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The Invited Trespasser

I’ll get the heart of the matter out of the way first as long as you promise not to click away to play with the door before you’ve read the rest of this post.

Got that?

If you didn’t get what to do the first time you saw the post, go to the door and click on it.  There are 10 hotspots on the door, linked to different rooms containing stories, sound files, videos, and pictures.  In each room, you are asked to return to the main door post and leave your answer to the question or a statement about what you saw in the main comment box.  The point was to create an additional 11th space that is read out of context.

After I finished the Door Post, I begged Josh to give me feedback on a scale of 1–10 with 10 being “that was really cool!  I fucking loved that and wish I had thought of it!” and 8 being “wow–that was bizarre and interesting and I’m going to be thinking about it for a while” and 6 being “that was neat; on to the next blog post” to 4 being “wow, Mel, certainly seems to have a lot of time on her hands.  I don’t really get the point of this” to 2 being “I clicked away after two seconds and didn’t even try to understand it” to zero being “that was fucking stupid and I want those minutes of my life back.”

Because I truly didn’t know where the project would fall on the continuum.

I mean, I loved the idea and Josh thought it was cool, but couldn’t really answer with a detached grading because he’s not seeing our life out of context like the average blog reader.  Allison who created the front door for me (and she is taking freelance work too and you can contact her via her blog–she is fantastic and can do all sorts of coding and website design.  She’s one of those people who you can say, “I’ve always wanted X on my blog” and she somehow makes it happen) didn’t run screaming from it (but she often humours me because she loves me and gave me a xylophone ringtone on her phone to prove it).  But I didn’t know how everyone else would take it because unlike a regular straightforward blog post or even the online Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, some would immediately understand what to do and others would probably find it frustrating.

My third grade teacher had this rainy day game that I both loved and hated.  She would make everyone close their eyes (and I always followed the rules and didn’t peek because I am a rules follower) and then would place this small figurine somewhere in clear sight within the room.  Everyone needed to walk around looking for it with the idea being that we often miss the things that are clearly in front of us.  If you saw the figurine, you had to keep walking around the room, pretending to look, and count silently to 10.  Then, you were to go to a designated area and sit down on the carpet.  There was always a few kids left milling around while the majority of the class sat on the carpet and I hated when I was one of those kids.  It obviously still bothers me if I can remember this today.  I didn’t want anyone to feel like that 8-year-old Melissa still walking around the classroom while everyone watched her, giggling because they knew the secret and I didn’t.

But if I stated too much, it ruined what I was attempting to do, which I explained here if you hit the doorknob as your first click (I assumed, probably wrongly, that people would try the doorknob first).  It was to give you that sensation of entering a home, knowing that you have permission to be there (perhaps the person gave you a key) but feeling uneasy nonetheless because you just never know what you’re going to find when you’re in someone else’s space.  That weird feeling of seeing life out-of-context and at the same time, finding your own understanding within the other person’s objects.  I love the idea of guessing the story, of moving from room to room uncertain of what you’ll find, and finding commonalities between two homes–yours and mine.  And there’s the part of me, even when I have the key, that makes me wonder if it’s truly okay for me to be inside the space at that given moment.  So I wanted the participant to feel that sense of unsureness as they tried the door.

So it is all about creating that sense of unease and wonder–of exploring a space that is not your own, but contains objects and thoughts easily accessible to any human being.  It is about what makes each house unique and what connects every home in its commonality.

I do love to twist the medium of blogging and whenever I see a way to meld an established art form or community-building event with this new medium of blogging, I grab it and see if it works.  So rather than a numerical rating, which doesn’t really tell me much about if I succeeded in creating any of these sensations, please give me feedback on how you felt (1) finding the door post and figuring out what to do and (2) exploring behind the door.  If it didn’t work for you, if you felt frustrated or upset by it, please let me know that and why.

I plan to do something like this again, though my next idea is farther-reaching and possibly more emotional (for me, for the other IF bloggers participating, and for the viewer) and probably won’t be ready until mid-winter so I have time to tweak it and do it right.

