Monthly Archives: February 2015

Interview with Philadelphia Street Artist

12 January 2015

Before I set out to design and install my interactive art piece, I considered the importance of hearing about Philadelphia’s street art scene from an active participant. I managed to get in touch with a local street artist, who agreed to an interview if they could maintain anonymity. This artist uses found materials to create text pieces, that they then screw onto signposts. I had seen these pieces as well as text-based stickers by the same artist around Philadelphia on many occasions. The artist also has a bit of an internet presence. Since some of his pieces directly address the audience (the audience being pedestrians who happen to walk past it), I thought this person would be a good example of creating work that inspires interaction.


Here are some of the artist’s thoughts on street art, interactive art, and documentation:

Why do you share your art on the streets?

I get a thrill from the whole process of producing and installing the work, so that’s the selfish reason. But I also do it because I want people to actually be looking around them as they walk around the city. I want to produce something that catches your eye so that after you leave it behind, you’re starting to look for more things to catch your eye and snap you out of the everyday.

Why anonymously?

Well there’s the law, for one, and just the general sense that some people might judge me harshly for putting up street art. It’s easier to not deal with that. I know anonymous street artists who work for the government, or as teachers, or in finance, or in other fields where a morals clause in their contracts might mean that they could be fired for doing street art. So anonymity provides some protection and separation from a private life. But I think more importantly it’s more fun for the viewer if the artist is anonymous. It creates mystery. Fans are curious. Why does that artist do what they do? A nice side benefit is honest feedback. I’ve had conversations with people who don’t know who they are talking to, and we’ll start discussing my artwork, but they’ll think they are just talking to some random person on the street, or a new drinking buddy at an art opening, but instead they’ll be telling the artist exactly what they really think. Most importantly though is the mystery that comes with anonymity. It provides artistic freedom and excites fans.


What’s an ideal reaction you’d hope to illicit from your work?

What the hell? This is terrible/evil/hilarious/eyeopening! I could do this. Hell, I could do better. I will do better. Is street art really this easy?


Is there anyone in particular you’re trying to reach?

When I started, I was trying to reach people already in the street art community. I felt that Philly street art could be so much better, and so I was trying to inspire local artists to try different and better things. My work was a challenge to mediocre street art to improve. Now, it’s 80% that, and 20% geared towards anyone willing to notice it and think differently about their day or their surroundings.


How important is documentation to you?

When I started, I documented 95% of what I did. It was essential to my practice. I was trying to create a street art persona online without producing amazing work or doing very much of it. My theory was that good documentation and social media marketing would make up for sub-par art. I was right. Now, I don’t document as much of my work myself, but I make sure to do as much of it as I can in places where I believe it will be documented by others. I recognize that internet visibility matters, and documentation is very important to day.


Is having a web presence important for street artists? Why or why not?

A web presence isn’t essential to street art, but it is essential to street artists. What I mean is, to do street art in its purest form doesn’t require a web presence, but to use street art as a means for promoting your own art career requires a web presence, and these days, most street artists use their outdoor work as a way to get into galleries and museums rather than as a rejection of those systems.


Are you inspired by other texts artists? Other street artists?

I steal my words from other text artists, and I find other street artists equally inspiring and revolting. In the few years I’ve been active, I’ve seen the Philadelphia scene mature slightly, and that’s inspiring.


What made you decide to start putting up your work?

A frustration with the trappings of the mainstream artworld and general scenesterism have crept into street art, an artform intended to be anonymous and free.

Revolution Recovery – site visit & response piece

January 10, 2015

Today, my partner and I conducted a site visit to RAIR (Recycled Artists in Residency) located at the Philadelphia-based recycling plant Revolution Recovery. Revolution Recovery is an environmentally-friendly, sustainability-focused trash sorting center. Their main clients are predominantly large scale corporate and industrial projects that need to dispose of massive amounts of waste. The recycling center was approached by artist Billy Dufala, half of the art duo The Dufala Brothers and a former member of the popular band Man Man. Dufala proposed a partnership between the recycling center and artists who might want to use the material waste for sculptures and projects. Avi Golen, a co-founder of Revolution Recovery, was for the idea and thus RAIR was formed. RAIR invites artists from across the US to pick through the trash and the materials that are dumped at the recycling plant to create art projects that raise awareness about sustainability. While touring the facility and the artists’ studios, I got a sense of the social and environmental importance (and relative ease) of sourcing art materials from the trash. Dufala and Golen spoke at length about the kinds of incredible objects they’ve pulled from the trash: everything from expensive boots still in the box, a cheetah pelt, an actual shark fetus in a jar, and miles of christmas lights.

