‘Cause Two Can Keep a Secret if One of Them is Dead- “Public Secrets”

Everyone has secrets, and regardless of whether or not you’ll willing to admit it, there are some that you would kill to keep hidden from the world. But what about the ones you want to tell someone? Ones that you have to keep secretive because you are forced to by the government?

For my checkpoint, I chose to look at Public Secrets by Sharon Daniel, which is listed in the Elit Directory 2. To be honest, I merely chose it based on its title since I found it pretty provocative… Guess I’m not really a complex person. Haha.

Anyways, Public Secrets is a collection of narratives from women in the Central California Women’s Facility, which is essentially a huge prison for women. These statements from the incarcerated women reveal secrets about drugs, crime, the prison, and the flaws of the judicial system.

When I first opened the page for Public Secrets, I was just expecting a couple of links that directed to transcripts of interviews. However, as soon as the page loaded, there was a voice (I’m presuming it was Daniel’s) narrating the background information about Public Secrets while there is a black-and-white image scrolling across the screen that to me, looks like an outline of a city that you normally see in cartoons (which you can see above). A weird detail Daniel added was that she made the screen look stained while the image is moving, which really caught me off guard. It took me about 2 minutes to realize that my screen was, in fact, not dirty and that I should’ve probably stopped rubbing my laptop screen with a Kleenex (however, even with this realization, I was still disturbed by the stain images…) I’m not sure if I’m just a neat freak, but it really did distract me from the opening sequence.

As soon as the opening sequence is done, it directs you to a screen that displays the same black-and-white outline image (stains still there, of course). There were also four different tabs located on the left side, that directed to four different sets of interviews. I’m guessing it was the four different categories of binary oppositions that Daniel used to organize the interviews. On the different pages, there were a ton of thought-provoking quotes from interviews that are designed to draw the reader in to click it. Once you click the quote, something peculiar happens. I thought that a pop-up would come out and have the transcript of the interview with a picture or something, but rather than that, an audio clip starts playing! David added in the actual recorded interviews into the site, which added to the eery, uncomfortable tone. Thankfully, you could also click to view the transcript, and pause the recording so you can just read the conversation.

One of the most thought-provoking interviews I found was one about a woman talking about how men and women are persecuted differently for committing the same heinous crime. The interview is seen below:

What surprised me the most wasn’t necessarily the fact (although I do find it outrageous that a woman was sentenced more time than the man), but that the woman in the interview didn’t sound angry or upset about this; she just sounded emotionally drained. She sounded like she had accepted the fact and just learned to deal with it, like nothing was going to change about it. One common aspect about all of the interviews was that every single one of the women sounded apathetic. They knew they were stuck in their situation with no way of escaping it; they had lost hope. Listening to the interviews, I pitied them.

Overall, I thought that Public Secret was extremely similar to the PostSecret phenomenon, a on-going project where people mail homemade postcards anonymously with his or her deepest, darkest secrets written on them. We know that telling someone our most private secrets won’t make them any less painful or hurtful, but it does take some of weight off our shoulders. As humans, we crave relief and sympathy from others because let’s face it; we’re fragile creatures. I feel like that’s how people who write to PostSecret feel, and I like to think that Daniel’s project helped take some of weight off of the incarcerated women’s shoulders.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *