Simone Gilson

Atone aims to explore issues surrounding the body, identity and control and takes Shelly Jackson’s animated and fragmented female figure in Patchwork Girl as a primary source.1 As a project that positions the female form as one which is ‘other’ or monstrous, Atone was designed to explore the consequences of  removing gender from the equation of observation, and whether it is still possible to objectify the reader/users gaze.

The image of a marionette doll - which is asexual in form - worked well with this concept, and references Donna Harraway’s Cyborg Manifesto in which she positions the cyborg as one that is, ‘resolutely committed to partiality, irony, intimacy, and perversity.’2 In Atone ‘partiality’ is a key, in contrast to Patchwork Girl which moves autonomously and with fluidity, here hidden hyperlinks are used to force the reader/user to scrutinise the body of doll. This element of sight and control was key in relation to the Atone. Lyn Hejinian defines an ‘“open text”’ as one that ‘invites participation, [and] rejects the authority of the writer over the reader’.3

In Atone this tension between participation and receptiveness was important, it was designed that the reader would go through the process of navigating the work, only to be lulled into a false sense of authority by embedded hyperlinks that force the reader through prescribed channels. Coupled together these elements reveal the body and the poem in stages, and applies an degree of performativity to the work; re-objectifying and forcing the reader to reconsider identity and the human form.


[1] – Shelly Jackson, Patchwork Girl, ( [Back to text]

[2] – Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century," in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York; Routledge, 1991), pp.151. [Back to text]

[3] – Lyn Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), p. 43. [Back to text]