The exhibitions RAIR puts on have included massive trash-sourced sculptures, Rube Goldberg contraptions, trash-bowling and much more. Currently, they’re in the selection process for their next batch of residents.
In terms of my own project, I was inspired to appropriate trashed material for a public art project. I came across a peg-board which, though dirty, seemed like it had the potential to be turned into a fun game. I went to a hardware store and bought bolts. I cleaned and modified the pegboard in a small way, added a marker on a string, and created a fun little ‘connect the dots’ game.

I was delighted by the fast response! Just hours after I installed it, people were drawing on the pegboard. To me, this was a success because it accomplished three of my goals:
Create a piece which inspires people to directly interact with their environment in a positive way.
Use recycled material (a la RAIR and Revolution Recovery)
Create something which is accessible to a broad audience, that was not necessarily expecting to see art.
So now that I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learned from my site visit and my interview with a local Philadelphian street artist, I’d like to create a larger piece which addresses more important social concerns. This next project will probably play off of my initial inspirations.


Self-Portrait: The Map of Heartbreaks

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(first draft above, second below)



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the map of heartbreaks is a simple map in a spiral shape – in fact, it’s based on an actual floor plan of a real institution that was only slightly warped to fit the shape. the map is a self-portrait because of the nature of the location; the institution is one where i spent a significant amount of time and emotional energy, and this projection of it (especially when the sign system is introduced) is unique to my experience.

of the two drafts above, the first one includes the beginnings of my sign system, and the second is the accurate representation of the surface i’ll be using in the final project, though the sign system has not yet been implemented. for simplicity’s sake, i’ll define both of those things:

– my surface is a set of adjusted concentric circles divided into sections (in this case, rooms such as classrooms and offices). there is a hole in it where one of the sections was removed from the surface. (this was intentional.)

– my sign system will be a series of red dots. in the first image of my second draft (the third image in this post), there is a rough drawing that’s been circled in orange; this is the easiest way for me to explain how the sign system will fit into the piece! on the whole, it will look almost like a pointillist piece, the entire surface covered in different size dots in muted colors. what differentiates the sign system from the rest of the color on the surface is the saturation of the sign system’s dots – they will be a bright red color in comparison to the low-opacity neutrals of the rest. all i’m going to share about the sign system right now is that each of those differently-saturated dots will represent an event. whether i will further define what the event is depends on how the map comes out looking as i work.

(my map lacks a connection system by design. the events represented by the sign system are not meant to be viewed in a particular order, and in fact the spiral, ongoing, potentially repeating nature of the surface is part of the design as well.)

my inspiration for the project comes mostly from the mapmaker we studied who created hundreds of maps while imprisoned.

INSPIRATION BOARD, style & color, respectively:

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Group Game #1: Deep Sea Rescue


The original idea for Deep Sea Rescue was to have a bad guy manipulate the terrain with a pattern. My group and I  decided to have a player try and sneak from the left side of the screen to the right side of the screen to avoid a shark.

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In the first draft, I created the enemy path. Because our terrain was the ocean, I felt the shark would have considerable range over the landscape and created a path that consisted of three circles wrapping around the screen. As an enemy, I wanted him to be harder to sneak past as the player got closer to the end zone, so the circles moved faster closer to the endzone. I was going to connect the three paths so that it would be one path but I didn’t have the knowledge or ability to do so when I began coding. With the help of my group, we realized that the weaving of the middle path seemed the most natural for the shark, and presented enough of a challenge without having to add the other two paths, so we presented this draft of the game with the shark using only the code for the middle path.

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For our second draft, our change list consisted of making the motion of the shark wider, adding movement to the good and bad squares, giving the player more visual hints as to what the object of the game was, and introducing ending animations.  We also needed to incorporate the new restriction that the player gained a choice from a bad thing (failure). We decided that the player would have three chances to learn from his/her mistake. Each time the player hit the shark, the shark would take a bite. Three bites, and the player was dead.

I worked on shark player collision with Destiny. We wanted to setup a counter in our collision so that the player had two penalties with the shark before the game would end and the shark would eat the player. First, I worked on finding some animation to signify that the player and the shark collided. We decide to add a gray flash as an indication with a screen that said you were bitten. Destiny and I worked on adding in the counter but found it was not keeping track of the amount of times that the the player and shark collided. So we passed it on to Amy who helped us figure out.

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Our third draft and final draft consisted of added more realistic avatars (such as the new shark avatar, colors for the ocean and sand. Many of the glitches with the squares were fixed, and the  code was adjusted to include an array list.

Danielle Brusco

Group Game # 1: Frog Laser

In my game I attempted to create a bad guy that would not be interacted with directly. Its movement patterns then do not actively harm the player instead affecting the accuracy of the player’s shots.  When the player scores a hit on the enemy by aligning with it and shooting it, the area the bad guy can move in is decreased. Through bouncing and a wrapped movement, the bad guy attempts to avoid being targeted. If it hits the walls of its area enough times the boundaries will increase and if unchecked will envelop the whole screen.



