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I Am Alone and Miserable December 16, 2011

Posted by footagefinder in Digital Storytelling-Fall 2011, Student Projects.
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(designed and produced by: Nash Burrola, Lyndsey Moulds, and Houston Small)

I am Alone and Miserable is an electronic narrative that explores common representations of isolation and community on the internet. Obsessive world building, devotion to online forums, and fleeting encounters on sites like Chatroulette are often cited to warn against the Internet as an atomizing and isolating medium.  The ability of the internet to promote a meaningful sense of community is especially questioned if the community is small, misunderstood, or in any way deviant. Though we grant that the internet can function as an atomizing medium, we intend to humanize those who are cast as spectacles of isolation and obsession and to explore their quest for community. I am Alone and Miserable consists of a browser based narrative with a series of hyperlinks directing the user to short Flash or HTML segments that investigate these issues. While the narrative tracks one person’s movement from infatuation with constructing digital worlds to finding online connection, the individual segments examine a variety of different obsessions through a ‘DIY’ and ‘glitch art’ aesthetic. Though glitch art is often used to investigate the relationship between hardware and software, this piece casts it as a metaphor for the inevitable distortion involved in perceiving and judging others, especially in online encounters that can only give us brief and removed glances into the lives of others.  The title of the piece, I Am Alone and Miserable, captures the casual spectator’s initial assumptions and conclusions regarding the nature of unusual subcultures on the internet. The title comes from a passage of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in which the creature speaks the phrase “I am alone and miserable” in his plea for a companion as “deformed and horrible as [himself].” Ultimately, this project seeks to remove itself from perceiving these communities solely as spectacles and instead acknowledge them as legitimate extensions of human social activity. Can anyone ultimately judge who is alone or miserable? And in this situation of human spectacles and their spectators, who is truly “alone and miserable”?

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