Caitlin Fisher’s “Andromeda” is a children’s pop-up book that has been superimposed with both audio and visual components in order to tell a story. Fisher uses a pop-up book as a template, and a digital book with codes for augmented reality that can be read via a webcam. The augmented reality codes are written on the cards and the cards are fed into a machine in order to read the code and display the image on the pop-up display. This concept of augmented reality works to enhance reality and allows to reader to view the display in a different way than if the book is read. The pop-ups allow the reader to interact with the display. Additionally, since there are several pop-up displays on the page at once, the reader can watch and read the display several times and interpret the display differently each time. The display works to appease all of the senses at once. The visual components can be seen, while the audio components can be heard. The visual component tells a story through images while the audio component tells a similar story through spoken words.
Fisher presents her display as a children’s book with added elements that are meant to convey the event of a mother reading a story to her daughter. Fisher’s display can be enjoyed and interpreted in different ways, but the method in which she incorporates several different elements into her display makes a feminist message apparent. Fisher’s arrangement of her display allows for her to effectively promote feminist ideals through a story about love and independence. Fisher uses a children’s pop-up book version of “Little Red Riding Hood” as a template, in which she arranges real-life video displays on top of the pop-ups. The visual components consist of images of stars, crashing waves, a roadside diner, and words, which all come together in order to help form the story. The visual components work off of one another in order to convey a common message.
Although these images are quite powerful on their own, they alone cannot appropriately convey the full significance of Fisher’s work. The additional written words and audio components allow Fisher to effectively portray an exceptionally meaningful feminist story. As a result, her presentation is more effective than it would have been had she only used one of the components.
The name “Andromeda” comes from the Greek myth that displays the classic notion of a “damsel in distress.” Andromeda’s father sacrifices Andromeda in order to prevent a sea monster from destroying his kingdom. Andromeda is tied up and helpless until a hero, Perseus, slays the monster and sets her free. Through the use of words in her pop-up visual display, Fisher makes the statement: “and I am never the hero in my stories.” Through use of the word “I” Fisher suggests that women are never the heroes in stories. The story of Andromeda is in actuality the story of Perseus. Andromeda is the one in need of saving while Perseus is the true hero. However, Fisher’s depiction of women successfully displays that women are just as deserving as being the hero of a story as men are. Women are more powerful than the myth of Andromeda illustrates. Fisher demonstrates this notion through use of the audio component, where she describes Andromeda as being “delicately chained” to the rocks. This description of Andromeda illustrates the misconception that women are delicate creatures in need to be saved by men. However, Fisher argues against the claim by repeatedly ushering the statement, “Remember, remember Andromeda.” Through this, Fisher is able to present this very antifeminist characterization of women and instead, uses Andromeda a method of reminding the world that this is not who women are anymore. Fisher is able to successfully portray the notion that women are more than just delicate and weak beings. “Remember Andromeda” because the days where women are nothing more than damsels in distress cease to exist. There is more to women, than meets the eye. Andromeda could be her own hero if she wanted to be.
The notion that Andromeda, and women in general, can be more than just a damsel in distress is seen in the opening of Fisher’s presentation. Fisher’s story begins with a powerful and beautiful image of the stars that make up the Andromeda constellation and galaxy.
This magnificent galaxy takes its name from the helpless woman who was chained to the rocks. This impressive image signifies that the namesake of the galaxy is just as impressive as the galaxy itself. The images of the stars successfully convey the idea that stars are beautiful and overly impressive objects. Stars are the perfect image in order to promote the idea of feminism. Stars are radiant and beautiful celestial bodies that radiate warmth, are brighter than one might initially realize, and are fundamental to all life on Earth. The sun is a star, and without it, life could not exist on Earth. Likewise, without women, human life would cease to exist. Therefore, just as there is power within the universe, there is a hidden power that exists within the helpless princess. Princess Andromeda is more than just a helpless soul and is capable of being her own hero if she desires. The image of the Andromeda Galaxy conveys the power and beauty that lies within the universe and figuratively within women. This interpretation can be gathered due to Fisher’s creative combination of images along with the audio component. The audio component consists of an echoing story that includes Fisher repeating the story of Andromeda. Fisher also makes a statement about a woman whose husband died in the war. The death of a husband signifies a new independence for a widow. A woman can then become her own person and not just her husband’s wife. The statement about female independence works well with the visual components in order to reinforce the feminist message throughout the display.
Another part of the visual aspect that clearly demonstrates the theme of feminism and independence is Fisher’s use of “Little Red Riding Hood” as a template for her display. This is successful because of the ability of “Little Red Riding Hood” to be read as a feminist text. Although the tale of “Little Red Riding Hood” is about a young girl who embarks on a journey into the woods by herself, Little Red Riding Hood meets her own demise at the hands of the wolf, and must ultimately be saved by the woodcutter. Little Red Riding Hood starts out as independent female character, but ends up needing to be rescued by a man. Like Andromeda, the character Little Red Riding Hood exhibits the qualities of a damsel in distress. Fisher demonstrates female independence through yet another pair of images in her display: the diner and the waves.
The early twentieth century diner themed visual component represents the feminist movement that took place during that time period. At the same time it hints at the anti-feminist notion that women are meant to be in the kitchen. The image of the diner is presented directly beside the image of the crashing waves. The two images side by side convey a powerful display because the two images convey opposing viewpoints of women: the diner represents the traditional role of women while the crashing waves signify the strength of women. The image of the rough sea is an effective method of conveying the idea of feminism. Much like the ocean, women have the capability of being serene and beautiful or chaotic and deadly.
Overall, Fisher’s presentation is highly effective in its ability to promote feminism through use of a creative display. She cleverly illustrates that women have the ability to take care of themselves and become their own heroes.
Veronica Aldous was a student of Dr. Lisa Swanstrom for a course in Literary Theory taught at Florida Atlantic University in the Spring term of 2014.