It's hot. Like, real hot. The only airflow is provided by a single metallic fan, pointed at my chair where I work. Mia the cat is sometimes here, nuzzling her face into my foot. I'm trying to realise the world.
Someone dug a huge hole outside, and someone else is filling it. What used to be a small overgrown lot became a hive of activity, and foreign sounds. A cursory understanding only amplifies their mystery.
Those empty holes seem unsupported, and are also not going anywhere, and are also not shifting, and are also not emptying their weight into the void, and just simply, standing in the place of things that might have been.
I see them reaching their small tendrils around the framework, and I feel them growing out of the solids - there must be gaps, somewhere for them to grow, but I don't possess the magnification to see those tiny voids clearly.
I was a soldier, posted to a small hill, overlooking a harbour. My duty was to man the singular weapon which overlooked that harbour. It was summer, and the people around me couldn't care less about defending that particular ground. I knew that I had destroyed an enemy armored vehicle, I knew this, but I had not done it. The outpost itself was butted right against and up to a small interior-design office, owned by a lady who did not frequent the place, but let the general public use the space. I was wearing a stifling uniform, and the invasion from the public was just as unwanted as the invasion from afar.
Far down the hill, I tried to recruit those who looked able to help me, warning them of the impending invasion. They did not care to know, and did not want to hold the hill.
Today - Spaceship kinda things. This is a tiny sketch.
In particular, the video switching works stood out for me. I can't really explain it, but the experience of this kind of vision might be important for me.
"Trident, Discus, Scimitar, Lasso, Conch shell, Mace, Bow and arrow, Spear, Sword (Longsword), Shield, Bell, Pink lotus flower, Battle-axe, Thunderbolt, Elephant Goad, Snake, Rod, Spade, Vajra, Goblet, Hammer weapon, Iron Weapon, Weapon made out of thorns, Javelin, Dagger"
(list from this wikipedia article)
This is a small Unity sketch I made last week as an exercise in thinking about 'building a house for not understanding', (after picking up "The Poetics of Space", referenced by this excellent KillScreen article on Silent Hill 2.) I treated this as also a kind of painting exercise, overlaying things and discovering spaces.
This is an earlier screenshot of the unity scene in progress.
I took several screenshots from this as I was working/exploring it and applied the same photoshop processes to them - here's some of the outcomes:
There there. Little cat.
There are landscapes caused by slow aggregation of materials. They crash and sway into each other, borne by tides outside and inside.
We each 'own' a tiny layer in the arachnoid spaces, jammed in crystal blocks. At once jibbery, we quickly manifest voids, in order for others to fall to the warp.
Harriet also felt this pull. She knew the labyrinth well.
This is a test post, really.
Don't pay it much attention.
Fire falls from the sky.
The dead form new layers and structure.
Well, I've definitely got to sort out some of the transfer of my other posts to this new site. Actually, and hopefully - this will serve as the new notes collation for my current site - freeing up shinestrength to just fly off the handle.
Today's all about writing.
The Thesis has been pretty transformative - but right at the moment I need to settle into making a larger sketch. It's about five/six months til the end of this thing, and I need to settle down into the largest part of the research.
More later. Need to theme this up a little more, and see if it's any good for me.
I’ve been contributing to a collective open playspace up at PIGsty as part of my thesis work. It’s a continually evolving thing that’s been deeply interesting, and becoming a key part of my process.
There's been plenty of painting like activity going on as part of the Masters' at Colab.
This last one is work on shinestrength, and made in three.js.
One of my favourite things to do these past few months is take photos from the screen. Crystalline memories aplenty.
These are screengrabs from three.js, taken back into photoshop and processed. I've like the process of folding things back in to themselves.
Here’s a link to a collection of the painting details that I’ve been working on, on Flickr. It’s an easy way to scroll through some of the work I’ve been doing at a higher quality than tumblr can provide.
Every day when I sit at my desk here I’m surrounded by plastercine figurines, gradually and carefully being put together by Ezra. We had a brief conversation this morning which reminded me how cool they are, and that I should think about integrating them into the software. Below is a Space Whale. This is one of many creatures of awesomeness. In thinking about Ezra’s consistent aesthetic when it comes to creature design, I’m again reminded by the need for this thing to be creativity amplification, and not just presentation of assets designed and created by me.
I've been focusing on the painting aspect of this software for a while, but I should also think about what kind of entities inhabit those spaces, and what they have to say.
To that end I've put together a small piece of concept art this morning which might inform that direction. I imagine you might encounter these creatures similar to a creature in the movie Labyrinth - and they might have similarly cryptic things to say.
The other thing I’ve been doing is learning and building in openframeworks. I want to use the gaze of the participants to travel through any painting space, and in order to do that I’ve been using the addon ‘ofxFaceTracker’ - by Kyle Macdonald - or at least, hacking examples in order to see what kind of variables I can easily get out of that in order to affect some interaction. I’m not sure how any navigation of space will happen, and will probably diagram some ideas or create some quick sketches of how that might work soon.
Here’s a few images from my initial weekend of learning openframeworks.
The software would output a whole bunch of initial compositions, which I would then take in photoshop. Like I said in the earlier post, I’m really keen to get away from photoshop entirely, so I’m looking to process image in a similar way per pixel.
As well as this - Head orientation and whether the subject is looking or not. This is another necessary component.
Over the weekend as part of #Kiwijam I’ve been making my first steps into learning openframeworks as a way of producing paintings. I’ve made a really simple tool that generates raw compositions, which I’ve then taken back into photoshop and processed with my usual processes to finalise into paintings. I’m really looking at removing photoshop entirely, and will this week be learning more about how to manipulate pixel data and flesh out this drawing tool.
There's quite a few figures standing out from these ones for me.
I made this little diorama with a disused phone, after playing around in the excellent KoolTool - it felt like something these transient creatures would play on, given the chance.
During this break I’ve had the chance to (not completely) re-play Silent Hill 2. I’ve got a weird relationship with this game, having tried to constantly replay it through PCSX2 emulation - I ended up buying a PS2 so that I wouldn’t have to go through all the finicky setup things, and replaying the start over and over. Mind you, in replaying the start with broken video functionality it kind of reinforces that idea of playing early/broken builds of software as important. I can’t even remember when I first played it. I’m pretty sure as a teenager I played through Silent Hill 1 completely, on a dark stormy, somewhat drunken night, and can remember the living room I played it in.
The town of Silent Hill is a dream space which manifests aspects of the protagonist - James Sunderland’s self, memories, and unconscious.
The town has two apartment buildings - the first you enter are the Woodside Apartments. You find and develop a relationship with the internal building map here, and I admire how significant events were symbolically linked with the map, and how the flow inside that architecture is controlled and represented.
James won’t leave the grounds of the apartment building once entered, if you try to leave. He explains that he has to figure out what’s wrong with these buildings.
The second apartment building is entered by crossing the gap between buildings, high up on a fire escape ‘door to nowhere’ on the second level.
Looking at the maps represented two dimensionally, I thought about how level design made in this way could be considered as an escalating series of arrangements - asking James and the player to encounter greater and greater psychological terror in the same spatial mode - the mode of the banal, and how effective Silent Hill’s geometry and surfaces were at helping escalate my own terror.
[The following are personal notes from Wednesday. I considered editing these in order that they make more sense, but I’ll leave them unedited for now, and develop the ideas separately.]
I have to admit feeling slightly apprehensive, but without foundation. I’m totally healthy and fine, and am really going to enjoy this. I think a degree of apprehension comes with respect for the experience.
I saw butterflies on the plants when I went into the supermarket. I think this will be a good day.
Begin - Soccer. I see the sign “See more” on side of field. Strange day. 7 - 1, seems like an equally interesting thing.
+ 1 hour (10:17)
Tingling feeling - been listening to music recorded whilst at arch. One of the tunes is the most relaxing thing I’ve heard. super chill. Windy noises outside. Extremely. Probably construction fellas beginning the day of work, hear murmur rings.
10:24. Sensation bodily now.
Playing with pens in the light, thinking about how they promise a lot (with their highlighter shell) - but the colour inside only sometimes delivers that hue. Unless I’m painting hard glossy plastic, it’ll never be the same.
The material of the light of colour computer is what I should think about.
Noticing little things at 10:30. like, the play of drops on the wood(en boards outside - the panelling.) . The many colours of the stones on the path outside.
I am responding to light. being in light has a sensation attached, and my head turns.
[redacted]s computer sits next to mine and is even more reflective. A tiny white bird on the opening - welcome.
That tiny white bird is now the mouse pointer, and I gesture - my finger moves minimally. still feels tugged by the surface of the thing.
I stretch my body like it hasn’t been stretched - for some time.
11am. Drawing flower, considering the geometry and artistry of the thing. That reaching for the image ‘is’ the tension.
Let it flow from you. Do not stop it. Not by small means or bounds. Get the letterers wrongs. do not hold onto those things. The wind gusts as you write. Forcefully.
Let those little delicate geometries not be swayed in the sea of coke bottles and tip top ice-cream. The wake in the wash is still very much there.
Three icons are framed by the text window. Alan Watts, A melting head - a transcending one, and the words “Love and Marriage.”. I take a screenshot.
Share this video. Share it. I felt a small pull of sharing the images I had created, but they need to be in a garden for shelter. At least til they’re strong enough. But no! Nature is resilient and doesn’t have the same problems as I. I am nature. I’m not gonna second guess that piece of writing.
Writing is too slow - it seems, for the moment.
11am. Have a little laugh to myself when I consider the effectiveness of the paper, of course it is.
When I make a decision - there’s sort of like, ripples. There are no small experiences here.
It’s not that everything is grand and deluxe. It’s more like things ease into other things.
11.29. Tracepants. Under the watchful eye of coke, I have no concerns about my own body.
12.52. Alan Watts guided meditation end. (Awake in the wash, starry hands.)
You’re counting your own moments here.
(the signs say 1:07)
(not slept, but awake.)
Every room was a different thought process. Some about the vibration of stuff under my fingertips as it sort of peeled off my thinking.
Don’t feel exhausted. the source is not you.
Moments of depth appear transitory - and I find interesting when sometimes worked with, and complementary to - lightness.
Lightness and heaviness and tension and dark constriction are just happenings, and we can choose how we react to these.
I love this.
as a culmination of forces
I am free of this
but I am also not free.
flower bubble trapped
these marks I leave when I touch
2.04 Phrases such as “it’s the thought that counts” has multiple deep resonances in me. These ideas could be like self replicating structures, and form the ‘hard’ boundaries of the space.
When I see a fence, I don’t just see the fence. I see yellow. purple. swaying. rising. falling. <repeat>
I see all the imaginary structures that surround and imbue that fence with it’s histories.
When I say ‘ I built that fence’ - it’s basically the same as saying, I stood for that ideal. What are the fences we build around us, and what do they mean?—— This fence is made of (I have no idea) wood. It’s built with methods that I don’t know, and maybe even disagree with. But I’ll allow myself that foundation - what does it allow me to do?
2.13 shift of focus to cat
‘ I am a little cat, sitting on a little mat, breathing and breathing out, looking in and looking out.’
words drip too slow out of me, and seeing the reflections isn’t enough.
(2.27) Walking around outside feels a concrescence of those ideological structures in tension. We make these, whilst adrift ourselves. Nothing has foundation save for the ideal of that foundation.
In revealing those forces that in turn look at us, and - realising that moment of reflection is always a bit awkward, I think, and sometimes has violence whether it be intended or an unintentional.
structures of power.
sway in the wind.
(2.35) being able to laugh at myself again is great, even momentarily. (capt’s (cat) - a log thought)
if you already understand what it is you’re getting in for, when putting the thing in, the experience might not have value.
The value is inherently in the surprise in the thing.
one way of looking at these structures is that saying - how can you build your fence from this wood - it’s such limited means. It’s equally as viable a technology as anything is. I guess this what we call ’number 8 wire’ philosophy. This is itself an ideal being held up. On a shifting raft of things. As the captain of that ship - shiit.
what holds the ship afloat is ideas, and they don’t come from you.
they come from out. with out. and you
held adrift in a storm - sitting on a fence, I did the best I could to recreate this experience.
technology is primarily enabled in the aggregation of power structures.
twitter is creepy.
ideological spiral. how to maintain position. very windy, but dead calm.
Alan Watts - the spectrum of Love.
(to 45”), composed now, awaiting meet.
In setting up the first part of the project I’ve been looking into git, and how it can help me document the making, and think about structure. I had a very limited understanding of git (and still do) - but I think I basically understand how it can benefit the project, and have had some useful ideas as to how to use git from an artistic perspective.
When I first saw the structure of git (an instance of which can be read about here), I immediately was drawn to the tree-ness of the structure, and it reminded me of adventure games. My initial general idea is to be able to navigate the software from it’s inception point - and have complete freedom of perspective, and be able to move through builds/scenes/development as if it was being developed right in front of you. In any particular scene, it would initially appear undeveloped, and as it you move through it unfolded - the player would be following the ‘life’ of the thing. Git branches that developed into ‘dead ends’ - or incomplete features would be as important as finding the main trunk. Perhaps the decision to move through builds has to appear as choice to the player, but I still haven’t conceived of what that choice would look like.
It would look like life, whatever it is.
After talking about this idea with Hamish and Edison there were several other ideas that sparked off that one. Edison suggested tagging the git commits so an outside wrapper could access them - the player would frequently return to the wrapper as one way of engaging with the work, similar to the pseudo-dos-prompt-world of ‘Memories from a Broken Dimension’.
Talking with Hamish about assets that I make, that are put within the work evolved the idea where general structures would be suggested for development - perhaps abstract concepts as well as concrete ones. Ideas like ‘Love’ or ‘Joy’ - would be separately formed into separate subdirectories - Love_v01, Love_v02, Love_v03, as well as the concrete - Crocodile_v01, Crocodile_v02. This would enable an outside play participant to engage - and allow combinations of previous assets - (i.e. Love could be formed from Crocodiles and Joy, for example). This idea was also directly inspired by the previous plastercine play, simplified aggregation of limited technologies suggesting more than the sum of their parts.
Here’s a drawing which sums up my ideas about the structure of the thing at the moment. Those ‘points’ are build stages in the software, being fed by multiple inputs, part of which are those ideas I just wrote about. I imagine this diagram is moving, and based on your understanding of it, things are spatially shifting too.
Some further thoughts about structure. In considering the relation of my painting as a series of actions applied to a 2 dimensional surface, I also thought about Unity scenes. Any scenes generated in Unity are also kind of interlinked surfaces, and I’m wondering how these actions could relate to making within this space.
In Unity (pre-build scene)
I am here.
In Unity (a live, part-of-build scene)
Sometimes I am here.
In my Photoshop Paintings:
In Photoshop I affect the whole thing at once, and create depth. In Unity inevitably I have to work on a single element at a time - it’s impossible for me to work on logic and models, lighting, geometry, and sound at the same time. Isn’t it?
What if I could set up sensors in order to record a total expressive-ness that could translate into a complete Unity scene?
Last Wednesday I was reminded again of the reality that our spectrum of sensation is constantly being filtered, and our mind is constantly working in order to simplify that chaotic stream into something. I want Technology (as mind) that enables the sensing of every expression in action and mindset, as well as the context to affect the entirety of any artifact created. Context is definitely important. At the moment making Unity works usually involves working on one specific aspect or item of the entirety at once, and it doesn’t usually pay attention to the when and where of the making - but equally that’s a conscious choice, of what to include, and what to not. Maybe if you don’t catch everything you aren’t really making a decision to leave anything out. The unknown/known matrix is the map for this area of catchment.
The trials in the dark spectrum of your making should be part of your making. Or are you looking to present a glossy surface that gets consumed without thought? (For me, I know I’ve been writing and rewriting that last sentence a couple of times now, and the meaning has changed each time - refining and reworking things is my only rationale, but I’m leaving stuff out.)
Some of that context gets translated, and we get directors cuts, bonus additional features, subtitles, and documentaries, and public talks in linear media. Youtube is a narrow tunnel. I’m not concerned about the speed of intake - but in widening the possibility spectrum of the heard.
So I can sing or hum with just facial movements, thanks to Osculator and Ableton Live. Maybe I could dance to suggest the tone of the environment, and the speed of the movement could make form, and even rig that geometry, at the same time producing animations for it. How should I think of making that logic happen? Dictation seems like an interesting idea, but song structure too. Perhaps I hum a tone, then hum another tone lower, and this could parent two objects in my vicinity.
Last Wednesday I had a distinct felt sensation whilst considering relationships between several ideas. I know I felt their flow and ebb, and their own conflicts appeared almost solid, like boundaries. When I sensed these boundaries, my right hand, palm open to my left side, was raised to my bodies centre axis. In performing this action I acknowledge the conflict between ideas, and hold myself (as an idea) - still, awake in the wash.
Perhaps any recorded movements would have musical sections - in which separately limited ranges of things could be recorded. An instrument which transforms in your hands, or perhaps based on your orientation. Singing the scripting, grimacing the architecture, and dancing with and around the concepts and characters that emerge within. I want that!
Really glad this first semester’s work is (almost) over. I’m also looking forward to do some readings over the break in the form of PS2 titles.
The title of my thesis and the abstract looks like this at the moment:
Lieutenant Butterfly: Exploring Spatial Relationships in Psychedelic Dreamlike Experiences and Videogames through Ritualistic practice.
Taking a sketched based process to developing software while being informed by traditional art practices and notions of play, I will experiment with notions of materiality in digital space. Recalling memories of psychedelic experiences and describing childlike spatial perception, I aim to peer into the grain of the unseen architecture that sits between the interactive works I produce, and the participant who at the same time creates a relationship to it. This spatial order will be further informed and reworked through ritualistic practice and recalled dreams that expose my practice and working method in order to reveal a grain to this spatiality, and collapse and connect selected sketches and artifacts into a single entity.
So, one of the first steps for me now is file management. I need to clean up the sketches and files and arrange them into a master project. This will include the project I had constructed before coming into AUT. I think I will probably use github to do this, and have got some great advice this morning about setting this up from Hamish. Will see how I go.
I’ve been thinking that this should be completely public work in progress. I think this will also mean that any code, text, images, sounds, and all should be completely available for public download at any time, but I’m not sure how I will reconcile this availability with the element of mystery I frequently desire.
Within the software itself I will try to collapse and connect existing experiences. For me, this means existing Unity sketches, painted images, blog entries should all connect, as something similar to “LSD Dream Emulator”.
Each piece of existing blog text will probably also be collapsed into the software. As soon as possible, there will be a selection of public builds available, once I have performed the first collapse.
The following text is based on a reading of my own sketch - ‘Dragons’ - which you can try here.
I see a blank white screen, with a small black loading bar, and a ‘Unity’ logo. Above this logo reads the text: “Unity Web Player | Fun” Behind this screen rest my feet, and behind that, another screen lists IP addresses for my home network. I bring back this text window into my focus and type that statement. Switching back to the window now, the first thing that catches my attention is a energetic yellow train. It sits there buzzing repeatedly, and a plume of grey smoke is venting from the front of this train. It appears to be steam powered. Slightly forward of it, and to it’s right - sits a large pink, cartoon reptile. I know it must be a reptile of some kind as it appears to have stegosaurus-like plates protruding from it’s spine. It must be a dragon or a dinosaur, an older lizard, even though it is clearly cartoon like. I cannot see it’s eyes as it is facing away from me.
Deep Blue liquidity is beyond these two entities. I cannot make it out, and it’s not clear to me, but it seems an unsteady shifting of blueness there. The world is completely silent and still. As well as this excitable train, this stoic lizard, and this shifting blue I see large, yellow, bubble-shaped text, not fully in view, the letters “ELLO WORL”. I imagine a person with poor enunciation saying this now. I even imagine him saying that extremely slowly.
Time to push some other keys, apart from these ones I keep pushing rapidly to type this up. My keyboard has a set of arrow keys I know will be useful. Glancing at them I notice the ‘up’ and ‘down’ arrow keys appear fused together, and the ‘left’ and ‘right’ appear separate. I push the ‘right’ key.
‘AW.’ A sound plays, the dragon moves directly right. He seems to have left something behind, but I wasn’t able to see it quickly enough, as immediately the yellow, ceaselessly buzzing, silent train moves to it, and covers it up. I push a bunch more right arrows to make the dragon move over so I can see what they are.
‘AWAWAWAWAWAW’ the dragon sounds, and moves further right. I can see clearly what the things he has left over are. Reddish, Pinkish, vibrating numeric symbols from one angle, they also read as tracks. These tracks are disconnected, and throb silently in sequence, at the same speed as they had been laid. The train has now embedded itself within the face of dragon as I write this, and the viewable text now reads “O WORLD”.
I continue right, and why not? I guess I identify with this dragon, come to think of it, especially since I just unintentionally said ‘I’. If my eyes move right, my hand is pushing the right key, and the dragon moves right, it must be me who is, in fact, doing the moving. I am now the dragon.
I, as dragon, have reached a wall in the space. The Wall is thick, nondescript, and Blue. A different sort of blue from what I saw before - that shifting blueness now seems more purple to me. I can go right no more. Beyond the Wall is just aqua green. Nothing more than that. A slightly darker, greener than aqua green, triangle sits at the top right of the frame. I don’t remember putting that there. My deductive mind tells me that that is probably beyond the edge of a large quad, that contains an additive shader.
Time to go back the way I came. I take a random path across the shifting blue, knowing I can’t escape this frame. How can I be surprised by any of this? I see the wide open eyes of the dragon, who is me. I know he cannot recross his tracks. The now cut off text reads “HELL”
I begin to draw now, as dragon. I begin to frame the entire “HELLO WORLD” with pink tracks, shifting around the top of the text, in a playful way, reminding me of a banal city skyline. The excitable train lags behind me as it struggles to round those corners, and I manage to escape it for a time. That is until I stop at the end, and it catches up to me. I felt a little bit free in those small moments when the train wasn’t embedded in my face. I now notice the train, perhaps if positioned slightly lower, could probably fit in my dragon mouth, which has not shut this entire time. I think to myself - that’s probably enough of a reading, (as I look down and notice my word count) and I close the line of the track. In fact, I am not able to create a perfect ‘track loop’, and now sit uncomfortably in between the train, and it’s possible continuation loop. I imagine impatient train drivers and passengers wanting less staccato a journey. I also notice the track continues to pulse.
In my scoping paper I was considering the different points of view I was analysing from a recalled dream, and remarked how easily I was able to shift, and feel between them. I only read Stern on a very surface level, and considered his idea of movement, thought, and sensation as being part of a heightened embodied process. The sensation in the dream was so strong, but I am numb whilst I write this and read this ‘little’ work in the darkness. I feel apart from all this but at the same time, I was just the dragon, wasn’t I? The dragon who did not want self reflection? I’m still the dragon now? Stuck in that shifting blue world behind this word processor screen?
I am a dinosaur, technologically unequipped to deal with the shifting nature of the world.
My spine is exposed and bones protrude out from it.
My face is a cartoon surface, with my mouth open, silent. Perhaps.
I make bountiful small works that pulse in sequence and time.
The aggregation of these works sometimes amounts to a banal skyline.
That feels right. I even made an image of a banal skyline this semester.
If I was a person who did not want to engage in self reflection, would this recreated experience be what it felt like? Maybe I’ve unintentionally made a work that talks about my process, and the process of making work in the way I currently make it. Maybe this is better automatic drawing. My self doesn’t want self reflection, and my past process has probably created aggregate works as walls as much as revelations.
I considered Jim Crawford’s (2012) work - ‘Frog Fractions’, in relation to this too. I desired an immediacy - a feeling that ‘something is finally happening’ and thought, and talked, about how the continuous fourth wall breaking produced a certain kind of immediacy that I desired, and aligned to Stern. Maybe now that fourth wall breaking is a kind of candy surface that is only sometimes useful, and after you break through the shell, suck the life out of the thing, and leave it minimally pulsing, that calm and silence then it can show you its true value. Play, or reading, at over-extended length, sometimes reveals the true values of the thing. In videogames it’s not often you get a chance to stare into the void, reflectively and meaningfully, after the immediate action has finished.
‘Drop!’ - the second work I produced, and interrogated via public exhibition at the game developers meet up, perhaps showed me the lengths people will go to in exploring possibility space, or the lengths they will go to in over-extending. A programmer from a large game company was the person who spent most time with the work, but reading it at a technical, physics simulation level, he also sucked the life from that thing, and left it minimally pulsing too, and as he left, stated that he ‘felt he pretty much explored the possibility space of the thing’. I wonder what was going on inside his head?
Could he have been making calculations of ‘how he would do it’ whilst watching these things pulse on the screen? That guy’s mind must be real interesting, and at play. That guy behaved as a body - as in Stern’s ‘incipient activity’ - and he was an integral part of what made that work interesting for me, and spectators. I recall people coming up to me and telling me who this guy was, as if I should be impressed by the fact he was spending so much time with the work. I wasn’t interested in his social status, but he and the work, and his social status is part what made the play interesting for others that day. I’m making a lot of assumptions here, but the relationships that are being played on through the work there, invisible strings that bound the microcosm resonated when those ‘important members’ chose to play with them.
"When we move and think and feel, we are, of course, a body. This body is constantly changing, in and through its ongoing relationships. This body is a dynamic form, full of potential. It is not “a body,” as thing, but embodiment as incipient activity. Embodiment is a continuously emergent and active relation. It is our materialization and articulation, both as they occur, and about to occur. Embodiment is moving-thinking-feeling, it is the body’s potential to vary, it is the body’s relations to the outside. And embodiment, I contend, is what is staged in the best interactive art. “(Stern, 2013, 2)"
One of the reasons I’m at a university in the first place is the desire to have work presented to a community that accepts and partakes in the work - and to view emergent relations that arise from it. Embodiment as community is crucial to development as an artist. If I can also shed light, and make work about the invisible structures that make up the community - even representationally or spatially so - unless the influential members of any community engage with the work, most likely my career as an artist in any community will continue to be as outsider. I consider my history, and my future in time to be the same kind of materialisation and articulation of self - but also of leaving a trail of tracks that in turn reveal something about the space that surrounds me.
Coming back to process, I wonder if this process of reflective making reflects much more than I intend it to. If there was a grain and surface to the total complex forces within the environment, a highly reflective individual might, if the metaphysical laws allowed, be able to shine light into this grain from many angles, revealing and illuminating the many dark places. I wonder if the metaphors for the materiality of this process hold true - a completely reflective individual self becoming invisible, and the only means of deducing the individual’s presence is through the waves that they generate as they move and create through the wash. I think that as psychological spaces and relational architecture of community shift so frequently, this process of art making is more ‘dipping in’ into the process, like weather reading or shamanism, or like sectional studies of psychological spaces. Currently I must be simply be investigating my own, but I wonder what might change if I was investigating a larger population, or even a small group of individuals. I think with a larger group the process becomes something like investigating drama, but with an excavation focus instead of a creation focus.
My last serious reading was the film Synecdoche, New York (2008). This film I find resonant due to this complex process exhibited by most of the characters in the film, and the affect is has on their lives. In creating and dreaming their lives the stage and structures are revealed and wrap and fold into all parts of their existence, til it becomes harder and harder to tell what is outside of these spaces. Is it possible to create in this way simply with software and have those same warping, psychedelic moments? Certainly, current software and media exists that has a pervasive influence on culture, and on a population’s perception of reality. I wonder if I’m simply looking to plug into this hierarchy utilising a simplistic technique, or if any intervention or break can be staged at all.
Pinchbeck, D. (2003). Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism (1st edition.). New York: Broadway Books.
Benjamin, W., Tiedemann, R., Eiland, H., & McLaughlin, K. (2002). The Arcades Project. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press.
Jim Crawford on Making Games More Mysterious | Post Product Dev on WordPress.com. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2014, from http://postproductdev.com/2014/04/07/jim-crawford-on-making-games-more-mysterious/
Moore, B. (2014) You’ll Want to Play This Game — If You Can Ever Find It. Retrieved April 04, 2014, from http://www.wired.com/2014/04/frog-fractions-2-kickstarter/
TwinBeard Studios (2012) Frog Fractions [Flash videogame]. Retrieved from http://twinbeard.com/frog-fraction
Kaufman, C. Jonze, S. Kimmel, S. Bregman, A. (Producer), & Kaufman, C. (Writer/Director). (2008). Synecdoche, New York [Motion picture]. United States: Sony Pictures.
Stern, N. (2013). Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance (1st edition.). Gylphi Limited.
Learning about FaceOSC + Osculator + Ableton Live. Heavily inspired (and enabled) by the experiments of Kyle Mcdonald. Still looking for those voices from the deep.
I’ve been working with plastercine as an internal conversation I’ve been having in regard to materialism and the arcade machine - the means of interacting with any work. I imagine Hardware and software bridged by invisible structures in tension, and what kind of tensions are interesting whilst at play with any thing? When we work digitally, the a screen is affecting light’s travel towards us, and has it’s own internal architecture. So what, if any, external architecture could mediate this relationship.
Traditional arcade machines enable a kind of looking in, or inquisitive gaze. Attention is specifically directed downwards, and traditional panelling usually frames the screen to give a multiplicity of representation. It’s not just the physical screen being housed, but for me the arcade machine acts as a kind of case for a mysterious entity. The LCD flat panel world collapses this entity, and higher screen resolutions sometimes destroy (for me) those early crystalline memories, the feeling of peering through into stained microcosms, that vibrated and tried to escape their structure.
In the first embodiment presentation I left several pieces of plastercine on the table whilst I was doing the talking component. Afterwards I found several models that were created by participants - I wasn’t directing attention to them specifically, and the models themselves were interesting. I also left a toy arcade machine on the table.
I documented all of the models created, and have been using them to inform playful prototypes of imaginary interactive devices. The first steps of this are extremely playful, looking at people and scale, and thinking about this arcade machine memory.
These small sculpts are using only hand shaping, and a singular ballpoint pen. Buttons/Protrusions from this thing are interesting to me. I recently bought 500 more grams of blue and red plastercine - I may require more, and will sculpt with this material further.
Leaving these these things out in public space - they get played with. I love this relationship to the thing, and this chance of anonymous play, or play on a playground. I brought a bunch of plastic animals and placed them on the central desk, and the play that has surrounded these things is fantastic. A mysterious (unknown to me, at least) player has been making the toys talk, with a fantastic sense of storytelling. Pulling apart the play here into it’s components is less interesting to me than the feeling of what it does to me. When stories are told in a collective space, without your agency - you feel a necessity to return, lest you miss out part of the story. I haven’t been in University this last week, so I asked Alexey to send me the photos he had started to take of the action there. It would be amazing if the toys left the table and started their own lives and continued their drama elsewhere.
Finally, I’ve been looking at tensegrity structures in order to inform the sculpture, and further physical making. These structures are hard components, held together by tension, similar to the some structure of the human body. Perhaps some playful planting of buttons and knobs inside these plastercine works could be interesting, but maybe even under the skin of the thing, so a necessary massage might have to be exacted upon the thing in order to elicit interaction with it.
I’ve been rewatching Existenz recently too to reimage this umbilical relationship we have with technology. I feel our traditional controller/screen relationship has these invisible ties. I also feel that generally the film is kind of a commentary rather than a plan for the future, but reading Cronenberg’s technology in relation to bodies would be a useful engagement.
We were sitting in class trying to construct a diagram of our research. We were encouraged to think through a dissatisfying experience we had with a product or service, and map the separate layers of our experience simultaneously. From our perspective - what happened, our emotional graph, and ruminate on why we felt this way. The presentation was not that immediately engaging, (and vaguely condescending) and certainly not as exciting the array of toys that we had provided in front of us. A massive box was filled with lego pieces, feathers, glue, paper, pens - a craft box of goodness. We were encouraged to use our imagination in which to create an imaginary object that would solve the problems of the negative experience.
We constructed this lego thing, a multi dimensional problem solver. It solved the vague problems, and sure it was valuable - But more interestingly, and parallel to this experience, we were drawing. Drawing communally, secretively. Between myself and Alexey we had an unspoken design communication that was happening extremely quickly, and very fun. It started with a duck.
This duck was in danger, and so sprouted arms, then super powers. He was a Super Duck. Therefore, he must have had a Super Vehicle, and a super logo. Since we had only red and green pens, the siren on the top of the Super Vehicle was red and green, therefore it must be located in Italy. Mario was then drawn, but without hands, and his ‘fallen off’ hands turned into crabs which ran up and got eaten by - a Dragon?
This Dragon seemed to be interesting to me, and so - without talking I inquired of Alexey further - does this dragon equal a Stegosaurus plus a Tunnel? Yes, drew Alexey. Also, he drew that trains would come out of this tunnel. I drew further - can there be two dragons connected to each other with train tracks? Yes, drew Alexey. They can also throw up train tracks at each other.
This I found hilarious, and sticky. Something about this playful drawing inspired me to immediately go and make a preliminary Unity sketch exploring these dragons. In the same week I had been playing and thinking about the game Bubble Bobble, by Taito - and this quick, candy sketch was one I became excited about, and quickly produced.
Euphoric hyperactive production. Dragons, Train, Tracks, Logic. Peow. Peow. I made and painted the assets in Sculptris. If I spent time doing things the normal production route I would’ve lost the euphoric tail, and probably wouldn’t have continued the thing.
I tried lots of variations - dragons throwing up tracks, and dragons throwing up dragons, and found that there was much more exploration to be had with this thing, possibly as some sort of drawing tool. Actually this sketch marks my first attempt to collapse the three seemingly disconnected worlds of me into related space/ The text I write, the abstract paintings I make, and the candy unity sketches I produce. In presenting this diagram as part of the Serious Play talks I remarked that this play is like taking cross sections of self, and a portrait of sorts.
I’m sitting here, pissed off - starting to watch Synedoche, a movie I haven’t seen in a while. It’s been ages since I’ve been writing, and I feel like the momentum I had at the start of semester is completely gone. [redacted] That’ll change - I hope.
Right now the last thing I feel like doing is writing about how the many aspects of childlike play I have engaged with this semester have affected process, but I really have to sit down and do it. This is a real problem with me. I leave everything til the last minute.
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Synecdoche is now looking at his own stool. God — I feel like I’m doing that with all this aggregation process. Now he’s with his wife - they’re in real trouble and they’re at a psychologist. His wife wishes he was dead. What a fucking nightmare.
“I don’t know why I make it so complicated.”
“That’s what you do.”
I think I have to read over my last reflective practice statement to make this make sense. I feel like I went off the deep end there. I started singing everything, saying everything poetically, and making promises I can’t keep.
A house is on fire. A real estate agent is walking through a prospective tenant.
“I like it, I do - I’m just really concerned about dying in the fire.”
Maybe this whole thing is me trying to not concentrate on one thing. Perhaps this fluttering between all the things, all the time, never putting myself down on one thing - that’s the thing. Or not. Or it is. Even right now I’m looking at my words and trying to be clever about the things I put down. Like “Flutter.” Pick up on that, reader - note it down. Make sense of it. Note it down in your memories of me.
“I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know. We’ll talk when I get back. Okay?”
Am I just going to quote this whole film?
“I think Adele’s right when she says I’m not doing anything real.”
“I’m afraid of dying, and I want to do something important whilst I’m still here.”
Edward Caden says it’ll change my life. If I come to university. If I come and be part of this Masters programme I can probably change my life.
I’ve been seeing time strangely too, bout time I told you that. I feel like I’m in a spiral headed upwards. This is my second time round the same time corridor, and I’m seeing people I knew before embodied in those around me. I’m interacting with them differently now, if that matters.
I actually feel like I’ve lost the most passionate years of my life. Others have found the thermals and popped up above the clouds, and I’ve collapsed, repeating a cycle of time and living in a house of fire, and maybe all the dreams that circle through the university are false and empty.
“Because I feel - a longing.”
Adele in the magazine now. Caden’s sick and he sees imagined advertisements for Adele’s happier life. Much happier without him.
Now he’s getting a grant.
“..finally put my real self into something.”
“The idea is to do a massive theatre piece. Uncompromising. Honest.”
He’s talking now about the possibility of putting this into the play.
Perhaps this it for me. The turgid difficulty of the making. Perhaps all these little sketch experiences that I’ve been building are actually frustrating little anxieties.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about dying lately…” “…that’s what I want to explore. We’re all hurtling towards death.”
Synecdoche is the story of one man’s fight with his health, his family, and his creative spirit. Now he’s fighting for his life in Germany. Ugh - That feels so wrong. I’m suddenly reminded of Wolfenstein 3D. He walks around the set now, with hundreds of spinning plates. ( I just wrote platers, but corrected it to plates.)
Why did they have to write 3D on the end of everything? - I guess we’re about to see that again with VR. I can’t wait for the slew of VR titles. Actually I think there’ll be a real good thing there. Maybe I’ll even make something in VR one day.
“My father died.”
Most people consider the role I play to be something along the lines of chaos. Chaotic Neutral. Chaotic Evil. What is wrong with exploring the possibility space outside of definition? Mind you, when it comes to formalities I can’t forget the fear. Not too long ago I stared into the eyes of a mother who lost a son - whom I knew, and had no words to say, not even those shitty formalities.
Caden’s daughter’s diary in Synedoche exists as a beautiful temporality. So many little touches here that resonate with me. Now he’s here in..
“I won’t settle for anything less than the brutal truth. Brutal.”
“When are we getting an audience in here? It’s been seventeen years.”
All these little post it notes. You keep biting your tongue.
Interviewing for participants now. The guy who follows him. Hire me, and you’ll see who you truly are. Man as a mirror.
He’s the voice, this weird fella - of his own mind. He gives him an address - so he can see him lose even more of himself. For research.
The blimps that fly around the world are really strange. All those outside things that are happening whilst you’re on a project are so outside, you couldn’t care less. There were three solar flares the other day, I heard about them from Don before my extremely messy presentation. If the end of the world happened right now how would I care? Stuck up my own ass with this thing. This whole thing.
When we design, things bloom out of control. So many rooms get unexplored, and we have a carve a singular path through any thing. You might never see all of it. I don’t want you to replay it to get a 100% ruin. Before you start to think that ruin was a clever turn of phrase on my part, it was a complete accident, and auto-suggested by this writing software.
At any point in Synecdoche - the stage is never apparent or fully realised, continuously fourth wall breaking. Banal things are just happening, perhaps all in favour of revealing the stage in one continuous unfolding. But I don’t even want to draw attention to the fact this is a similarity in the ‘creative process’ - continuous revealing, because doing so feels like I’ve missed the point.
Caden’s mother is dead now too.
All this watching other people develop, fly off and and fall in love and die can get tiring.
That feels like a tweet. I might just send that off to my public side.
“Can you understand loneliness?”
“I dunno - I feel okay mostly. Fucking might help.”
Pretty Caden. Small kindnesses.
That really is one of the most touching moments for me in the whole film.
If I could put all of myself in - all the duplicities and complexifications then maybe I can finish this project. But Synedoche seems to stage an unfinished finished project. One of the verb usages of ‘project’ considering the throwing forward of the action. Casting forward, impelling movement. I had stopped.
“He lives in a half world between stasis and half-stasis. Time and chronology is confused. Up until recently he’s strived valiantly to make sense of his situation, but recently he’s turned to stone.”
Now it’s the preacher scene, a mock funeral now - saying surprising things that resonate with Caden and us.
“And the truth is - I feel so angry, and I feel so sad.”
“No one wants to hear my misery cause everyone has their own.”
Everyone’s disappointing - when you know someone.
Why are we all crying in the dark? It’s all disappointing.
I can’t even write clearly about the last part of this movie since I’m so invested in it.
I uncontrollably let out a singular sob in the fading whiteness and darkness as the word is said and quickly muffle it so that noone hears it.
Morning now. A peaceful cat is sleeping next to me. I’ve made my excuses and now have removed this particular abject experience from my throat and now can focus on the rest of the documentation. Hopefully that’s enough.
Tried out Filter Forge - it's quite bloopy.
In my last reflective statement I was talking about using the process of automatic drawing as a form of portraiture to excavate my methodology, and attempt to excavate and aggregate in order to transform, in the attempt to construct a particular video game. Although this seemed initially useful, I have begun to open the range of what play can reveal when used as a practice directly.
Firstly, I continued to make these automatic images, and probably will continue to make them - in order to throw grass to reveal the wind, in choosing a particular direction. I felt that in making these I was excavating, but not reconstructing - seeing where the wind was going, but not resolving into something. The image I felt had hit a kind of bedrock.
Slightly frustrated, letting off steam was obviously really important to me at this time, being tied in particular to my identification with necessary “experience breaks” - from my last reflective statement. An automatic ‘maker night’ using Unity was helpful and resulted in constructing a new artifact — “Fun” - a simple touch/tablet/mouse play experience in which you could pop bubbles. Together with several others we recorded sounds, and on each bubble pop, a sound was randomly chosen to play. There were also particle explosions on bubbles popping. It was an extremely simple, playful process, and helped me identify creative values in this stage in creating. It should be easy to do, simple to create - with simple interactions. It should also encourage reflection on mystery, and childlike reverence of magic. When I used to play games as a kid there were a whole bunch of urban legends that encircled them, and I want to make these kinds of experiences for others.
