The Impact of Motions

Motions by Hazel Smith is an interactive literature piece using JavaScript to allow readers to navigate through a series of images and text. The main subject of said piece focuses on human trafficking/contemporary slavery and how it represents one of the most negative aspects of globalization. The idea of trafficking is a disgusting habit some people still hold onto, and it’s more concerning that it has lasted to this point especially with the advent of technology and global connectivity.

The user ‘controls’ are fairly simple: using the arrow keys to navigate through the piece. It’s a small implementation, but I think it’s a good fit because it allows the reader to follow along at their own pace, giving them full control on how they want to interact. They have the option to scroll vertically to find tidbits of hidden information, and even go back a few steps to recall something. I wasn’t aware of it until I stumbled upon it, but even on repeated viewings (and going back and forth on the ‘pages’) no one slide was the same. Most of the background images would continuously change, and it made for a more dizzying experience as I went through. I feel like Hazel Smith wanted the engagement to be harrowing, and that was what I felt.

Speaking of harrowing, for as much as the title suggest, I spent most of my time stopping at each slide rather than moving forward. Not for the subject matter alone, but because I was scrolling up-and-down repeatedly and shifting through each slide numerous times like I was reading newspaper articles. It invoked a sense of caution and stress, not helped by the flashing excerpts of texts and the audio components. Those were the kinds of design choices that made me wary of proceeding, so I ended up taking much longer to read Motions.

One aspect that caught my attention were the excerpts that appeared fragmented. I could not make sense of what they mean, but perhaps it is their presentation that is more crucial than what they say. It invokes a feeling of shattering, which I think is synonymous with the feeling that comes with human trafficking. Seeing as the piece is guided by a narrator, I assume the fragmentations represent the damage of what the experience has done to them. This idea is also backed up with the scattered/mixing of each slide on repeated visits and personal excerpts, it made me think of Motion as a painful revisit of a traumatic experience. It’s not a positive thing to think of, but neither is the idea of contemporary slavery.

In the end, Motions was a unique experience I was faced with. There’s a lot more I really want to say about the piece, but I feel I can’t find all the words to really delve into so in my time until next class, I’ll be going over it again to make sense of what I couldn’t. I think the piece wouldn’t be as effective if it didn’t use the concept of interactivity, as it is a deliberate choice in how it is presented.

One thought on “The Impact of Motions

  1. ” Seeing as the piece is guided by a narrator, I assume the fragmentations represent the damage of what the experience has done to them. This idea is also backed up with the scattered/mixing of each slide on repeated visits and personal excerpts, it made me think of Motion as a painful revisit of a traumatic experience.” I like the way you describe this because I think that was definitely what the artists were going for in this in the portrayal of trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

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