Conversely, when the player shoots and is aligned with the bad guy, a laser is emitted. Pressing either x or z will trigger one of two lasers. x will result in a larger laser with a greater result but with limited shots. z delivers a short laser that can be used infinitely. With this I hoped to create some measure of player choice. Although in future I hope to include a charging mechanic whereby the player can either release a shot instantly or hold it for a larger laser.

I would say that the bad guy exploits the terrain as the player an bad guy cannot affect each other directly. They must interact through the terrain to damage each other. However I only really have one type of failure and that is absolute. There are not really small failures in the game to learn from though the advancing wall quickly teaches the player to shoot.

As part of my change list I instituted a second level which inverts the perspective of the first level and offers a different color palette.  In addition, I made a more visible laser and two different laser modes. I also tried to make the player more visible by adding shadow and changing the blue color so as to offer contrast with the background.



In the future I would like to definitely work out a charging mechanic and perhaps introduce more movements for the bad guy.

Group Game #2: Eat Your Friend



Eat Your Friend is a local multi-player game in which you and another person compete to be the largest amoeba in the petri dish. This is done by making contact with the aimlessly floating particles, thus absorbing them into yourself. The first player is controlled via the mouse, and the second player uses the “w”, “a”, “s”, and “d” keys as a directional pad. At the end of a 5 second count, the larger player may consume the smaller player. The first player to do so wins.


The source of the challenge in Eat Your Friend comes from the other player. They are, in essence, the “bad guy” of the game. You must be swifter and more precise than they are in order to win. The terrain is exploited by the other player as they, in theory, have as much control of the space as you do, and are able to take the life sustaining particles for themselves in order to do you in. Failure and reset teach controls and strategy. Perhaps rushing towards the particles far away from the other amoeba didn’t work and resulted in a loss, so now the player tries to steal particles away from the opponent instead of hording his or her own stash.


My change list for this game focuses mainly on the mechanical side of things. During playtesting, the second player would very often become lost outside of the screen, making controlling it difficult and confusing. Adding a boundary that pushes back the players from the edge of the screen may solve this. Also suggested was an update to the aesthetic of the game, rounding out areas of the background to make it appear as though the game was taking place inside of the petri dish. In order to constrain the players to the dish, the dish itself would be a physical object capable of collision.

Playtesting also revealed that players initially had trouble figuring out who was who. A change in the background, making two sides of the dish apparent through changing color, could fix this issue.

Group Game #1: Getaway


So for  the first game this year I am going with my idea of being a bank robber in a situation where the heist has gone wrong and is currently in a shootout with the police. While the police are shooting at the player constantly I wanted the player to not have the ability to shoot back. This, for me, makes the game more difficult as there is no way to beat/kill the bad guy. Also I wanted to play with the idea where the robber, who in normal situations would be the bad guy, is actually the good guy (the player). In this game the player has to collect 5 bags of loot to be able to escape the bank and while collecting the loot, the player has to avoid being shot and further, being busted by the police. By the final play test of the game, it had 8 separate builds, each with their own issues. I had an interesting experiences with issues in this game. While some of them were fixable with fairly straightforward coding there were some that needed me to use what I call, backdoor fixes. An example of this was the collisions with the bullets I was having were not exact in any way. The player would die if the bullet came close to the player but the basically the player was dying when he wasn’t actually getting hit. To fix this, I utilized icons. So while I was displaying the icons, I made the original drawings invisible and turned them into hitboxes and made them smaller. Interestingly enough, when I made the hitboxes smaller than the icons, I was able to make the collisions look like they were hitting the icons perfectly. And while I know this is by no means a permanent fix, it has been a temporary one that will suit me very well in the long run until I have a more complex and precise collision code. Let’s take a look at some screenshots:



This is what the game looked like bare bones with no added icons or backgrounds.

As you can see the yellow player is clearly not actually getting hit, but a collision has been detected.

This is what the game currently looks like, it still needs some aesthetic work, but I like where its headed.


All the loot has been collected and the getaway appears.


Whew, Just managed to get away!


As you can see the collision detection is so much better now.



Group Game #1: Climb


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“Climb” is a single-player game that uses keyboard as the main input. The player acts as the character at the bottom of the screen, and the goal is to climb up to reach the dotted line.  The character’s arms and legs are mapped with “F” “J” “V” “N” keys, and the player is free to step up.