Additionally, other play has helped me begin to reconstitute an overall diagram of my process. One example was through a playful practice in another paper - Research Methods. In this exercise we were asked to try and physically model our research design process using plastercine, popsicle sticks, paper, and other craft materials. This was incredibly helpful and helped me identify an initial view of flow through the process, and helped identify a certain performative action in some stages. Incidentally, the plastercine itself was great to play with, mould and dissect. Since there were multiple colours which I squished into a ball, when cutting it with a knife produces 2 dimensional slices remarkably similar to my first paintings. Intuitively I recognised the connection, and noted consciously the suggestion that my 2d paintings could also be folded and extruded through to produce form. I also recognised that due to the materiality of the plastercine, the separate colours would merge into a fleshy pink if played with “too much”. All of these were not new realisations to me, but served as kind of helpful reminders - a parallel dialogue with a physical material that feeds information about my digital processes back to me.
I decided to merge “Fun”, (the previous artifact) and this new diagrammatic process into a new work-in-progress, that I titled “Drop!”. In doing this I was looking at one stage in the diagram that had emerged from the play experience with the craft materials, one in which I had to “drop and catch” bits of plastercine through a rolled up piece of paper. “Drop!” used the same popping bubble component of “Fun”, but included more dropping bubbles that the player could hover a mouse over a swirling vortex of scanned-plastercine, which I’m aligning to the “automatic drawing out” part of my process. The title “Drop!” , and even the action itself was informed by reading Richard Serra’s verb list (and seeing some of his video work), and seeing that one verb in particular stand out. Noted games such as Katamari Damacy, whose primary verb (in K.D.’s case, “rolling”) becomes amplified to produce and experience the verb in a new way, and on a new scale. This was my attempt to resolve an artifact in a similar way. I employed psychedelic imagery (rainbow patterns, depth buffer clearing/unclearing, and particle ‘catsplosions’) as the external skin of the artifact to encourage this childlike wonder.
As a necessary trauma for the ‘work-in-progress’ I demonstrated the artifact at the NZ Game Developers monthly meetup. There was a mix of interesting interactions that I partially documented with photography, and whilst also performing an ‘antagonistic observer’ role (approaching people and pretending I didn’t know what it was, asking them to speculate on what it was, and what parts of it “did”) - I enjoyed the played outcome as a kind of performance. The game doesn’t conform to usual standards of game design, with no imperatives (save for the poetic verb title) or goals, and so participants offered several different views of “what was going on” in that limited possibility space. Some thought they were saving cat souls, others thought they should maximise the number of ‘catsplosions’, and others still were visibly concerned with the physics simulation, and the ‘strange fishes’ that followed your cursor.
I don’t think it actually resolves the intention, that is - my ‘process diagram’ as a whole, and so I think the next step is to make a similar artifact which does it’s best to communicate mystery, and at the same time communicate the kind of overall process description as I intend it to. I’ve already made some symbolic diagrammatic drawings which could be leads into the space of this next artifact.
The external space is also a concern, and hopefully I can address this somehow too. Recently I’ve been playing and ‘looking into’ a standup arcade booth, and am interested in the kind of relationship it has with the video game and in making a connection to a participant. This is connected with reading Walter Benjamin - ‘The Arcades Project’ - not as a misinterpretation of ‘arcade’ as a literal link, but something that has revealed itself to me through a Literature review, of Psychedelic and Ritual texts. Benjamin talks about the architecture of the Paris Arcades and how they helped create the ‘dream’ spaces of modern capitalism and consumerism through the populations traversal of and in these spaces. This relationship between movement and the childlike aspects expressed at the meet up and the artifact itself is fertile territory.
I had this idea of melting something out of the screen, oozing into the space. Broken LCD crystalline liquid pouring out from under a screen as you pop bubbles. But perhaps that’s more helpful as a poetic vision than a physical artifact - a certain understanding of metaphysics rather than literal materiality. I can’t resolve that dream yet.
The other thing that’s been immediately helpful is going for meditative walks. I walk in a large circular path that surrounds the Panmure Basin, which is ringed by streetlights, and has a multiple stage fitness trail for the public. I used to run frequently and, when training for a half-marathon I had an internal mantra. It was “Not gonna give in, never going to fall down.” A 4/4 rhythm, it matched my gait. Whilst repeating this I ran past people, and I usually would avoid them entirely and quickly. There’s a kind of confrontation that happens when you meet people in the dark whilst running, and it absolutely depends on the temperament of the person you meet. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s easy to make that ‘I’ contact.
Early in the morning, and halfway round the lake I found myself repeating this old mantra, but it changed.
“Not gonna give in, never gonna fall down”
“Not gonna give in, never gonna fall down”
“Love, Hope, Compassion, Trust — Love, Hope, Compassion, Trust…”
At this same time my fingers reflexively reacted. Arriving at each thing, each finger touched the thumb, in turn. Then the reverse, going back through the nouns. I played with different combinations of this, as well as trying to feel those concepts, and not say them or see them as words. I walked the rest of the lake circle as the sun rose and made the world lighter. I dropped all of this when I reached the end of the circle, and finished off the walk singing “All you need is love” by the Beatles - internally, and still to the gait rhythm as I climbed the hill and exited the park. I’m on the edge of laughter mostly whilst doing this – and elation, the non-serious-seriousness of it all.
It wasn’t as if this play ritual made it easier when I came into contact with people, and there’s still a high apprehension in the darkness, in the morning as shadows bloom into view. ‘I’ was dilated, and felt drastically, increasingly more exposed as I approached people, and felt the need to keep up my defences, lest they see the openness in my eyes. I didn’t want to pop my self-bubble, and let my insides spill out on the same walkway where I had seen discarded, cracked eggs on a walk, the week earlier.
I’m embracing this return to intuition after confronting texts talking about having a reverence for ritual, not necessarily compartmentalising it into it’s components, and in my playful/performative/ritualistic/artistic practice this reflection has been helpful in mapping my previous path, seeing the streetlights turning on from afar, and finding space and place for all these seemingly disparate texts and artistic residue.
Texts and Bibliography
Benjamin, W., Tiedemann, R., Eiland, H., & McLaughlin, K. (2002). The Arcades Project. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press.
Bell, C. (2009). Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions—Revised Edition (Reissue edition.). New York: Oxford University Press, USA.
Taito (1986) Bubble Bobble [Arcade Various videogame]
The Jellyfish That Holds a Key to Immortality - YouTube. (n.d.). Retrieved May 09, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMOkXkw5TKc
Jim Crawford on Making Games More Mysterious | Post Product Dev on WordPress.com. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2014, from http://postproductdev.com/2014/04/07/jim-crawford-on-making-games-more-mysterious/
This was an attempt at diagramming my design process as a play experience - using a singular-verb action. (referenced to the verb list of Richard Serra) I’m a big fan of the play experiences we get from games like Katamari Damacy - a childlike-ness full of secrets. So much fun watching people smile at this.
Embodiment - Scoping Paper:
There are various kinds of moving experiences we have that affect a bodily sensation. If those sensations are extremely strong, and we are allowed reflection on them, those experienced or recalled moments may impact our lives deeply.
What should I consider when creating opportunities for these experiences to manifest? In daily life we are sometimes able to choose, or expect the various degrees of trauma within those experiences. We could consensually – play a Survival-Horror themed videogame, or watch a particularly harrowing emotional movie, or engage in a performative act that puts a degree of stress on our own bodies. Colloquially, we describe things beyond our traumatic limit as too ‘hard’ or ‘tough’. Moving through and within those ‘tough’ experiences isn’t easy. What value do they have?
Additionally, there are kinds of experience in which we don’t get a choice or control – sometimes when we submit to a videogame or a movie, to a performance, we can sometimes be surprised by the unfamiliar and the ‘hard’. Unless we adopt regular lucid dreaming practices, it can be argued that people don’t exhibit a degree of control over their dreams – and these too can be traumatic. Sometimes when not given the choice about an expected ‘hard’ experience, that experience could still hold value for us, but it requires reflection and possibly proper context to uncover that value.
A recent dream I had began with a lanky man I knew. He wanted to be killed, by arrow, in a public square.
He asked a woman he knew, a competitor of his, to do it.
He arrives, waits patiently in the square, and right before the woman releases the arrow, I snap to his consciousness.
Before I was disembodied, now I’m within his body. Waiting to be shot by an arrow.
So now I wait, on edge. Two arrows, missing their target, shatter on the cobblestones.
I didn’t know she had it in her, I feel. My gut twists.
I feel the moment when third arrow hits, and then I leave the man.
I follow along the trajectory of the last arrow, and I see the woman, aiming at the man, bow still raised after the third shot was taken. I am her, and I feel her anguish in shooting.
I see her face contort into bizarre expressions. Strange mouth movements beyond human range.
Incantations of Love, I think.
I leave the woman and am now disembodied, in front of the man’s face as a large red flower bursts from his mouth.
(Broken) Relationships in Space.
What value does this dream have for me? I didn’t get to choose this degree of trauma, and I felt it was also somehow meaningful. I found it helpful initially to look at the spatial relationships that were contained within it. The dream itself wasn’t from one perspective, but from multiple. It varied – from a disembodied observer, to an exact embodiment of the waiting man, with all his tension and feeling, to an outside, but still within, the woman. This gradient of experience has a familiar relationship in media and camera view – an omniscient, but internal perspective, a first person viewpoint and a third person viewpoint. Film and Videogames both extend this relationship beyond the person to the community, and sometimes the universal – a view of a city as an establishing shot for a drama, or alternatively a simulation style videogame’s city map. These could be read in similar ways, but are experienced differently. Both are moments in movements through the possibility space of their respective networks.
The subversion of expectations in both mediums is an important part of what makes this movement happen.
Nathaniel Stern describes this spatial embodied movement using the interlinking ideas of – Movement, Sensation, and Thought.