And yes, I also plan to explain the stories behind much of what you were seeing and hearing (my apologies to anyone who couldn’t hear the sound files–I can type up a transcript, but some of the point was hearing things that you can’t immediately understand)–including the day Santa Claus turned into an octopus.

Okay, so now click on the door in various places and come inside to explore.  And when you see the next one–the next performance blog piece, I mean–you’ll know what to do.  And please don’t forget to leave me some feedback so I can make the next one better while remaining true to creating an emotional reaction.  This part is actually very important, though the reason won’t be clear until you see the next performance blog piece.


1 a { 12.01.09 at 12:42 pm }

Hah! That explains why I kept going back to the same rooms. No, I didn’t try the door knob – I knocked first! It took me a couple tries going back and forth, looking at the comments to figure out what I was supposed to do with it. I’m in awe of those first commenters who got it right away – I wouldn’t have had a clue without some more context/hints.

I thought this was a really fun idea. I look forward to your next creative expression.

2 karlinda { 12.01.09 at 1:35 pm }

Well, on the scale you gave, I’d put it somewhere around a 9. I would have commented on the two rooms I found last night, but I was too tired to be able to do it justice. I’ll go comment on them… just as soon as I’ve had breakfast & woken up some more! 🙂

3 jesspond { 12.01.09 at 2:32 pm }

Feedback on: (1) finding the door post and figuring out what to do –I guess when I moused over the door, I just noticed there were numbers….so I dind’t really decide to “try enterting” any particular way. I just moused till I found 1,2, 3, etc and went in order….so as not to miss anything. I didn’t think it was confusing at all…but I admit to thinking “what’s the point?” as well. Maybe I’m not cut out for performance art viewing! haha

(2) exploring behind the door. –I thought that some of it was interesting. I esp was a little intrigued by the quote room and the talk of “twins” that I didn’t necessarily agree with, though PARTS of it rang true. I’m always interested in people’s psychoanalysis and even general analysis on twins because I’m curious to see how that relates to my children’s not-twin-not-normal-siblings experience. I really didn’t get a sense of unease or intruding at all…..to that extent it felt like any blog post for me.

If it didn’t work for you, if you felt frustrated or upset by it, please let me know that and why. —I’m not sure it “worked” for me, but maybe it’s not my THING either? It was curious! I think what I liked about it most was that it actually SHARED a little about your life/family. We don’t get to see/hear that much about YOU, which sometimes strikes me as odd since the community is so PERSONAL. (Hey, how about opening another blog or branch of your blog that’s about your IF stuff and family life? Sign me up for that!)

4 Anna { 12.01.09 at 4:28 pm }

Thank you! I had a horrid day and this had made me stop sulking, in order to fetch my camera and ponder the answers to the questions. I’ve found doing this fascinating. I haven’t found all of the doors but I have enjoyed finding them and reading what’s behind them. The format fired my curiosity, I think there’s a stroke of genius in it. I couldn’t get all of the audio to work but I loved it. Please keep up the multimedia, creative fabulousness. x

5 Kristin { 12.01.09 at 7:28 pm }

You know you are brilliant, right?

6 Manapan { 12.01.09 at 8:06 pm }

I had absolutely no idea what to do! I tried highlighting the door first to see where to click (a side effect of having had access to computers since kindergarten?) but it didn’t help. So I clicked a random spot. Then I returned to the mailbox and the answers didn’t make any sense, so I just ignored the post figuring you would explain what to do later. Now it’s fun! But I’m glad you let us know there are 10 hotspots on the door. I couldn’t find #6 and I would have driven myself insane looking for numbers beyond 10. 🙂

7 Jo { 12.01.09 at 8:12 pm }

I totally didn’t get it. I’m glad you posted this explanation, though. Even if I don’t really have time to explore all the doors. Very cool idea.

8 Michelle { 12.01.09 at 8:34 pm }

I totally did not get it and thought maybe you had explained it earlier and I missed it so I started going through earlier posts. Then I gave up. Now that I have it figured out I like it.

I don’t know how you do it, Mel!?!