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In the yellow text bubble, an instruction is provided for the player to follow. If this random-generated pattern is not followed strictly, as a punishment the green bar would fall and push the player back to the initial position.

climb (4)



In the “I Lose, Therefore I think” article, Lee talks about game being  defined as “an interactive structure of endogenous meaning that requires players to struggle toward a goal.” In this game, this struggle comes from the danger of falling brick (cancelling of past effort.) In the play testing session, I found that instead of following the message, players tend to randomly press keys when first starting the game. Usually after several unsuccessful trials, they realize that it is not possible to win using this method, and therefore they would start paying attention to the text bubble. In this case, the falling brick is a form of instruction that asks the player to pay attention to the interface.


climb (1)


During the play testing session, I received feedback mostly on two areas: firstly, since the instruction bubble was originally placed above the dotted line, it can be difficult to notice when the player concentrates on the bottom half of the screen. To solve this problem, I have now placed it on the bottom and have it move alongside the player. Another important feedback is on the color palette. instead of using two high-contrast colors for the dotted line and the brick, I decided to use the same green so that they form a separated domain that is different from the player’s side.


Meanwhile, I have also added the difficulty of the game by introducing the “not to do” message. Those messages randomly appear on the text bubble and if the player press the key while told not to do so, the brick will fall as a punishment.

To take this game to the next level, I’m hoping to:

1, adding details to the character

2. adding time limitation and show it graphically

3. adding sounds



Group Game #1: Deep Sea Rescue


After reviewing the labs our initial ideas were brought to fruition, such as randomly generated objects of which determined the speed of our bad guy (though from the first set of labs this mechanic was not yet available). We were also able to create a functional player model. From here our ideas evolved with the code which enabled us to add the functionality to the moving objects and interaction between the player and our bad guy. At some point our randomly generated objects evolved to moving objects. We even included a winning and ending ‘animation’ to our build.

Our bad guy, the shark, would increase it’s speed if the player, a lifeguard, came into contact with a bad square. Adversely if the lifeguard came into contact with a good square, a swimmer, it would slow down the shark. The path of the shark would not be altered, therefore creating a set patterned path. Contact with the shark lead to the player’s immediate player, resulting in ‘bleeding out’.

The next step was to make the game clearer to our initial concept of “Deep Sea Rescue”. Therefore adjusting the colors to produce a beach and sea background and create a realistic shark.​

-Jessica Sanchez



Our bad guy is a shark, so we decided that it would make the most sense to have him slowly move throughout the entire game screen. He follows a relatively predictable pattern, bouncing off the sides of the game screen each time he collides with our boundaries. He is able to more effectively exploit the terrain when the player collides with a black squares; he speeds up, and it becomes more difficult for the player to avoid him. Each time the player collides with him, they are ‘bitten’ and sent back to the deepest part of the seas. When the player has been bitten three times, they are permanently killed. Clearly, this will teach the player to avoid the black squares, and the sharks!



Our play-testers had a little bit of difficulty finding the goal at first, so we enacted a gradient to help visually steer them towards the shore. They also found the player’s responsiveness to the mouse made the game a little bit too easy, so we have turned the player into a draggable, where the user must click and hold the mouse button in order to pull him towards shore.

When working on the game, I worked primarily on making sure collision functioned, adding in dying animations for the shark, implementing the gradient background, cleaning up and consolidating code, and turning the player character into a draggable.

-Amy York



The original plan was to have a circle bad guy who moves around the terrain (bouncing) preventing the player (a square at the time) from reaching  the opposite side. For the first round of playtest for “Deep Sea Rescue” I worked on creating and randomizing the good and bad squares (prior to learning about classes), as well as creating the finish line/end zone (the player’s goal). The squares were intended to either help the player to succeed(ex. slow down bad guy) or cause the bad guy to do bad things (ex. speed up).








The second round I worked on the Good Square class and the Bad Square class and limiting the range on where the squares can randomly appear which fixed our first issue with the squares. I also attempted along with Danielle and the help of Amy, to create a counter for each time the player collides with the shark resulting in a number of “limbsEaten”. However, it became rather difficult to figure out why our counter would show  3 consecutive collisions when only one would happen, at that point Amy was able to find the proper solution and help Danielle and I. The purpose of the counter was to give the player a choice to continue in their attempts to succeed.

For the final playtest version of the game I worked on the color scheme, reworking the shark image, and creating the dead shark image. It took a chart to organize all the points where each triangle would meet the body of the shark and to help keep track of placement on a visual level.  We were asked to make the color scheme more “deep sea” like and make the shark more “shark like”. The shark went from a gray circle to an oval with fins, a tail, and even an eye.

-Destiny Colon

Group Game #1: Ion Rush

IonRush (click for .zip)

Ion Rush is a game of patience and timing. It forces the player to pay attention to the enemies’ patterns in order to proceed.


Each “laser beam” flickers (at a constant rate) between two colors – green indicates a safe passage and red a sudden death. I programmed the beams to be re-positionable, which gifts them the ability to section off the terrain and force the player into smaller and smaller “beamless” territories.


