"We made up worlds as dirty as our minds."
May 18, 2008 8:26 PM   Subscribe

The Doll Games emerged in Berkeley, California, at a time when race, gender, politics, and sexuality were fiercely and publicly debated... The Doll Games held up a funhouse mirror to their times, and what survives of them are historical documents of a wobbly, comical sort. But the Doll Games transcend their epoch. Intricate, obsessional, moral, violent and sexual, funny and tragic... Obedient to no rules except those its practitioners invented for themselves, completely collaborative, the Doll Games defined a truly interactive art form. In this theater of two, every audience member was a co-creator. [some text and pics NSFW]
posted by amyms (24 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Needs better link text.

Please explain what The Doll Games were.

Website is anything but self-explanatory.

Patience is waning.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:56 PM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

...the Doll Games presented a resolutely cheerful Weltanshauung...

Reminds me of an old "Calvin and Hobbes" strip where they lampooned pretentious "artist's statements."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:59 PM on May 18, 2008

Afroblanco, you can click on the definition link (the first one on the main page) for an "explanation." In addition, there are 10 other links to explore from the main page.
posted by amyms at 9:02 PM on May 18, 2008

That definition link doesn't come close to being an actual definition.
posted by afu at 9:08 PM on May 18, 2008

oh I get it now. pomo lulz.
posted by afu at 9:10 PM on May 18, 2008

Too late. Already lost me.

And why do sites feel the need to make me crane my neck to one side in order to read their content? Is indentation really that important?
posted by Afroblanco at 9:18 PM on May 18, 2008

Geez, tough crowd tonight.
posted by amyms at 9:26 PM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

fantastic post, amyms! it's funny 'cause it's true.
posted by moxiedoll at 9:28 PM on May 18, 2008

*reminds self to link only to remedial websites that require no imagination or sense of discovery*
posted by amyms at 9:28 PM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Aww thanks, moxiedoll, I was beginning to think this was a lost cause.
posted by amyms at 9:30 PM on May 18, 2008

I never said it was a bad post. I just thought you should write more-descriptive link text. Mystery meat posts get on my nerves. It's a pet peeve.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:32 PM on May 18, 2008

I liked the camera.
posted by user92371 at 10:30 PM on May 18, 2008

You know, I've sat through grad seminars that were exactly like this. Exactly.

Yeah, I guess that's the point. Heh.
posted by jokeefe at 10:50 PM on May 18, 2008

Bathroom commodities in molded "plastic wood" decorated with magic marker to resemble name brands. Includes: Desitin lotion (in pump dispenser), Stridex medicated pads, Secret deodorant, Noxzema, Band-Aids, Johnson’s Baby Cream, Suave Shampoo, Johnson’s Baby Powder, Coppertone, Sucrets, Johnson’s Dental Floss, [brand illegible] nasal spray, Buffered aspirin. Emblematic of the way the Doll Games consumed the larger culture, transforming and reconfiguring it for its own purposes, these jewel-like miniatures, none more than half an inch tall, are the products of thoroughly American dreamers.

Bwahaha. This is awesome.
posted by jokeefe at 10:52 PM on May 18, 2008

I'm not keen on the Doll Games site but it got me digging for more information and I do like very much her Body site. So, thanks for bringing her to my attention amyms.
posted by tellurian at 11:03 PM on May 18, 2008

A bit old, it was an experiment in electronic (metafiction) literature by Shelley and Pamela Jackson. Here's what Scott Rettberg wrote about it in his dissertation.

In the project description the authors wrote for the program of the 2001Digital Arts and Culture Conference, they described the project as sitting “uneasily between fiction nonfiction, serious inquiry [and] parody: [its] authors find subject matter very strange moving.” 28 The Doll Games documents a complex narrative game that the two sisters used to play when they were prepubescent girls, and frames that documentation in faux-academic discourse.