9 Another Dreamer { 12.01.09 at 9:41 pm }

LOL, I was also a knocker… I guess that defeats the whole “invited trespasser” thing though, huh? It also took me a moment to realize you had to click on other areas to go to different places… I was thinking it had a random link generator or something (is there even such a thing? that would be NEAT)

I absolutely loved this- it was very creative and highly entertaining. Hope you do it again sometime 🙂

10 calliope { 12.01.09 at 9:41 pm }

I will confess that it took me a while and I read the comments first to see if I was missing something. But I don’t think it is fair to base my total lack of scope on something that I now see as really interesting. I think this is like one of these exercises that get cooler once you have it explained. It reminds me of those quizzes we used to give each other in middle school where someone would ask you a question and then once you answered it they would exclaim, “well that is how you feel about life or sex.” Which I now remember as being kind of weird because I didn’t quite have an opinion on sex when I was in the 8th grade and now I had to grapple with the notion that how I felt about the ocean was somehow connected…um. so I give YOU a 10 and me a 2.

11 A.M.S. { 12.01.09 at 10:32 pm }

Yeah, sorry about door #6 being hard to find. That was my fault. I sent mel the coordinates for that part of the map with a typo in it, so it was only two pixels wide. We’ve fixed it now!

12 Circus Princess { 12.02.09 at 2:31 am }

I didn’t stick around long enough to “get it”. I never tried the door knob… I think I knocked first… But it sparked my curiosity! I love that you’re expanding the box of blogging 🙂

13 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 12.02.09 at 2:58 am }

It took me a few minutes, largely because the first one I opened was one of the sound files which is less straightforward than some of the others. At first I did think it was a random link generator, but soon saw that there were zones.

As a linear thinker, I only looked for the different numbers on the door itself and didn’t find 1 and 4 until I went back after reading this post, knowing that they must exist somewhere.

14 Bea { 12.02.09 at 6:24 am }

(1) finding the door post and figuring out what to do
The main trouble was not having the time on the first pass to play around with it. On the one hand, you wanted the impact of bang – it’s there – what’s this? and on the other I was sitting down to skim through some blogs in a spare couple of minutes and so that was not a format I was able to engage with at that moment. But! I did like it once I got a chance to sit and play, although I had skimmed through the top of this post first, and I wonder if it would have felt different if I hadn’t, not necessarily better or worse, but just caught me differently. When the next one comes along I think I’ll be readier for it, due to the fore-warning.

and (2) exploring behind the door.

That was cool. Did you achieve your aim? Yes, I think so. It was a weird selection of slices, ones we don’t usually see.


15 niobe { 12.02.09 at 8:42 am }

Count me among the clueless who had absolutely no idea what was going on. Videos and sound files are disabled by our firewall, which probably didn’t help either.

16 nixy { 12.02.09 at 1:23 pm }

I totally thought that the fact I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on was because I use a Mac. I thought I was completely missing something.

However, now that I know what’s going on, it’s really really cool. I’ll have to spend some time playing with it when I get a chance.

17 nixy { 12.02.09 at 1:25 pm }

oh! and on my mac, the entire door is clickable when moused over, you can’t tell if there are individual spots.

18 coffeegrl { 12.02.09 at 8:44 pm }

I’m with nixy, I was using Firefox and a laptop with a touchpad so when I “moused over” the door, it appeared to be a single point of entry and I kept ending up in “room 10”. This gave me the sense that there were other rooms but I couldn’t immediately find them and moved on for lack of time. But I thought it seemed like a fun idea. Now I understand better – thanks! How fun!

19 Elizabeth { 12.03.09 at 2:14 pm }

10,10,10!! I LOVED it! I love the co-constructed, participatory nature; the fun of finding the hidden doors; the ambiguity of the content. I have to admit that when I had trouble finding some of the hidden doors.. I CHEATED – I noticed the pattern in the urls for each door, so I went up and just changed the number in the url going from 1 to 10 to make sure I didn’t miss a single one! Is that like climbing in the window? I hope it is 🙂 This was just so much fun to me 🙂

20 Bec { 12.26.09 at 2:32 am }

To be honest it confused the heck out of me, even after the explanation… but then I am a simple kinda girl. Sorry Mel.

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