The significance of the beam colors becomes immediately apparent once contact is made. On a collision with a red beam, the player is sent back to the start. This form of failure instructs the player to pay attention to the flashing colors and gives them the choice to either hastily rush into the beams or take their time.


This game has been constantly rewritten and is currently built for even more revisions and features. The major jumps so far have been:
– Code structure to support beam width and location- Multiple beams
– Backgrounds that change color with player movement
– Clean(er) gui that indicates level completion

I’m looking to implement the following points:
– Revise code structure to accommodate for different color patterns/speeds/durations
– Have the beams move around
– Less rigid player movement (especially on a touch screen)

I have many ideas for this project and hope to continue working on its evolution!

– Dean Russo

Self Portrait: A Map of My Origins

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For my self portrait I was heavily inspired by Eastern traditional methods of understanding the self and the human body. I feel that our highest selves our defined more so by our energy systems and the natural elements that form our mind, body and soul.

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My surface is my human body (left) and the elements that my up the body that my my soul currently possesses. I chose to separate each of my portraits by doshas, a great visual representation of the doshas (center) and their cohesion of their elements. It was important for me to depict myself in the nude because I find the body to be beautiful and something that we should all embrace, rather than be ashamed of. This body is our own, so we should treat it with respect for our time with it. I used a picture of the cosmos(right) as my background because that’s what we all were before we were inhabitants of this Earth and these elemental beings.  All living things on Earth are made up of pieces of stardust.

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My sign surface is definitely composed of the different chakras along my center in each of the portraits. Chakras are the points on the psychic body where the nadis energy channels meet. According to hindu tradition, there are seven main chakras in the human body- the root chakra, the solar plexus, the heart chakra, the throat chakra, the third eye chakra, and the crown chakra.

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My connection system are the black lines depicting my energy flow.  The energy flow that exists within all of us is crucial to our well-being and a deeper understanding of our highest self.

One of the concepts that really struck me about the reading was Dennis Wood’s assertion that the power of the map lies in our ability to be told what is “really” there. I really liked his idea that “such affirmations constitute powerful existence claims.” This kind of power has been used for good and bad. Maps have aided in the colonization of lands and the depiction as certain lands nations as smaller and therefore of lesser importance. I understood that in constructing this map, I would be giving myself a certain degree of power and I knew I had to use that power in a positive manner.

My image is a map because it grants the viewer a deeper understanding of what is going on within our own personal bodies rather than attempting attempting to tell our bodies where to go. My image proposes that we are made up of more than just our income level or our race or our gender. My image proposes that we are made up of a unified energy field much larger than ourselves. My map makes visible the things that we sometimes choose to forget. The energy fields that can’t be seen by human eyes, but are still incredibly real and prove that we aren’t as separate from each other as our egos would like to propose.

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These the first sketches that I did when the art piece was still in it’s conceptualizing phase. The sketch on the left utilized mixed media, including kyanite crystals for my irises, fiery embroidery floss for my hair,  a face jewel for my third eye chakra, stardust glitter glue for my skin, and white sage for my lips. The second sketch, is more similar to the concept I decided to go with instead. I loved the notion of collaging methods to depict my body as the elements. If possible, I would like to still incorporate a 3D  element to my final draft with the addition of objects from the non-human natural world.

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This is screenshot of my original digitalization. I was hoping that I could incorporate all of the elements on a singular portrait of my body with a simple blank background. However, it looked to barren and I didn’t feel that I could actually include them all in one being so I chose to go the route of having each portrait represent the aryuvedic doshas. The portrait on the left represents  kappa, which is a combination of the earth and water elements. The portrait in the center is indicative of vatta, which is a combination of air and ether. The portrait on the right is representative of pitta, which is a combination of fire and water. I am predominantly a vatta- kappa, but in truth, all of these elements lie within us and all influence each other.


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Two of the biggest artistic inspirations for this piece are Monica de Miranda’s “In the Back of Our Hands” (left) that was depicted in the book, The Map as Art. I liked the idea of using the literal subjects’ bodies as canvases. Our bodies are genetic works of beautiful artwork! Why shouldn’t they be canvases? However, while I think her work is interesting, I don’t think that the self is entirely made up of our literal geographic location. In terms of using the chakras and energy systems to create my art piece, I  was heavily inspired by visionary artist, Alex Grey’s “Psychic Energy System,” which I discussed in depth with Una Chung in conference.

