The Day After

Before I played September 12th, I immediately envisioned a “day after” tragic portrait of New York City- guessing it would be a game in which I would have to navigate throughout the aftermath on the streets.  I thought it would be sort of like “We Feel Fine” but more of an emotional look into the people of the city.  This was not something that really appealed to me, so I wasn’t really looking forward to the game.

Instead, this game was much more shocking than I had imagined.  The setting is in what I can only assume is Afghanistan.  There is a sandy landscape with palm trees, simple square buildings, outdoor markets, and people that seem to be in two categories: bad guys, and civilians.  There are even dogs and children running around.  It is a simple game and background, and I couldn’t figure out how to do anything but shoot.  Also, navigating through-out the game, you can’t really go anywhere, the entire landscape is the same.

The goal seems to be to hit the “bad guys” without harming any civilians, which seems to be impossible.  I fired a few times, and as I got a “bad guy” down, I also killed civilians, and even a dog.  The game plays with your emotions, as you hear a woman crying when you accidentally hit a civilian or civilian area.

The games says in the beginning that there is no winning or losing- just choosing to shoot or not to shoot.  At first, I shot many times, trying to hit my target, but it seems no matter how hard I tried, I also took out people and things that I really didn’t want to- such as a outdoor market, dog, or child.

The people all kind of look alike, and it is hard at first to spot the terrorists among the civilians.  Everyone has the same type of walk and seems to be moving at the same pace.  I assume that the point of the game is that it is very hard to kill the terrorists without hurting innocent bystanders, and that shows the harsh reality of war.

Following the Steps

I have always loved maps, ever since I was a little girl.  I would get the map out of my dad’s glovebox and sit for hours, “reading” the names of cities out loud that I had never been too, but wanted to visit.  I would even highlight the ones that sounded interesting.

When I started reading “21 steps” I had a similar feeling. Each bit of narrative connected to a place on the map, and at any given time, I had no idea where the next stop was.  I thought this was a very interesting way to tell a story- the idea of visually following the narrator to the specific places detailed in the story was very mysterious and exciting.

The story had a mysterious feel to it– the narrator was forced to go on an unknown mission, and the reader got to literally follow along.  From flying to rowing across unknown waters, I think that the use of the map really made the story even more interesting and mysterious.  Following the plane to Edinburgh was one of my favorite parts, as well as the detail at Heathrow airport.

I have never read a map story that was similar to this, but it reminded me of a story I would make up in my head as a kid when playing with maps (minus the guns and deaths of course)

If the story did not use the map, it would have been much less effective- the reader would have to picture going to each of the places in their head, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but would make the experience much different.

Seeing how many blocks the narrator had to go, watching the plane “fly” to Edinburgh, and his boat row away from the police made for a rich experience.  Although this was my first experience with this type of story, it was pretty memorable.

Who Really Feels Fine?

We Feel Fine

My first experience with “We Feel Fine” was when Professor Sample demonstrated the site during my recitation class last year.  It has stuck with me every since then.  It actually was really interesting to me- such a different form of expression that I had never really been exposed to.  The first thing I could think of was that it reminded me in a way of Twitter, but the little spheres jumping all over the screen reminded me of people’s spirits floating around. There are so many of us in the world, and many people go day to day hiding their true feelings.  This form of media lets the user put their feeling out there- they can choose to identify themselves as far as age, specific feeling, etc.  or they can just be an anonymous female from the United Kingdom, for example.  What this site displays reminds me of all of the different energies surrounding us, but it is almost like we get a peek inside of those energies- which I find really cool and really bizarre at the same time.  The whole experience also reminds me of this pretty awful movie with Mel Gibson: What Women Want, where his character can “hear” the thoughts of women as they walk by.  The selections at the top where you can narrow down your search to certain things like: Feeling, Gender, Age, Weather, Location, and Date adds a whole new feel to the site.  I guess if you felt a certain way, you could find someone your age, gender, etc. who felt exactly the same way.  It is almost like a game of emotion- you can click any sphere and you will never know what you will come up with.  I think one of the coolest features is that you can choose the exact date and country that you want to find an entry for.  I looked up some entries for the 10th anniversary  of September 11th, and some of the ones posted show just how powerful a seemingly simple site can be.  The queries to narrow the feelings down are really what makes the site interesting.


Disappearing Lines

Critical Response- Taroko Gorge

This form of poetry was really frustrating to me at the beginning.  I hate to feel like I’m not in control and the text goes by and disappears quickly.  If you don’t catch the words, you miss them and there is no going back.  Although it is slow enough to read, the realization that once the text “falls off” the screen, it won’t be coming back is a bit unsettling to me.