“When we move and think and feel, we are, of course, a body. This body is constantly changing, in and through its ongoing relationships. This body is a dynamic form, full of potential. It is not “a body,” as thing, but embodiment as incipient activity. Embodiment is a continuously emergent and active relation. It is our materialization and articulation, both as they occur, and about to occur. Embodiment is moving-thinking-feeling, it is the body’s potential to vary, it is the body’s relations to the outside. And embodiment, I contend, is what is staged in the best interactive art. (Stern, 2014)”
In the film ‘Enter the Void” (Noé, 2010), a young man is shot and killed by police, after a confrontation in a Japanese club. In his disembodied state he drifts in and out of his past memories, and his still-alive sister’s extremely victimised social situation and relationships. Through this continuous change in disembodied viewpoint we are allowed identification with the actors in this specific network, as well as the city itself, as well as what it represents in fantasy. As the viewer and character, we simultaneously eventually go through a kind of symbolic rebirth – a unique kind of resolution, similar to the final ‘starchild’ ending sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
There is a similar movement of relation, and pushing through ’tough’ spaces – with a drastically lighter tone, happening in the video game ‘Frog Fractions’ by Jim Crawford. In this game you are presented as a frog on a lilypad, eating various bugs. It adopts a kind of ludicrous educational game as a facade – and it quickly reveals a ‘false ceiling’ – where you, as the frog – go on a journey through the bug universe, at first being reviled for your bug killing actions and ending up in bug court, eventually becoming bug president. At each stage of the game, the gameplay adopts drastically different genres, at some times a platformer, sometimes a vertically scrolling shooter, and a text adventure, as well as a few others.
This continuous breaking of experience, through the ‘false ceiling’ Jim Crawford cites as a necessity for mystery, in the age of video game walkthroughs and the culture of ‘looking it up’ online. His second version of the game is currently in production, and utilises meta-game elements, such as not revealing the release date, nor under what title it is going to be released – to enable this important element of mystery.
The ‘immediate’ quality of experience is something that is gained through these breaks, whether they be through subversion of expectations or emotional content tied the experience itself. To me, this gives me the feeling of ‘something is finally happening’ – and puts me firmly in the presence of the experience.
Ritual has presented itself to me as a possibly method of going forward in understanding the value of these particular experiences. I believe it has two purposes to do with constructing fuller, embodied experience. One is in the making of the experience itself, in whichever media it chooses to manifest itself in, and the other is in the structure of the experience itself.
In my initial readings about ritual, Bell (2009) reminds us that “ [ritual] ..It is not some sort of pure technology that smoothly and neatly works to socialize human beings according to general laws.”
This reminder suggests to me that not only do I need to identify my own purpose in constructing the media or experience through ritual, but also not to rely on formulaic structure to be applied.
For my own project, I initially started following (Lieutenant) Butterfly symbolism as a means of deducing whether or not I was on ‘the right path’ – when I saw butterflies at any stage, in particular examples that were tied with military symbolism, I deduced that I was on the right path. If I follow this symbolism and theme logically through the experience I construct, it would suggest a transformative process. A concern whilst in the midst of this process might be – who or what is affected by this transformative process, and whom does any constructed experience benefit?
This is especially important if there is a limited degree of consent to partake in the experience. Bell talks about the way cultures can construct ritual in order to form idealised subjects – with subtle, or not so subtle pressures of conformity. In excavating this subject further I hope to find ways in which I can navigate this transformation theme, in it’s construct and in the specific implications of the experience enabled.
Moore, B. (2014) You’ll Want to Play This Game — If You Can Ever Find It. Retrieved April 04, 2014, from http://www.wired.com/2014/04/frog-fractions-2-kickstarter/
Stern, N., & Art, A. I. (2014). The Implicit Body as Performance :, 44(3), 233–238.
Lewis, S. E. (2008). Ayahuasca and Spiritual Crisis: Liminality as Space for Personal Growth. Anthropology of Consciousness, 19, 109–133. doi:10.1111/j.1556-3537.2008.00006.x
TwinBeard Studios (2012) Frog Fractions [Flash videogame]. Retrieved fromhttp://twinbeard.com/frog-fractions
Bell, C. (2009). Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions–Revised Edition (Reissue edition.). New York: Oxford University Press, USA.
Noé, G. (2010). Enter the Void. Drama, Fantasy.
Not so serious. This was a short play experiment I made last night - made possible and great with the audio talents of Ben, Alastair and Edison.
Is this linked in any way to the research? The experience breaks could, and possibly should affect changes in tone. I’ve been reading more on Frog Fractions - a piece of writing by Jim Crawford on Mystery in Games, and I’m real excited to see where he takes Frog Fractions 2, given this line of thinking.
My research is based around my existing videogame in development – working through and understanding its continued development through analysing notions that surround transformation or transcendence, through transformative, or perhaps ritualistic practice-led work.
Most of the initial texts I encountered lead me into theories and propositions surrounding play – and through these I identified strongly with several concepts; the concept of secrecy within play as an entanglement, transformation of identity, and the utilisation of mimicry. Identification with these theories was determined by my strong attachment to the butterfly symbolism I am aligning with the videogame.
Intuitively, I began to write poetically, and experiment visually with the idea of identity through portraiture. I would take digital photos of myself, and explore and alter their content without adding what I believed was a significant measure (additional photos, or external reference) of outside image sources to the file. I used the content-aware scaling tools in Photoshop to ‘pull apart’ the image, revealing and interpolating the stretched pixel data. These experiments were resolved through intuition, when I felt the image had transformed from being myself to ‘the other’ – a transformed subject. I am currently continuing these experiments to see how fragments can be pulled from the depths of these images and translated, in content specific roles, in level design and world creation, and additionally, narrative.
Through discussion, practice, and performative presentation, as well as through specific games I have encountered - this degradation and reconstitution process, this ‘throwing off’ of the medium’s logic, has been revealed to me as a kind of movement through videogames, that is, when I feel like ‘something is finally happening’ – narratively as well as spatially. For the time being, I will refer to these moments as breaks in the experience, of meditative, possibly repetitive barriers that, when broken through – activate an ‘awake’ experience, with an immediate quality of narrative, and embodied interaction. I am also currently interested in how I can adequately connect, construct, or arrange these moments, and what part ritual has to play in the act.
Somewhat related to these breaks in experience is reading that surrounds individuals who take part in the Ayahuasca tourism ceremonies in the Amazon – specifically concerned with issues exposed by their drastic transformation in worldview, lack of cultural context to process the experience, and the subsequent reconstitution and mental health issues.
Ritual will require further excavation and identification as I revise and concentrate the methodology I’m using. Recent discussion has made clear that the relationship that I have to this kind of work is somewhat of a reversal of usual videogame construction – working through self, breaking down self, to produce worlds, to discover narrative, as opposed to the traditional priority of narrative, and then to world and character design specifics.
Additionally, technically, at first I thought I was interested in experimenting with an alternative kind of interaction device like the Oculus Rift or the Kinect, and potentially I am still open to either of them – but the need for quick prototyping (which for me, means through quick image creation) means presently I am concentrating my focus on the ways videogames, with current, cheap controllers, and existing platforms can be utilised effectively to enable the kind of experiences I have described.
I feel like I’ve partly uncovered a pattern for methodology which is extremely useful in locating myself within the process of videogame and art making. Prior to the discussion and analysis of these play experiences, I’ve mostly utilised intuitive processes of doing this, and the textual reference and tension of producing surrounding documentation for this, and other papers has been valuable in the continuation and evolution of this process.
Huizinga, J. (1955). Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon.
Sutton-Smith, B. (2005). Play and Ambiguity. In The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology (pp. 296–313). Retrieved from http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=10659
Moore, B. (2014) You’ll Want to Play This Game — If You Can Ever Find It. Retrieved April 04, 2014, from http://www.wired.com/2014/04/frog-fractions-2-kickstarter/
Stern, N., & Art, A. I. (2014). The Implicit Body as Performance :, 44(3), 233–238.
Lewis, S. E. (2008). Ayahuasca and Spiritual Crisis: Liminality as Space for Personal Growth. Anthropology of Consciousness, 19, 109–133. doi:10.1111/j.1556-3537.2008.00006.x
OutSide Directors Company (1998) LSD Dream Emulator [Playstation 1 videogame]
TwinBeard Studios (2012) Frog Fractions [Flash videogame]. Retrieved from http://twinbeard.com/frog-fractions
Yesterday’s embodiment presentation revealed something important to me - in terms of my own desire, and in terms of my own production.
I really want the feeling of videogames I make to be ‘Something’s actually happening now!’, and I used examples from Earthbound, and LSD Dream Emulator to show that, through some peculiar *breaks* in experience — changes in logic or usual activity, a kind of fourth wall breaking, is actually what I enjoy about play experiences, and this to me is when the videogame moves forward, and progresses. I related this to a kind of transcendent experience, gained through a break through a spatial logic of experience (First person, Third Person, Objective Overview, Dualities)
I drew much of this out from Nathaniel Stern, and his theory of Embodiment as a continuously shifting ground.
“Embodiment is a continuously emergent and active relation. It is our materialization and articulation, both as they occur, and about to occur. Embodiment is moving-thinking-feeling, it is the body’s potential to vary, it is the body’s relations to the outside. And embodiment, I contend, is what is staged in the best interactive art.” (Stern, 2013)
It made me think about Frog Fractions. A lot.
That game is one of the best examples I can think of that has this emergence. It doesn’t lose it’s thread and descend into non-sequitur, but dances the fine line between illusion and ground.
If there is only constant change, it’s also what I only want.
April Fools seems an appropriate date to engage with my Research Question (since the draft is due) as a farce.
Lol my Thesis attempts to explain ‘years of work in one sentence’.
Here’s my initial (super-short, super dumb) notes to begin my Research Question.
What: A Transcendental Experience.
Why? Creating one is creating an opportunity for learning, growth, newness, human connection, love, charm, empowerment, evolution.
How? Making things! But not just blindly making things.
Rituals. Engaging with them seriously. Making through intuition and reflection. Refining based on intuition.
Which? (Comparison) Refinement. Sending things out to people and feeling response. I know I can’t pick which things are good. Other people can tell.
I really want videogames to grip me by my throat and drag me screaming into a total perspective vortex, wherein my whole worldview is revolved and I am remade. Some games are doing this already. There’s some daylight peeking through the rusty cracks. Not saying all games need to have this effect, but I only really want to make games that do.
Digital Painting began whilst starting the Masters' at Colab.
These are notes from three play experiences -
I went back to playing a Hardcore Minecraft Server (Permadeath, time limited regeneration after death).
I previously had a hidden base deep in a mountain. I dug a winding, deep tunnel, and constructed an underground garden and creature spawner, and in doing so I was able to gain many levels of experience.
I died in Hell, so I left off playing for a while. I came back yesterday to see if I could find my old base.
I wrote down the co-ordinates somewhere - and spent ages trying to find them. They were on a post it note size piece of paper in one of my sketchbooks, under a pile of tax forms. It was like hunting for a treasure map. There were three sets of coordinates, extremely far apart from each other. I couldn’t remember which one it was, so I was forced to walk for ages til I got near to one.