Self-Portrait: Continuities Between Place & Emotion

For this map, I wanted to start with concrete places I felt were important to me and work out a way of assembling them in a way representative of myself and my experiences. By and large I think one of the first things we consider when we think about a person are their relations to and understanding of place. However when one mentions a place — a city, village, neighborhood, w.e. — we often assume that that place in its entirety is representative of that person. This is largely untrue: in our minds we operate and define our present selves on the basis of locale and our relation to other locales with which we’re intimate. Conventional maps hide this as the important places we know well are dispersed by landforms and bodies of water. With this map I wanted to eliminate the irrelevant inbetween spaces and places in my life and put together only places important to me in a way that is continuous to myself. In a similar way I try to bring in a sense of continuity between feelings attached to places, i.e. you have a positive experience in one place in part because its associable with some other comparable experience you’ve had elsewhere (and vice-versa). I’m not saying this is always the case, however personally I think this comes up often when I look at things retrospectively.

sketchesAs my surface, I assembled a variety of cutouts of places that I felt I knew at a pretty local level and/or were important to me into a new land mass of what is essentially “my world”. My goal was to make the placement fairly geographically representative and quite literal, i.e. if some terminal in JFK is the most eastern part of the U.S. I actually know, it would be adjacent to somewhere in France which is the most western part of Europe that I know, etc. etc. I tweaked the shapes and angled some land masses in too in order make the land mass more visually appealing; some placements are arbitrary, some symbolic, political, etc etc.

surface detail

I didn’t have much time to fully develop the sign system, but I’ve included the legend of an idea I’d like to work with as well as some representations on the map. The lines from place to place represent feelings evoked by something reminiscent of another place, color-coded according to whether or not that feeling was positive/negative and weighted in terms of reaction. The potential for dotted lines emphasizes instances where I felt present in terms of just body, just mind, or both.

sign system detail

Reading references:
– I think the emphasis on locality makes this a map. Originally I had intended on shoving outlines of cities together to form a land mass, but this would remove the intimacy between location and emotion that I allude to. The sign system would not be effective in this case, even if it would still *look* like a map.
– This proposes that places one does not know well can still create experiences that are evocative down the line
– I think this makes visible where my place and mind/memories have connected at times (and where they haven’t). The land mass concretizes the feelings of connectedness I feel between these spaces. And if the sign system was more elaborate & there were more lines, it would also map the major experiences that’ve recurred in my mind as well as a general feel for emotion across each place.

Artist references:
– I like’d Ed Ruscha’s clean & simple maps of intersecting streets in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His juxtaposed grids spoke to the repetition of urban landscapes, which frequently came to mind when assembling these places. Also aesthetically I liked the bundles of fine lines used to represent streets — the gratuitous use of thin lines between place to place in my sign system drew from this look, even if we are using them very differently

Self-Portrait: A Map of My Future, Age 23~25

Final Map:


Sketch 01

My decision making process is actually pretty simple. My initial idea was to simple mapping out my thoughts and images in my head. The reason I want to achieve a map totally out of my head is that I am used to pay more attention to the appearances of things when I make art. I care how things really look and want to achieve perfect (or to say identical) drawings as the originals setting, which lack my ability to be creative and wild in most of my previous art projects. I wander what is going on in my mind. I am interested in the relationships between space and people. And I just love thinking randomly about my own dreamland and myself. Thus, I decide to do a map of my future specifically from age 23 to 25 (right after graduation from college).

My map surface is a palette of four colors (purple, blue, red, and pink) from one blending to another. I create my own color emotion system and incorporate it on the lower left comer of the map.
My connection system is a path of footprints meaning my journey from 23 to 25. The path is going off the top and the bottom edges of map to show its continuity.
My sign system is going to be mostly original sketches/illustrations. I really want to achieve the idea of designing my own life and things in it. Except the blue traveling part, I will incorporate iconic items accordingly to the countries to show my worldwide travel.

Here are some sketches/icons

I guess two readings that inspired me the most were Kathy Acker’s Map of My Dreams and the Chapter One Maps Blossom in the Springtime of the State. The map of dream provided me a good way of formatting a map where it has not a lot of logical order. It is pretty random. Her thoughts are floating on the map surface with simple icons. In the Maps Blossom in the Springtime of the State where says that maps give us a reality beyond our reach. This brought me to think of what should be included in a map or my map. I guess the topic of future is always beyond our reach. You can dream of any future that you want and make it happen for really. And to visualize things that haven’t happened yet is to make the invisible visible.
In terms of “this-ness” and “there-ness”, “this-ness” is showing my designs of my flowers/items shop and putting my favorite flowers and design items into the shop and placing them to places. The “there-ness” could be found in my pink part where contains mostly my diary-like writings. To imagine and put myself in the future, feel what is going on there is my way of presenting “there-ness”.

This is a image of selective writings

Inspiring artists: Karey Kessler, Stephen Walter, and Nathan Carter

Self-Portrait: A Map of Mapping My Creative Process

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Work Narrative:

When I initially sat down at my desk to sketch my self portrait map I was immediately distracted by the web of unfinished art and bundles of treasured material that litter my desk. As I (thought that) I was procrastinating I began arranging scraps of patterned paper and packaging into aesthetically complete objects; playing with the balance of elements and tapping into a subconscious aesthetic code of placement.

