found that the body on the left side is already a mess full of different icons. Some of the sounds, such as dripping, never stop making you feel crazy and restless. My understanding is that a woman’s body is like a trash can, which is full of her own life experiences, no matter they are good or not, they can never be removed, and the filthy things that the society imposed on them. The “clear” button is like the process of dumping the trash can. However, in real life, woman do not have the “clear” button and they can not removed these things as they wish.
The explanation for “Outside” is really worth thinking.
“As if she could ever really get ‘outside’”. If I put us here, in her position. “As if we could ever really get ‘outside’”. We are trapped. We are all trapped to some extent, as females. As it was showed in all the settings, females always have multiple characters and roles, for example, someone’s mother, someone’s daughter, someone’s lover or someone’s wife, someone’s employee, etc. Therefore, many different expectations, requirements, and responsibilities are thrown on females. During the process of exploring the pieces by dragging and dropping these colorful pieces, we are actually exploring how a woman is treated or required in her life as different social roles. There existed so many labels and stereotypes for being a woman in the society, in all the countries, for all the women. She may tried really hard to reach the “standard”, but she can never be perfect. However, she can never “get outside”. She were trapped. Just as we do. Maybe for her, the ending was really sad. In the “Main Street”, we can found that Tracy is missing, her photo is on the missing poster beside the policeman.
Fortunately, we are Tracy, but we are not Tracy. Furthermore, the Elit piece provide us the opportunity to think about some things really of great importance. We are supposed to think about ourselves as female characters in the society and the stereotypes, labels, limitations, and requirements for female characters that our society has. Why do I have to? Why do I have to be the way others or the society want? I want to be the way I want. Why am I defined by others or the society? I can only defined by myself. The perfect me can only defined by myself, too.