The base was completely hidden from the over world. I filled in the tunnel I dug, and marked the spot with a flower. But I left a portal to the nether open, and someone got into the base. They poured lava buckets all over my garden.
I didn’t expect to see it intact, coming back after so long. Luckily, the vandal missed a hidden chest I kept, so some of my items were retrieved. The vandal also missed my hidden library, so I packed up the books and decided to head north. I reached the world limit (North 5000) and found a small island. I think I’ll dig down and set up another secret base here.
Dokodemo Hamster 3 is a game for the Wonderswan. In all respects it’s a typical Tamagotchi pet style game. You can make your hamster perform tricks, feed him, and decorate his living space. Whilst not playing with you, Dokodemo Hamster will choose a random vector each second and move one space ahead in that direction. His is a meditation labyrinth that will never end.
I like that there is a drawing application, a minimal freedom in DDH3.
(Perhaps similar to my K exp)
I hate monopoly.
We went out for Hotpot before, then back to a mate’s house. His girlfriend was keen to play Monopoly and so we did. I don’t like Monopoly, but until the other night I wasn’t really sure why I didn’t like it.
It was a fairly intense game.
We played the New Zealand edition - full of local landmarks that would soon be fitted out with Hotels and drastically overcharged. Whoever made this edition didn’t pay much attention to the logistics of architecture - it was viable to construct Hotels on places like Rangitoto - a desolate volcanic landscape.
The Long Dark Tail of the game shows it’s face quite early. Two of the four players were forced out quite early , and gave up their properties and cash to the remaining two, one of which was me. I ended up second.
Bizarre deals were struck.
Dancing - if you dance for me I’ll give you my cards.
The powerless trying to grasp even a bit of power.
My own personal situation is deep in debt, failing to pay even a little rent, and for me the game takes on a dark, great significance. I feel bad when I feel bad for losing. There’s emphasis in this game put on losing well - if you are forced into poverty, you shouldn’t take it personally or show emotion. In my current situation I find it extremely difficult to separate the game into a casual pastime.
My strategy was poor - plenty of luck, but playing a waiting game. Perhaps I should have been more brutal and forced players out in order to win. Would I feel better then? Probably not.
I am able to cope marginally within this game because I am not able to break the ties of the personal here. If I was destitute and within even more limited means, I would probably think - Fuck Monopoly. Why play the same game twice?
Leading back to my own research, if I made an experience similar to the confrontation within DMT, accessible for the player - how interesting is that? Why would anyone want to be there twice?
I think yesterday was a pretty good chat - and pretty necessary. Went out for lunch with Ben, talked shit over.
Things that come out of it - I want to research the experience of DMT. I don’t know why I want to be doing that, but I think it’s important. For Ben, he thinks that if play comes first, he doesn’t need to ask why he is doing a particular thing. It’s play.
I think Love is probably closest to that goal for me, most things I do are acts of that, I just want to experience that in return for sending it out. (Mon 23 edit - Prob wrong way of looking at it.)
Regardless, I think the DMT experience has meaning for me. Perhaps it’s in the confrontation of your own weaknesses/darknesses. For Amber Lyon (http://podcasts.joerogan.net/podcasts/amber-lyon) it was an experience of realising she had anxiety - it was spray painted in large letters across her field of view, by these beings. Perhaps it wasn’t a realisation, but a confirmation.
I have many and varied weaknesses. At lunch we talked about how my overcorrection of language with my partner is one. I am a terrible teacher, and am too blunt and brutal. This manifested itself in the car to work the other day, and I found everything I was saying, no matter how clerical I tried to be, just resulted in more upsetting moments. Perhaps I wasn’t as clerical as I thought I was being.
YOU FUCKING MONSTER.
Something said over lunch. This is a product of limitation of action, and possibly a good thing to make/interactively investigate. It could be:
- A Little Girl in front of you. Nothing else. She is abstract, and exhibits no emotion. Saying anything to her will make her afraid and feel worse. Mic symbol pops up when you are talking. If you leave her alone and shut up she returns to idle. Saying anything makes her scared. (Typing anything)
Notes on the Persona.
“If one has experiences that are not culturally
sanctioned, one is more likely to experience some kind of distress and feelings
of isolation. Transient distress can lead ultimately to personal growth and positive transformation"
(Ayahuasca and Spiritual Crisis: Liminality as Space for Personal Growth)
The problem with writing in the blog, and here is that I haven’t quite decided on which I should be regularly visiting - need to get into those habits.
I’m feeling really frustrated - I feel overloaded with knowledge, and am finding it hard to digest and make new work based on that. I’m not making much, or anything really.
James mentioned something about workflow of someone like sculptors - having to do sketch based work before attempting the big thing, before engaging with massive materials - like marble. I know sketch work is powerful, but I’m struggling to even find the time to do that. I might be reaching the limits of what still image sketches can do for me.
I might not have any focus. Still feel the abstract and title I’ve written makes no sense whatsoever. What the fuck am I doing here?
I go on intuition. I make accidents happen regularly. I don’t think I can approach things from a logical academic standpoint. This is where I should be looking at a different research method right? Need to look up those notes. Almost exclusively I’m making first, reading later. This is hard due to reversing that angle.
Waking from a deep sleep, I found my moist self - uncomfortable, feeling arrogant, and shuffling slowly forward in a queue of about two hundred people toward the Auckland Beer Festival, high in the Cloud, and in the midst of a cyclone.
In this crowd were the usual expected costumes. A tall Clone Trooper with cutout, aluminium logos of his favourite beer brands glued to his helmet. A gaggle of pre-loaded princesses, stoic men with hairy necks in black singlets and gumboots, various Oktoberfest style Lederhosen-laden girls and boys, and inexplicably, a troupe celebrating the Mexican Day of the Dead.
I’m not here. I’m not here.
We were all weighed up by rows of steel tubing, searched, given a plastic cup and permitted entrance. Once inside we could see the space was mixed, and there were two main areas, one for major brewery beers, food stalls and a VIP area, and the other - a warehouse of two levels, which was for smaller brands, a stage, and more food stalls.
Outside and in between these two spaces I found transient people seeking refuge from both types, all the time being swayed by the beer and the constant wind.
Out here one of the groups of black-shirted-gumbooted-stag-doers shielded their friend - a miserable bastard in pink hot pants, a tight pink mesh vest, and a toy guitar, who was singing for a dare. It didn’t take long for a crowd to form around him, and most seemed to be enjoying the spectacle. This drew attention from security, and a man in a policeman’s costume, moustached and smirking, forcibly removed pink-hot-pants from the premises, along with his objecting friends.
We looked around for more entertainment. On the upper level of the warehouse area, another man was singing, similarly and presumably for a dare from a long time ago. He had a whole stage available for his performance, was sound checked and slippery, and was surprisingly similiarly dressed to pink-hot-pants. A friend of mine pointed out he was the first man he had seen with a large camel toe. Camel-toe-man had all the charm and showmanship of a part time karaoke singer, and was strutting his stuff on stage, with plenty more spectators taking part, swaying in time to his various lunge-urges.
I’m fairly sure neither of the men were creating any harm, pain, or suffering to any person witnessing. It seemed that for most around me they created a feeling of camaraderie and joy in their peculiar performances. They made pleasant eddies in the chaotic flow of the liquored people around them, happy attractors in the soup.
Both had a toy language available to them, and they used it well.
Beer stopped flowing at 8pm, probably to allow the dissonant waves and flotsam to subside back into the wash of the usual waterfront crowd, and to prevent any overly tall peaks from leaving marks on the nice new buildings. We decided leaving early was a really good option to avoid potential violence.
So we left early, and ended up at Daikoku ramen. We ordered some things and had a pretty good meal. A group of drunk people were sitting across from us, and engaging with the waitress in another kind of toy language, this time Pidgin Japanese. They were able to count through some numbers like 1, 2, 3, and 4, but not as high as 5. They also could say things like THANK YOU! and BEER! My partner’s brother overheard the waitress talking about how she hated working at the place, understanding Japanese himself. He also said, ‘I don’t like her attitude’.
Maybe he didn’t understand her suffering.
What effect did all this toy language usage have on the surroundings?
I will consider my actions, and try to prevent pain, suffering, and harm to others.
On the other hand, the actions I have in preventing suffering are limited by my social status, my costume, but also my courage.
We are limited by our perception of time, and inevitably, there is a longing for experiences and worlds we cannot possibly explore in what we each call reality. Through this simple language play it allows us to pretend for the moment we are the other - the busker, the rock star, the linguist. It’s just as important to think about the effect these simplifications have, and how we can use them courageously in the thick, fatty soup.
Yume Nikki Status: 8 Artifacts - Lost in the Teleport Zone.
This was done live at Colab, as part of an exercise for students - to show that process is not some mysterious thing that gets done elsewhere - it's here and now, it makes mistakes, it corrects, and it can happen immediately. It's certainly a different way of drawing for me, and drawing in public definitely changes your decision making - it becomes way more performative.
I have to get back to Scrivener and keep writing in it. I also need to start putting references in an appropriate way. I will do this. In the end I can copy and paste text from this to the blog no problem.
A couple of things on my mind at the moment. I’d still like to Investigate the Portrait Character Empathiser Screen. Through these interrogations I can probably design the sequence, regardless of how it eventually gets enabled.
Looking at Hundertwasser’s the Big Way will be important again, not sure for what reason - but that’s what I’m thinking at the moment.
Presenting things yesterday made me realise how traditional the game design component of my game is currently. I need to veer off that beaten track, and potentially not refer to it as SOTC + Descent. I guess that thinking came from the Entrepreneurial class, of all places - in a Blue Ocean Strategy, there is really nothing like the product you place in there. I hope the idea gets developed into a blue ocean style end product. (At the moment)
This morning on the drive to work I found myself time-jumped to a further place in the traffic. This is a useful device to employ in dictating an experiential narrative. It’s frequently used in Brendon Chung’s videogames, and is a super useful narrative device.
I think I can see how that would feel for the player if they were in an environment where you could jump around. I think this is how I’ll get around designing large environments, in a certain sense.
The experience of looking through a window is taking apart the layers in that moment - experiencing the multiple focus points in each part of the environment. The reflection in the glass, the movement of things inside and outside. Your own levels of vertigo. The grime on the glass.
What is my unique point of view? How do I look at the world?
I think I need to do that Lotus Diagram.
<Doing lotus diagram>
Got stuck temporarily after doing lotus diagram. Few ideas might pop up, need to probably take it across to Twine to lay out. I also should probably look at the Manning narrative to lay out the key plot points.