I then realized that I was actively making my map in the space around me. Through my sculptural and visual work I was mapping my creative process and evolving aesthetic sensibility. The objects that I have been creating incorporate elements from previous art pieces or other personally significant objects that mark periods in my life, especially since I’ve moved to New York.

Each image collage or object has three mapping functions; firstly its existence serves as a physical manifestation of a particular moment in time, secondly it represents the state of my creative expression in that moment, and my interpretation of the specific ideas that fueled the creative process,  thirdly it serves as a point on the larger map of the trajectory of my creative process.

This is not a static map.

It is continuously evolving and decaying, being destroyed and reformed into different objects which are amalgamations of past thoughts/moments/expressions. It is the nature of this map that it can never be finished or complete, it is a reflexive ‘organism’ that I will use to chart my reality in real time, accessing my own experience abstractly through images and objects in my space.

In this way my map speaks to the dynamic of reflexive and lived reality coexisting in a physical space. This is a recent cultural phenomenon largely created through the use of social media. Because I personally tend to be absent from social media it is interesting to view this (‘arcane’) mode of physical media as a form of personal lived social media. I.e. a creative instagram of myself for myself.

The map shown above is a further abstraction or reformation of my original map. The ‘true map’ (if there is such a thing) is on the walls of my room and is in the process of becoming a more cohesive visual piece.

The surface of my map is an image of my desk which holds all my materials and unfinished work and is also the place that this work is currently being assembled. This serves a strong representative function because the space in which I create work symbolizes potential creative work that will be added to my map in the future. The images on top serve as my sign system, they are images that I took of elements of my physical self portrait map. In this context as on my wall they work effectively to symbolize points in time and thought. My connecting lines serve to trace the creative influences each piece had on another.

As I continue on I may find that this ‘map of a map’ and my ‘original map’  will bleed into each other and possibly switch places, as it may become unclear which one is generating the other.


Self Portrait: A Map of the Most Meaningful Music of My Life


This piece began with the idea that I could map the experience I have while I listen to music. I began by writing down all of the thoughts/feelings/pictures which came to mind during various listening sessions, or other moments where I would be hearing music and having some kind of awareness over my experience. I was fascinated by the idea of mapping my sensory experience. It seemed to allowed me to reveal what would otherwise be an entirely personal phenomenon. I filled a few pages with these sorts of trees, inspired by the ‘map of dreams.’



Not much of a map yet. I also wasn’t sure how I was going to convert this text into something with a sign system, and a surface. I played with ideas of using waveforms of music as a surface:



The idea to map all of my favorite music came to me sort of spontaneously. I thought about the fact that music has formed a sort of backdrop to my life, and I began thinking about the fact that I could sort of catalog eras of my life by the music I’ve listened to.  I began making a list of the albums which have been particularly impacting to me, and I began thinking about how music resonates with me for certain periods of time, and how I really love how it makes me feel, but then after a while I put it away because it doesn’t resonate with me anymore. Sometimes I revisit it, like having tea with an old friend that I’ve grown apart from. I reminisce with it, but eventually play what really hits me today. I began making a list of the music which at one time or another I was feeling the strongest about. This is the music which that brings me back to a certain period of my life and allows me to remember how I felt at the time whenever I play it. I realized that by figuring out how to map this list, I could create a potent, yet otherwise invisible map of who I am. In a way, I am the sum of the music which I’ve listened to. In my map, the waveform-head is me. The blue cloud which comes out of the right ear is musical ‘ether.’  My sign system consists of album covers of music from my list. From the top-down, the album covers are ordered from oldest to most recent. The line running through the symbols indicate the order of their placement in my life, as well as their connection to each other. The line eventually runs through my ear, and into the head, symbolizing the connection between all of this music and myself. It’s a good time to point out that the head is made of a very colorful waveform in itself, which I think of as the summation of all of this music. In the way my life is sort of delineated by eras of musical listening,

I was primarily influenced by Jimmy Gleeson’s Australia Map, the map of dreams from in-class, as well as some artwork by Jimmy Edgar


Self-Portrait: A Map of Places I Might have Left a Lot of Hair (Not Including Bathrooms and Barbershops)


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Preliminary photo and painting (sketches):

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Sign system:

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Connection system:

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The artists and works that influenced me the most were: Josh Dorman’s 2008 piece, “Four Fleurs”, Liza Phillips works “Inlet” and “Flood plain”, both from 2003 and, Mariele Neudeckers’s 1998 installation “Unrecallable Now”. Also, though I did not go into the project thinking about Tamara Kostianovsky it seems that perhaps I drew from her as well. She made a map of the United States using her hair that I remember being very impressed by.



