The CLITar was developed during a residency by Celia Pearce at the UCLA Game Lab in collaboration with the voidLab, a student-based feminist hacking group. The CLITar is feminist critique of gender politics in guitar game controllers. Inspired by observation that both rock guitar and “guitar hero” game controllers hold a distinctly masculine/homoerotic ethos exclusionary of women, the lab set out to invent a new kind of music controller based on feminine aesthetics and interaction paradigms.
Although CLITar is explicitly not a musical instrument but a game controller, we wanted the experience of playing with it to feel more like making music than current guitar-controller based games.
Other design goals include:
- Soft and plush, created with textiles (to contrast the smooth, hard texture of guitars and guitar controllers)
The CLITar is more of a soft sculpture than a game per se. A large plush toy covered in small pompoms, it is modeled after a cello. It is held in the lap in a position similar to that of a cello, with the cheek leaning against a small speaker at the top. Embedded between the pompoms and covered in purple fur are hidden five Arduino buttons. Players must explore between the pompons in order to find the buttons. When a button is pressed, a soft woman’s voice inspired by the opening tones of Laurie Anderson’s “Oh Superman” can be faintly heard in the speaker. The two Sing-A-Ma-Jigs attached to the CLITar may also be squeezed as part of the experience.