A new form of literature? Blog 2
Close reading--although the intro suggests that a reader can view this media in a mere 8 minutes, I spent almost an hour analyzing it.
In Inanimate Alice, Episode 1: China, author Kate Pullinger depicts a world completely dependent on technology, and sadly, that world is not all that far away in our future. Pullinger utilizes her resources of the web--she uses sound, images, and text to support her theory.
Starting with a simple, yet very static statement, "My name is Alice. I'm 8 years old," the mood and purpose of the work is set. In the background, readers can hear static and interference. It sounds like the noise a tv or computer monitor makes when a cell phone's frequency is in too close of proximity. (I actually thought my iPhone was causing interference, so I put at the opposite end of the room, only to realize that the interference persisted.)
On the next page, the static persists on the text. It quivers as though it might lose connection and be lost in cyberspace forever. When the girl reveals that her father is missing, readers get a somewhat anxious feeling. Where is the father? Why is he missing? Only progressing will reveal the answers...
Page three shows images of a few jeeps off-roading. The music in the background is very effective, as it adds to the eerie mood and atmosphere. Over the course of the next two pages, the girl reveals that her father travels alone, leaving his wife and daughter alone at their base camp which is located in china. Images of China overlap the moving jeep images, and allow readers to see the environment for themselves--except it appears that the narrator is in a remote location in northern china. Pullinger mentions that the father's job involves searching for oil. This suggests that, although the characters live in the 21st century, and even though the society is very technologically dependent, oil still drives the economy and world in general.
A new recurring theme appears on the next page: images of a road speeding by. Pullinger uses these images to help the reader assess just how far the father and later the mother and daughter must travel to reach their destinations in such remote locations. With the static text still evident, the girl mentions that her mother is no longer assuring her that dad will be home soon.
Next, Pullinger uses a diagram of a futuristic house to allow the girl to describe her house. Here, it is evident that pictures are still worth a thousand words. The house is round--it probably only has enough room for the family's essentials--and is located in the middle of nowhere. Readers can assess by this picture and diagram, that yet again, technology is very important to their day and age: the characters rely on electronic devices to keep in contact with the rest of the world.
Pullinger finds painting and drawing will allow readers to identify with the characters and with what they are currently experiencing. Although the music has now slightly changed to a traditional sounding Chinese song, static persists, ensuring readers that we cannot escape the grip that technology now has.
To keep herself preoccupied, the little girl plays with a player that is similar to an iPhone. From this electronic device, the girl can not only draw pictures and play games, but she can also use it as a communication device and use it for global positioning. This interactive device not only speaks to her hello Alice but also shows her a skateboarder that she drew herself Brad. Pullinger makes it obvious that Brad is Alice's only friend, because she lives in such a remote location.
The following two pages show a vast desert in the form of a never-ending panoramic image. This enhances the image of Alice and her mother searching for the father. A graphic diagram of jeep with "a big satellite transmitter on the roof" finds its way onto the page, which yet again enforces the notion that technology plays a pivotal role in staying connected with the outside world. The girl's player even has a GPS installed in it, which "registers all the new locations."
Pullinger allows readers to acknowledge that the player is a sort of lifeline for Alice--her mother tries to distract her with wildflowers, but Alice finds that the only way she can see them ("she [her mother] is driving too fast for that") is to take pictures of the wildflowers as they speed past. Then the daughter mails them to her father, yet again enforcing our dependency on devices such as PDAs and iPhones. (I think of my iPhone here--I sometimes wonder how I survived before I had it, and I haven't even had it for a year...)
The next page brings along yet another moving image of driving down a dark street. Static text that reads "we travel a long time," and the girl turns to her "player" to occupy her. She lists the things she could be doing instead of riding in a car until her mother tells her that the "player" is annoying. She is frightened. I'm frightened too. These two phrases do not aid the reader in erasing that omnipresent eerie feeling. The sky hums up here, I don't know why, as though it's electronic. We rely on technology and electricity so much now that we are polluting our airways with shockwaves. Alice is too young to understand this--she is hurting her environment and she doesn't even know it.
Pullinger adds the common feeling of being lost to her piece when Alice looks out the window but realizes there is "nothing to see." She chooses to list the things that she would do if she lived in a town instead of in a remote location. Pullinger notes that not one of these activities involves technology. Suddenly, Brad is speaking and tells them where to find Daddy.
As it turns out, Dad's jeep broke down, and since there was NO SIGNAL for miles, "he walked and walked to find one, but he couldn't, how strange is that?" As a final statement, Pullinger yet again demonstrates her opinion that our future generations will rely too much on technology. Alice also mentions that there isn't a restaurant anywhere in the surrounding 500 kilometers. As a lesson learned, deserts can be a dangerous place for someone who isn't connected to the rest of the world.