I did not repost as I did not make many changes to my map. Here is a photo of what it looked like prior to critique:

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I removed the black boxes because they took away from the translucent free flowing quality that I had created with the rest of the map. I like that though the map has a narrative it dose not have one central point and I realized after critique that the boxes were demanding to much attention. Initially I included them to block out the bathrooms in the apartment. However in my final map I found a way to work around the space by not being quite so literal. In the map I printed I replaced the black rectangles with a photo of a lake (overlaying the bathtub) I spent a good deal time in, and a showroom toilet (over the real toilet) that I was obsessed with when I briefly worked at the Poop Museum in Tokyo.

Over all I feel satisfied with the final product. I am so thrilled that we were able to print our maps out this big! It was amazing to see everyones all together. I was nervous about how mine would look without the weird depth and glassy screen of the computer but I do not feel that, in this regard, printing it add or took much away. What did change drastically in printing was the size of the hair, I had not given much thought to scale when working on my map. After seeing the 40×40 print I wondered if maybe I should have layered more small images of hair rather than stretching and bending several large images. As the large clumps might not immediately read has hair, given their size. I was worried they would appear to be burns or scratch marks, I put a little note next to my map with the title in the hope that it would help to point the viewer in my intended direction.

Self-Portrait: A Map of Memory

Surface detail of self-portrait

For my self-portrait, I decided to map my travel routine during high school in Bangalore, India. At this stage, my map is still very incomplete and needs to be reformatted.

At first I was confused about what to map. My initial idea (as shown by my sketches below) was to represent the three countries that I live in. However, it proved to be an overly ambitious task with no viable end goal. I decided, instead, to address a more simple and personal topic, while creating an aesthetic created around select memories and feelings associated with locations around Bangalore.

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For the rest of my map, I will be constructing an aerial view of Bangalore city traced on images from Google maps:


Using colour and images from the internet of specific locations as my sign system (like the Bangalore Palace), I will navigate my movement around the city based on memories. Unfortunately, I do not have a concrete sign system or connection system to display.

The purpose of this map is to link emotion to place, and to create a visual representation of history. It is meant to create a cohesive connection between memory and place. The reading that perhaps influenced me the most is Rethinking the Power of Maps by Dennis Wood. Wood is able to reconfigure the map into being something more than an accurate geographical representation. Wood uses maps as a means to rethink space.

Visually, the artist the influenced me the most was Adolf Wolfli. Although I am unable to achieve a style similar to his, I appreciated the flatness of his maps that allowed for a great amount of detail to be put in. Wolfli’s layout creates a unique structure for his map.


Self-Portrait: Mapping Communication

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For my self portrait, I mapped my favorite part of my life: communicating.

Over-communication is sort of a safe space for me. I’ve always been an over-thinker and speaker, solely because the mere act of speaking is comfortable for me. When I am communicating with different people/platforms/parties, I tend to manipulate my speech patterns in a way that allows me to closely monitor my counterpart’s receptivity. If I notice that they are bored or frustrated by my articulation, or if they fail to grant me “approval” or “validation,” I resort to extremes.

The blue/green layering in the background represents communication waves, but it also represents the layers within my style of communication. You’ll notice that some of the medallions (the reddish bulbs floating to the top) have not made it very far up. These represent the people/platforms that I only communicate to gather information from. There are two types of information ‘retrieval’ in my life. One is sort of like gathering points in a video game. It’s sort of shallow and manipulative — sort of sleazy. It is represented in the bluer layers.

The other type is heavy. I’m still searching for information, but in a different way. I’m searching for the answers to the bigger questions. I’m searching for validation from trustworthy sources. I hardly ever grant myself points when I engage in it, for it is the type of communication that dominates my existence. I feel like I was born to communicate in this way. This is represented in the greener layers.

Often, I let the medallions that should stay in the blue layers rise up to the green layers. They are not usually itching to make this jump, either — it’s something I tend to enable without their permission. The medallions in the gray space represent the people who I WANT to cross the black and white line, but are not capable of playing that role in my life.

The black and white dividing line represents my brain seeing the situation in ‘black and white.’ Once the medallions have passed this line, it’s nearly impossible for me to allow them to cross back over. Once I see them occupying this space, I practice the (second) type of communication with them — all the time, whether or not they want to engage.

When I don’t get the ‘points’ I set out to retrieve from the medallions occupying the blue layers, I compensate by over-communicating with the medallions in the green layers.

I am represented by the Klimt portrait in the bottom right. The mask represents my delusional sense of self, which I seek to protect (via overcommunication.)

The layers around ‘me’ represent my personality traits that I try to communicate most, and the floral medallions around these layers represent my ‘armor’ from the notion that patterns of speech do not have the power to save me.