by Daphne Gao

Artist Statement

I grew up in Parsippany, New Jersey, a suburban area with beautiful skies but not much else. I was really awkward around other kids when I was a kid. I have an older brother who barely talked to me when he was a teenager. At family parties, I would watch other girls play with each other while I stood shyly to the side. I would watch jealousy, and wish I could play tag with them, too. My mom would tell me that they all took ballet together, and took me to dancing lessons, too. But I wasn't good at dancing. Not at dancing, not at ice skating, not at swimming, not at painting. But at one family party, it would be a group of rowdy boys. They would all huddle together at one computer and play video games, which fascinated me. They hollered, screamed, laughed, cheered. I would watch with my eyes wide open and felt that same high energy. It pushed me to hop on the computer myself the next morning, and I began to explore the same games and websites that they did. I cast aside the toys and dolls that I had begun to grow tired of anyways, and went head first into the Internet. It felt like putting on colored glasses after dreary, grey days of being bored in my suburban house. I discovered Youtube, which was like another universe of itself. I played classic games like Diner Dash, and the many Pokemon games on the Gameboy. And slowly, I started to move onto multiplayer games. I was awkward meeting online people, too. But very slowly, as I became more coherent going into 4th grade and 5th grade, I made friends. Friends that I couldn't wait to talk to after school. It would be all I would think about last period, tapping my feet under my desk, looking at that clock tick, feeling giddy in my stomach. Discovering the Internet sparked something in me that helped my loneliness and my boredom, shaped my humor and my creativity, and introduced me to new friends and even my current partner. As a result, I want my works to represent my experiences and memories that I have gained along the way because of the Internet. The internet was my escape, but now I want to give it homage for being my safe spot for so long. I love storytelling, and I want my media to reflect that. I often use videos and recordings of myself to do so. I want to show people how much discovering the internet has pushed me out of what seemed like a lonely, big shell. I'm sure there's someone else out there, despite their age, who is feeling kinda lonely and awkward, too. That looming feeling that there could be more out there. Maybe it means stepping outside for them, but in these times, I encourage you to hop on your computer. And maybe that could change your whole world.

Project Statement

e:girl by Daphne Gao is a film from the perspective of a female streamer. Gao was motivated by her own experience with streaming on the platform Twitch, which has been her biggest takeaway from quarantine. The title, "e:girl," stands for an "internet girl," and is sometimes used as a stereotype for women who game, sexualize themselves, and/or chase online fame. The protagonist is a female Asian streamer who focuses on casual gaming and chatting. She genuinely enjoys talking to her chat and considers them as a community, her community. There are elements to streaming that she never knew about, like raids, emoticons, and the general culture. However, occasionally, there are days where interactions, between her and strangers from the Internet, aren't positive. These messages are set with a black background. Trolls can be expected and ignored, but sometimes it still can catch you off guard. Sometimes it can still affect you, especially when it comes to attacking your character, your gender, your race, who you are. Sometimes a mental break is needed. But remembering that people are waiting for you when you get back can make that "go live" button so much more welcoming again.