Tyne Lowe

Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: normal; background-color: #000000;” align=”center”>Artist Research by Tyne Lowe
Project 3: Interactivity

 “Mouchette” is a strange and simple website created by an anonymous artist. It involves very simple HTML in which the user can click a variety of different links on the page,  leading them to new pages with moving images and sounds. On the first page of the website, the user is introduced to the creator of the website, a character who calls herself “Mouchette.” She is 13 years old, from Amsterdam, and calls herself an artist. The website is full of strange, often disconcerting imagery and sounds which do not look like something the typical 13 year old girl would choose. There is a lot of floral imagery, often crawling with moving flies; there are also sounds of a female voice giggling or moaning, slightly grotesque images of food or close-ups of faces (such as a face licking a screen), and images that follow the user’s mouse. Areas of Mouchette’s pages are clickable, leading the user to other pages with clickable texts or areas; the sites seem to be randomly generated and difficult to return to. Some of the pages include biographical information, such as where Mouchette lives, her birthday, and so on.It is unclear who the creator of this website is, or who exactly “Mouchette” is supposed to be. The construction of a young girl identity with so much graphic imagery seems contradictory and jarring, even slightly offensive that such imagery (sometimes pornographic) would be attributed to a girl. It is possible that this website was based upon the 1967 French film “Mouchette,” which centered on a girl with an abusive, alcoholic father and a sick mother. The plot involves several sad or disturbing turns of events, including Mouchette’s being taunted in school for her appearance and a rape scene. Mouchette drowns herself by the end of the film. Perhaps the website is a variation upon this idea of a troubled, bizarre life of a younger adolescent girl.This website is interesting to me because it involves the construction of a first-person identity that presents a compelling array of images and other sensory information without disclosing who the creator was and what their intentions were. The user is left to understand who could be behind this unbelievable construction. To me, Mouchette highlights the ability to use the internet to reinvent one’s self, completely isolating one’s self from his or her original identity, and effectively convincing other users that this identity is the real one. Mouchette, of course, calls in the question of trusting identity on the internet. I am interested in constructing an identity as well, causing people to wonder about its verisimilitude if they interact with the identity on the internet, such as on Youtube.



Anne-Marie Schleiner, “Velvet Strike”
http://www.opensorcery.net/velvet-strike/sprays.htmlIn 2002, Schleiner began an online project called “Velvet Strike” in the popular “shooter” game Counter-Strike. “Velvet Strike” uses the graffiti option in the game to create a kind of anti-war imagery on the virtual walls in the game. Schleiner seems to have started this idea and collected other artists as she went to her cause, each of whom either submitted a new graffiti design to be downloaded or simply downloaded one of the designs to use in the game. This graffiti does not include one specific, repeated image, but it involves a variety of different symbols and sayings. Many of these are overtly anti-war and make a specific reference to the war on terror; some of these included a picture of the United States colored red, the words “Rogue State” written over top of it, and an image of a figure holding a dead person, with the words “we are all Iraqis now” written over it. Others of them attempt to promote peace with a less heavy-handed message, such as the graffiti with the gun-slinging figures arranged into a heart shape. Still others include images of the players in homoerotic positions.According to Schleiner’s essay on the Velvet Strike website, this graffiti was meant to be a reaction against the typical atmosphere that players experience in the game. As a citizen who was deeply disturbed by the development of the war in the early 2000s, Schleiner described her misgivings in the development of games that replicated and glorified combat that was directly referential to the war on terror. She stated that the realism in such games was too high, allowing players to feel immersed in an atmosphere that was not separated enough from the feeling of being in a war. By participating in the game, perhaps the players would come to ignore the horrors of war because they had become desensitized to it, or they would come to accept excessively negative attitudes toward the enemies. By making the enemies anonymous and the consequences of killing practically nonexistent, the game erases the complexities of lives involved and lost in war. Additionally, the atmosphere only includes very masculinized male voices, which sets up a tricky environment that may develop intolerance toward women players or even homophobia. Introducing the graffiti into the game disturbs the established desensitization in the game, making the players aware of their actions in the game.Although I don’t mean to make a particularly political message with my work, I am interested in Schleiner’s creation of a unified voice that conveys an idea contrary to the established mode of conduct in a certain system. In an environment like Youtube, I believe users get carried away by the lenience of what is acceptable treatment of others, objectifying other users and ridiculing the videos they put on the internet. By developing an identity that “stares back” at users in a way, that might make them question whether it was made in earnest or not, I believe I could lead many of them to think about the creators of videos more as people when they’re trying to figure out what kind of person might have made this video.


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