I felt like the poem had layers, and the content of the poem was actually really interesting once I got past the stress of words falling off the screen.  There seems to be a reoccurring pattern, although I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.  Words repeat themselves throughout the poem, specifically: hum, relax, flow, vein, and cool, among others.

It’s almost as if the same words are being used over and over, just rearranged.  If this is the case, it’s really a cool and creative idea.  The other factor that was different for me was the fact that the poem seemed to be never-ending.  This was also an issue for me, as I tend to like things to have a beginning and an end- a lack of being “complete” is also unsettling to me.  It reminded me of singing karaoke to a song you don’t really know, and once the words flash on the screen you can’t get them back.

The green background adds a calming effect to the stress I was feeling.  It goes along with the natural theme of the poem, and kept me hanging on.  I am a very visual person so small things such as color really matter when it comes to how I react (or don’t react) to something.  I let the poem “play” for about 20 minutes, and I can’t figure out if it is continuing, or just the same poem starting over.  This poem is an example of something unconventional that grabs your attention.  It was almost like a game to me- like how long will it take for me to keep reading until I surrender failure.

Back From the War

Creative Response-  My Boyfriend Came Back from the War

In this piece, the interactive art was very interesting- for example, the window image flashing reminded me of bombs for some reason, timebombs specifically, like there was only a matter of time until the end.  It’s repetitive flashing causes an uneasiness that I couldn’t shake.  The flashing window also reminded me of a pulsating heart which could stand for the love between two people, or the quickening of a pulse because of nervousness, whether it be from love or fear.

During the part where it says “Where are you, I can’t see you”, I felt sad which shocked me.  This kind of broke my heart because of stories I read about PTSD and coming back from war.  Sometimes people change so much that they are unrecognizable.  My husband’s cousin died in Afghanistan, and this question “Where are you, I can’t see you” resonated with me as well.  I never got to meet his cousin, and my husband sometimes says he can feel him around, but not see him.  I’m still undecided about the whole afterlife thing, but that is what this part of the media reminded me of.  A bit strange and hard to share, but there it is.

“Look, Salute, In Honor of You”…. The words on the bottom right side of the page that you can click are positive words, but then they change to read: Red, GREEN, Blue.  I found this very interesting, this change of our country’s colors really stood out to me, although I wasn’t sure what it meant.

Also interesting was the graphic in the middle of the soldiers and helicopter.  The background was black and the image white, but when you click on it the colors reverse to a white background and black image.  This could portray many things, such as the change that occurs in a person because of war, or the changes that war causes in general.

The repetition of clock images as I clicked through was also interesting to me.  Overall, this was a very thought provoking piece.

Critical Response #1

Critical Response

Lisa Gitelman, “Imagining Language Machines” from Scripts, Groves, and Writing Machines (Blackboard)

Lisa Gitelman discusses the invention of the phonograph, and the thoughts and visions associated with it.  The opening of the paper is full of interesting information about the phonograph.  It captures the thoughts of a population introduced to a new technology.  Upon the invention of the phonograph Edison boasted that “The dead would be able to speak, the blind to read.”

Gitelman discusses how during the next decade the phonograph would come to exist as a language machine.  Here I wondered was this really the first glimpse of a “paperless world” as the paper suggests?  Did people really had any clue what was to come in the future?

Later, Gitelman presents the thoughts of Edward Bellamy who was said to bring up the suggestion of a “paperless world.” Bellamy also felt that reading and listening to the phonograph are both processes of “absorption” but he felt that real reading makes the reader less responsive to the matter being absorbed.  This is an interesting observation that I never thought of.

There were many benefits of the phonograph listed by those who supported it.  Bellamy also observed that posture is better and eyesight improved when listening to a phonograph.  This reminded me of the start of the Books on tape/CD that we have today.  It is so simple to listen to a CD of a book, but it is such a different experience than actually reading a book.

Bellamy also thought that written English will become a dead language, and writing a lost art.  This highly bothers me, and I am glad that his prediction didn’t seem to have come true.

It is interesting that the phonograph was thought by many to make writing more problematic.  I can see a similar situation arising in the younger generations with all the new technologies out there.  It is particularly interesting to see people write things such as “Gr8” for great or “TTYL” instead of talk to you later.  While these new acronyms are handy, I can’t help but think that they hurt the writing skills of youth and future youth.  It seems that new technologies make things very convenient, but at the same time they have their downfalls.  The most interesting thing to me was to see the many similarities between the inventions of technologies of old and technologies of today.