“Pain is everywhere and nowhere. Post-wounded women know that postures of pain play into limited and outmoded conceptions of womanhood…I know these dialects because I have spoken them; I know these post-wounded narrators because I have written them. I wonder now: What shame are they sculpted from?”
– Leslie Jamison, “A Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain,” The Empathy Exams
For my final project in pcomp, I intend to explore the narratives we construct surrounding women, pain, and the erasure of the self.
My project was initially inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Published in 1892, the story is written in the style of a diary of a woman who, failing to enjoy the joys of marriage and motherhood, is sent to live in a room alone in the country in an effort to “cure” her ineptitude. She wants to write, but her husband and her doctor forbid it. Confined to her bedroom, the patterns on the faded yellow wallpaper come to life for the protagonist and eventually precipitate her descent into insanity.
For my final project, I will construct a wall covered in yellow, faded floral wallpaper that participants can touch and interact with. When a participant touches an individual flower on the wallpaper, an LED will light up and an audio recording will play. The audio recordings are stories that I will record from women describing their personal experiences with love and pain.
I am still refining the conceptual piece of this project, which is requiring me to talk to many of my friends about what kinds of stories they would find most interesting. For now, these are the questions I’m considering:
- Tell me about a time when you most felt loved.
- How long will you let yourself be sad about something? Do you think there is an appropriate timeline?
- Tell me about a time when you felt the most known.
- Do you have any wounds from experiences long ago that you still carry around with you?
For the physical interaction, I will use conductive thread and wires behind the wallpaper to connect the center of each flower to a SparkFun capacitive touch sensor, which I have already tested out.
When the flower is touched, the audio plays and the LED turns on. When it is not touched, the audio and LED are off.
Schematic for hooking up the touch sensor:
Here is a link my Bill of Materials (BOM), which is still being updated.
Here is my timeline.