Pieces of a Wunderkammer



I found Juliet Davis’s Pieces of Herself through the Electronic Literature Collection (volume 3) I selected it because it reminded me of Shelly Jackson’s My Body a Wunderkammer (MBW). Pieces of herself was made in 2003-2005, so I think it is certainly possible it was inspired by the work of Shelly Jackson. Both have similarities in that they are feminist pieces that tell a story as you interact with the body, but they have vast differences such as formatting, imagery, and content. 

Pieces of herself uses drag and drop images rather than using hypertext like in MBW. This work is set up more like a game. You begin by clicking on one of the settings. The options are shower, bedroom, outside, kitchen, living room, office, and Main st. As you move your cursor the background moves with you. As you move around within the video things appear in color. These moving cartoon-like images can be placed on the figure to make a collage. As you scroll over them in the video or drop them on her body they say things or play music. This  creates a poem with thousands if not millions of combinations. Once you leave a setting you can come back and the colored images will reappear within the video, but also remain on the body. Some of the objects are random such as frogs and squiggly lines, but others relate more to feminism such as Oprah on the T.V., a vibrator, and a poster of a missing girl. I think this formatting also plays with the idea of women and dress-up. Her body becomes a paper doll and begins as a blank canvas.

This is different than what we have seen before, because it is a work of video art rather than just text. It is almost like an audio book mixed with a puzzle. However, there is some text in the upper right corner of each location and in some of the images. The works are similar in that they both go through a woman’s memories to tell a story. In pieces of herself the pieces are not all body parts. It is more about the environmental factors that have shaped this woman’s life. Since it mostly deals in imagery, I feel that this work leaves more room for interpretation as to who the woman is and what her life is like. This game plays more with the relationship between public and private space rather than the relationship to the body. 

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