Anyway - getting stuck on the diagram made me start a drawing. The drawing informed me to lay out an ‘area’ - then not expand that, but fill it in. Two things can be learned from this. Firstly, the obvious means of transferring to another medium/scene/activity to further investigate, and secondly the university mode. Digging deeper to feel the endlessness of those knowledge holes.
Back and forth and back, but always down into the deep. This is the feeling of descent.
There’s a correlation between the apartment-dream-apartment rhythm of Yume Nikki and graph-dream-graph rhythm of LSD: Dream Emulator. Zizek, in a Guardian Article about Chelsea Manning and the ‘essential art’ of whistleblowing, says when systems become transparent and simple to use, the greater the need for the computation work to be done elsewhere, secret and unknown to the user itself.
Secrets in my game may not necessarily be discovered spatially, but actually in breaking the cycle of this particular rhythm itself.
The conversation between Manning and Lamo probably would be interesting to try and replicate through play. Through dance? Perhaps I also need to get an interpretative dance reading list - to better understand the motion. Or perhaps a better understanding of Madame Butterfly - (Puccini would be a good thing to listen to) Is that dance - holding experience of a tablet much more of the kind of thing I want? I think either that or Kinect.
These are screengrabs from a small sketch in Unity utilising the webcam as a mirror.
I went to the Gus Fisher Gallery and saw some photographic portrait work in an oval frame. The figure in the frame, at first, looked quite insincere. Their hair was done in a now unfashionable style, and they were looking up and away from the center, away from my view. After about two minutes of looking at the figure I felt much more empathy with them.
There is a transferrence that happens when we contemplate portraits. The next series of images are initial experiments which are frames from sketches that utilise the webcam. I’d like to see this as a stage in the experience that is similar to the character selection screen, but allowing much more time to transfer your association to the character. This was inspired by seeing my own reflection in the screens of Yume Nikki.
I’ve also been watching Sailor Moon, and in particular, the transformation sequences for inspiration for this part. The characters become silhouetted during these transformations, which allows for viewers identification with them. Their clothing automatically wraps around them, and all their adornments and jewellery fades into place, magically. Once timid, they are transformed into confident warriors of justice. This speed of identification would be interesting to investigate. How the player can interact with this process is something that I’m not quite sure of yet.
"… in his consecrated state, he is particularly exposed to the malign workings of ghosts, besides being himself a danger to his surroundings."
Why does the butterfly flutter?
Today I’ve been spending time reading Huizinga, walking around listening to people talk about furthering research and funding within the university, and playing Yume Nikki.
I half started reading the article in the morning, and finished it off this afternoon. There’s some notes I have been taking whilst reading, perhaps they’re jumping off points. Speaking of those, since we’re on the 10th floor, there’s a large window looking down over a glass atrium. It’s a great contemplative space - I used to be afraid of heights, but I don’t get vertigo at all from positions like that any more.
There’s secret spaces in the university like that - contemplative and academic. Huizinga talked about spaces within play that are secret, that acknowledge a shared group or ideological position. It reminded me of how secret spaces in Doom were acknowledged to the player - a deep resonant tone played - and you knew you had found a secret passage. Sometimes you were required to run across quickly from one space to another to activate a trigger- that would open a door or activate a moving wall. Usually contained within these places were power items.
Armor. Soulspheres. That kind of thing.
I moved from some super public spaces to some secret, but not-so-secret spaces in the university - and outside it, when I went to hear about some research funding. No resounding tone was produced when I talked to people, but I did get a damn good sandwich.
Yume Nikki status : 7 Energies found. I met a jumping leg and hopped with it as a frog. I also found a flute and a bicycle.
A Reflection of Me playing Yume Nikki. Embodiment of character and recognition of self. I'm her, I'm me feeling empathy for her, and she's herself. She's also other things in this game. Sometimes She is Neon, She's Fat, She's a Traffic light.
Initial thoughts - I should probably go through the contextual things to find out the specific feelings I enjoy about the existing software, and try to get a better word - or maybe more accurate than, spiritual.
The hallucinatory experiences I’ve had need to be described too.
In 2012 I had a quad-bike accident, and had Maxillofacial surgery on skull fractures - specifically around my eye socket. During the time I spent in hospital I had some experiences around specific drugs that I was given that gave me hallucinatory like experiences.
One major experience came post-op. I am still unaware of the specifics of what I was given medicinally, but I had some strange dreamlike experiences that I haven’t had since, and that I attribute pharmaceutically.
I remember waking up in the hospital bed, and feeling like the universe was stretched tangentially - A feeling of being in an isometric universe. I saw myself from above, in a bed, but unable to move out of it. I was able to move the bed in 4 cardinal directions, so in order to move around - I could ‘roll’ the bed along the floors of this space.
The walls and floors were all a deep blue. They were only delineated at the edges, so I could find myself navigating the space quite easily - but the entire space was labyrinthine, so extremely quickly I realised that there was no means of escape from this place. Most of the time I spent here I felt deeply frustrated, and could not really get a hang on any particular means of exit.
I met several people in this space. They were fractured beings, distorted limbs and facial features- strange. They offered equally bizarre means of communication to me - communicating in bizarre signs and symbols. I was viewing this situation from above my body, and could see the symbols spewing from their mouths. I couldn’t understand a thing.
Another kind of experience came with some sort of blue-ish pill, perhaps by Morphine. When taking this I was visited by my brother and my girlfriend, and at that time I was able to close my eyes - and experience a sort of ‘free-form imagination’ characterised by highly visual aspects. I remember having the feeling of something like ‘This is what imagination really is’ - a genuine surprise at never being able to simply visualise whatever I wanted to - in a truly heightened way. I wonder if this experience comes with being relaxed, since I am sometimes able to replicate this by being at the liminal moment between waking and sleep.
Those free form imagination moments are characterised by expressions being reverberated within the space. For example, on the blue pill, I thought of faces, and on closing my eyes - my vision was filled with hundreds of faces, young, old, in a kind of tunnel formation like the hands in the movie Labyrinth.
Similarly - I’ve been in that liminal space and thought of carpets/rugs - and as I look around the space, carpets roll themselves up and track along the walls, like I’m painting with them. This is a similar thing to that feeling of reverberation, or kind of like a delay pedal - with objects in space.
Treating these experiences as ones to be poetically replicated is currently what I’m thinking. I also have in mind the Terrence McKenna DMT point of view, in that there are/these are realms in which we can actively communicate with other consciousnesses, so perhaps the real/unreal divide is meaningless for me. This connection with ‘the other’ would be what I would be trying to promote in software.
There’s been a bunch of work up to this point, but I need to reframe my thinking about things, to clarify and lead up to Master’s Question topic.
Initial LB Thoughts after some time. What are the issues I want to address?
I want to look at the character you embody- and undergo a transformative process. The Butterfly metaphor that I’ve been attaching to this is pretty obviously connected to this. This has been further reminded to me by the process someone like Chelsea Manning has gone through - a pretty violent transformation in the public eye.
I also want to revisit - helpfully, my own experiences with **** - the real story being one of the effervescent life bubbling through - and me not being able to handle it, and want to explore other options. When that life threatened to tie me to one place, the leaving of that - there became all the more emotional and hard. I did it badly.
It’s an exercise in empathy - is it still a character portrait, or an example of a kind of process?
I want to see the character embody something initially they are very used to - the Lieutenant aspect. Military aspects. Hit the target. Beautiful - But transform it into shooting flowers that grow, the effervescent creation being something that you might also be ashamed of. I might not be able to avoid my point of view as a hetero male looking at this - like if I start making Georgia O’Keefe style drawings then for me that’s actually ok but other people might find the symbolism uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable symbolism will have to be there - but should be uncovered later. In the process:
Learn to hit targets - Beautiful Dance - Growing Flowers - Uncomfortable Symbols - Life - Can’t take it - A break - The Dark Stages - Transformation.
That’s a basic story structure.
Will revisit this.
Secondly - I think the drawings that come out of this time should be exercises in pushing all aspects of this intuition. If I need to change direction I sure need to do that quickly.
Ok, so that’s an overview - I think the next step is pragmatically for the next build — what do I want to accomplish for the next stages?
-Dreaming in anywhere - getting comfortable? Lying down?
-Random Dreamspace - does this mean the structural components will change? Like - how the narrative operates. LSD: Dream Emulator offers multiples at once, and can be read as anonymous - but with some hints.
Yume Nikki is slightly different.
-How deep you go, seems like it has to matter.
Secondly - can I implement a small example of this in the Twine narrative?
Will start a drawing now.
I love Ghibli, and I'm narcissistic, so last year I decided to put myself in a few Ghibli stills for fun. Apologies for the nightmares they might cause.
An armour, external to surface, allows nothing to penetrate. A small aperture on the crown of the head allows release.
I think the software you use defines the grain of your output. This is just a simple sketch, but I wonder what kind of work I'd produce if I used this for an extended period of time - or whether it would be interesting.
This was done in MacPaint.
Here's the cover I did for the guys at The Arcade Review - a new digital magazine focusing on experimental game criticism.
Check em out at The Arcade Review.
Here's a timelapse of the work.
I put together some prints as a test - I think they turned out ok. Generally I don't tend to think prints are a good way of experiencing work. The luminescence of the screen, and use of light is sometimes important.
Page from The Threshing Nest.
Now imagine them all singing.
Self portrait as Kano
Feeling really stuck - so did this rough to get me excited about doing level design. Last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to limit the scope and figure out which way to go.
Edit: (11/2014) These are some screenshots from what it was. Sometimes it was as simple as a guy in a field.
This idea is still on my mind.
48 Hour Jam Game for KiwiJam 2013 - the theme was:
*Blasphemous Piano of the Dead*
So I made:
Automatic Drawing @ 26 June 2013.
Painting over a Unity Screengrab. This from an unfinished short sketch development of a Cat Simulator.
A little of everything, some interaction, movement, and music, and art direction. I’ve been using Uscript for some of this, but am now switching to Playmaker.
WSAD - Movement // Space - Leap into the air.
Cat Space - Outlining and exploring ideas in photoshop.
Action Figure Reference.
Modular parts. Glow in the dark. Change colour in water. Sparks that fly. Interior and Exterior, See through the skin. Poseable arms. Acting out episodes. Bubble packaging. Shiny art. Disembodied arms.
Initial Aesthetic Drawings informed the first Unity Sketch.
PLAY IT HERE. (WSAD, Space)
I've been remaking myself as some Ghibli Characters. Here's a timelapse of me as Yubaba.