The project of The Doll Games is at once a mockery of the New Historicist strategy of unearthing historically neglected genres and recontextualizing them within a framework of identity politics, and a fairly thorough utilization of that strategy on the authors’ own personal fictions, the games they played as young girls.

posted by honest knave at 11:34 PM on May 18, 2008

Shelley Jackson is most known, by the way, for Patchwork Girl.
posted by honest knave at 11:36 PM on May 18, 2008

So this is nothing but a bean-plating of girls playing with dolls.

I spent two minutes trying to figure it out, and so I give you my two cents.
posted by alexei at 12:29 AM on May 19, 2008

P: Our mission in general is to document and theorize and perhaps even...

S: Lie—

P: And act out and make up stories about doll games.

Essentially, yes, the site is about two people who were acting out and making up stories about doll games. I was quite confused trying to figure this out as well. It is undeniably representative of a certain Berkeley approach to the world, and the entire enterprise of masquerading some fluffy gobbledygook as a substantive creation. To be fair, the creators seem to have a good deal of self-consciousness and modesty about their project, and I can see how this type of stuff is interesting to some degree, but all it usually boils down to for me is shaking my head in bewilderment. Would have kept out of the thread except for the fact that I live in Berkeley, and feel some responsibility to say we also do stuff like winning the Nobel prize last year for astrophysics research.
posted by sophist at 2:22 AM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Satire, people. Sheesh.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:25 AM on May 19, 2008

Looks like a big bowlful of meh to me, frankly.

Without contextualiziation within the work itself -- when it requires Honest Knave to link to someone's dissertation, for the love of all that is Holy -- then it means, IMHO, that the work is so completely obfuscated as to be semi-meaningless. Now that I get it, it is essentially a joke.

A joke entirely devoid of humor, IMHO.

Not my taste, so much.
posted by MythMaker at 11:02 AM on May 19, 2008

well, there *is* contextualization within the world itself - I mean, I got it on the first page ("The Doll Games did not spring fully formed out of a Mattel box, but evolved by degrees out of earlier games...") and I'm not a genius or anything. Maybe part of it is that, as I girl, I did indeed log countless hours "playing dolls". What makes it more than a joke (and it's a very clever joke) is that the observations ring very true to me. I was particularly struck by this passage:

Dawn was designed to be sexy, which, in our moral world, made her a figure of fun. She was also a monster, coming apart at her bandaged waist into two halves, like a magician’s assistant, or twisting around impossibly so her bottom half stood sideways while her top faced front. Her body was half bust, half hips. The rest of her was hair and legs. I despised her tiny high-heel feet. Even pulled apart her pieces were blazons of sexuality. All the more so, perhaps, for being separated from the competition.

Our heroes, on the other hand, were narrow-hipped, flat-footed, flat-chested, strait-laced. Models of rectitude, unembarrassed bare-assed, because every part of them was as decent as every other. How to get them laid taxed our ingenuity, therefore. How to bring these unimpeded vessels round, and sail them mild and unsuspecting into the smoke and torpedoes of the fuck act? By what contrivances can the innocent be innocently corrupted? Solve for f. We made our calculations.

Wow. Exactly.
posted by moxiedoll at 11:34 AM on May 19, 2008

Maybe you just have to be a woman, or to have played with dolls as a child. It leaves me cold.

moxiedoll, what part of that resonates for you? I'm sincerely interested. Maybe because I never played with dolls as a child, to me it's essentially a meaningless sequence of words all strung together...
posted by MythMaker at 12:28 PM on May 19, 2008

If it makes you feel any better, MythMaker, I'm a woman who played with dolls as a child and I don't see the appeal of this either. I think anything I could have potentially gotten out of it is clouded by the irritation that it takes way too much effort to reach any kind of point. Like earlier commenters I just wanted to know what the damn thing was, and the "definition" page didn't answer that question. Then after poking around it turns out to be a joke, and it's not really all that funny... definitely not funny enough (imo) to make up for all the time spent figuring out what it was.

I get very irritated with anything that doesn't just get to the point, though. I, too, dislike "mystery meat" posts. Not a knock on the OP or anything, since it's just my preference and other people seem to have liked the link.
posted by Nattie at 11:40 PM on May 19, 2008

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