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Patchwork Girl

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 7 months ago

Patchwork Girl is a hypertext written by Shelly Jackson, published in 1995. It is told through a series of texts and images that are interlinked together through words or images. Patchwork Girl is an amalgamation between Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum.  Patchwork Girl presented its story in an web-like manner well before the internet existed in its current incarnation. 




Written in Story Space, Patchwork Girl is a complicated web of loosely connected plot points.  The full story is broken up into five sections:  journal, crazy quilt,  the graveyard, a story, and broken accents.  These categories are presented in a story tree and the reader decides which branch he would like to begin on.  After clicking on one category, the story is then segmented further in chapter-like points.  Once in the heart of the narrative, the text is presented with small windows of minimal story.


In order to progress through the narrative, each window of story snippit contains a series of links.  These links lead the reader to another story snippit which may or may not be directly related to the previous, but are always entwined with the overall story.  Jackson does not attempt to force-feed you Herself's story like a child, and she intends for Patchwork Girl to be an exploration. 



Criticisms of Story Space

A criticism of Patchwork Girl from modern-day readers is the way in which linking is handled in Story Space.  Plot points are tied together through word links or sections of images that are not clearly labeled like in today's internet.  Jackson does allow you to find some links by clicking on the link button located on the tool bar. The reader is able to choose a link, from the list of links, to go to certain sections of the text rather than clicking on every letter until one stumbles upon a link. Story Space also allows the reader to manipulate the workspace however they see fit. This freedom to manipulate the workspace gives the reader the potential to alter Jackson's intended formatting of the narrative. Her original format includes many links that open oddly-shaped windows in seemingly random parts of the workspace.


This work was published before the proliferation of the world-wide web.  Considering the time in which Patchwork Girl was published, one can see the innovation in reading something that is written as a different type of narrative. This narrative is meant to be navigated using a human interfacing device, the mouse in this case.



Analysis of Oddly-Shaped Windows


However senseless the changing of window shapes and size may seem they actually give society a different look on reading. In crazy quilt there are three windows in which the author has pushed up to the left side of the margin and actually wants the users to use the scroll function which is not given freely of in the other windows. Most windows have all the text laid out nicely within the confines of the window, but having to scroll gives the urgency and the anxiety of the text meaning, such as turning a page. If the user were to open the window up to mirror those that came before it, they would destroy the life Shelly Jackson was hoping to instill within the work.



Critical Response and Analysis

Here's a screenshot of the program/interface Patchwork Girl is run in, also known as Storyspace:



Class Remediations of Patchwork Girl

Criticisms of Patchwork Girl were taken in the direction of groups remediating the work.  Class remediations included a three-dimensional space and a majority of the groups reformatted Patchwork Girl into a website or another stand-alone program where navigation is made much more familiar to a twenty-first century reader.  The main navigation and windows were condensed onto one page with the use of iframes rather than overlapping pages.  A simple, clever remediation was keeping all the work the same except for the fact that it was kept in four non-resizable frames.  This made clear the point that the difficulty presented by Patchwork Girl was not in the text, but in the unusual overall layout and interface.   Graphics played a major role in the remediations to show how each group interpreted the original text; more often than not, there was a graveyard and the images ranged from the “sexy” herself to a gory herself.  It is difficult to change a piece of work while keeping all of its elements perfectly in tact. 





This is a link Shelly Jackson's ongoing project: Skin.


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