Monthly Archives: April 2015

Revolutionaries – (Counterrevolutionary Splinter Group?): Post-Mortem

qr3 [The site seen from the main path] My marker offers a sort of communication in an otherwise unused space on campus, combining dissonant elements such as the technology of the QR code compared to the simple wood. Additionally, the QR code is hand drawn which further disassociates the high tech aspect from its execution on my marker. Hand drawing the QR code is revolutionary because it’s technology being used outside the system. The technology itself brings about an at attempt communication: the marker asks for your name and requests that you talk to it, a very human interaction. qr2 [After being removed the code remains active in photographs of the installation] The figure drawn on the ground in front of the marker indicates a human entity at work, but one that has been removed from the site and is no longer physically present. The site itself is very human-constructed, bisected by a drainpipe, but people usually stay on the cement path. The marker also looks like a standard terrain marker such as one might encounter while traveling, but it doesn’t help one to locate oneself. The board itself is held up with natural materials (large rocks found in the area) in a manmade drainpipe. qr1 [The figure worn down after a week of presentation] I was most influenced by Amitav Ghosh because his mental geography was so influenced by people interacting with a place that he had never known or seen, yet who became part of his own mental geography. I was inspired by this to include communication with an unknown figure. It is my intention to see if I can record any of the interactions with the marker. I received a blank text message, several hangup messages, and one person who when prompted for a name responded “Noooooooooooo.” Views of the post and the figure (more visible here) seen in the rain at night – qr5 qr4

Conference Post #1: Overwhelmed by Fact

My conference project is centered around the theme of being overwhelmed by facts, more specifically statistics concerning the state of Syria and Iraq during their “war” with the IS. On TV and through other media sources we are reminded of the horrors that occur in places that are safely contained in the frames of our devices. We never expect to experience the horror, much less think about it in any more terms that the “factual evidence” given to us. More attention is paid to the numbers, the data that events produce, rather than understanding or even delving into their constructive nature—it doesn’t so much matter why the IS is on the offensive, but the deaths, or more correctly the number of deaths, is what we use to measure our horror. I want to highlight the many aspects of life in the war effected areas that go unrecorded- just because a country is at war does not mean that war is what constitutes it, I plan to bring to the viewers attention the “invisible” but very real, statistics of the lives lived as a juxtaposition to the overly paid attention to negative “death” aspects of war. It is hard to begin giving agency and legitimacy to peoples or cause if they are only seen as victims (like most of the effected peoples in Syria & Iraq), the other that must be saved. In order to engage this conflict I want to create a structure that will be an interactive (sort of) sculpture/installation intended to overwhelm the senses on the issues of war (paying particular attention to the IS situation in Syria and Iraq) using the most beloved tool of news reporters: statistics. The structure itself will be a large rectangular structure that a person can enter and be able to turn and view all sides. As the person enters the first thing they will encounter is a screen with slowly increasing numbers, this will reflect the real time death toll [one person every 10 minutes, 3 people become refugees every minute]. This will be the first jarring image, I want the viewer to be consumed at first by this changing number, it should disturb, but then encourage the eye elsewhere. Behind the screen will be a chicken-wire fence (attached to the metal structure) with barbed wire on top. Through the holes of the fence will be very gorgeous pictures of the places destroyed and pillaged during the fighting (many Babylonian and Assyrian sites have been damaged, temple of Ur, Mosul) to really create that sense of unease—you are seeing at once both the rising death count and the beauty that there was, diminishing more and more as each number changes. Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 1.28.29 AM The walls on either side will each also have monitors and will be playing scenes of violence from the wars on loop, volume on. This will be accompanied by stereos that will be within the structure that will provide a constant mélange of sounds and voices (guns, bombs, traditional singing, birds, prayers, political activists speaking, riots, chants, children…), in conjunction with the monitors the auditory as well as visual effect of this collaboration will hopefully overwhelm the viewer. On the walls behind the monitors there will be recorded statistics regarding the two countries and the area on varying topics that do not necessarily pertain to the horrors of war, but still reflect its impact (such as, how many marriages were performed? Or how many houses had lights in the evening, how many olives were cured? How many students graduated?) to contrast the blatant war and violence being shown on the monitors, the ticking death toll flickering in the periphery. Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 1.28.50 AM  Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 12.29.39 PM With the way we are bombarded with images, statistics and “data” in our everyday lives, we do not pause to think perhaps their true importance or weight- the only difference between 200 people being dead and 1,000 is the amount of breath you take to say it, it doesn’t really affect you any less or more. I want to take the singular statistic and make the viewer engage with it in the multiple- will you feel it more if it’s bigger? We take in world horror so easily because to many, it’s just a number, but what happens if we multiply? One becomes movies and shots and screams, laughter and agony. By bombarding the viewer with all the information s/he is paralyzed, forced to stop and really look, look at war (the screens), and look at everything you’ve missed (the backdrop).
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right and left side panels with background statistics, right side Syria, left side Iraq

close up of two panels

close up of two panels

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blue-print (ish) sketch/construction plans

 

Conference Project Drat # 1 : Mapping Freelance Media Production

I started working in film when I was sixteen, and became really obsessed with keeping track of my ‘network,’ aka the contacts I’ve acquired through my working in freelance. I’ve done this in order to jump on it if these contacts start businesses/projects of their own (which they often do) so that I can reach out to them immediately — usually they need the help of someone with my skill set. So I strive to capitalize. Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 4.00.38 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 4.00.28 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 4.00.09 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 4.02.48 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 4.02.25 PM In a way, this path has been a dérive. Because I still sit fairly low on the totem pole in the world of media production, it’s been easy for me to observe those who stand above me. And because I work freelance, I’ve crossed paths with all of them many times, in differing situations (different commercials, short films, PSAs, etc…). I’ve sort of stalked them via social media (linkedin, facebook, instagram..) and whenever I run into them I don’t hesitate to ask what gigs loom in their futures. I’ve kept track of all of this information over the years, so for my conference I plan to map this network. I will probably map 20-50 people. I’ll include information such as where they’re from (usually NY and LA, but a few hail from the midwest), what they studied (or didn’t study) in school (not film, in most cases), what sort of gigs they set out to work (usually indies / short films), where they are now (mostly doing commercials (duh)), and what their goals are / whether or not they’ve achieved them. Most people who work in freelance film hope to start their own production companies – and many of them have done so. I think this is important information to include. My map will probably be a series of intersecting circles. The intersections will signify a crossing of paths — so, for example, ADVIL will be a circle, as will Under Armour, Venus Razors, and various short films. I’ll also be sure to signify the production companies that bring the freelance workers together. In my circles, SMUGGLER and INTERROGATE tend to dominate. These circles will lie over a map of the US. The paths the freelance workers have taken to arrive in NYC will lead to the circles, which will then intersect.    

Conference Project Draft #1: Mapping Morbidity and Bodily Alteration

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Mathilde and Simon, for their conference project, have created a set of uniforms to use as wearable maps. The uniforms are a short and T-shirt set in all black. The shirt have a grid of holes.

The mapping project, will be to weave through the holes with grey, white, and black string to record their movement based on their decoding of signs throughout the East Village.

The signs will be attached in the turning or transitional moments of the grid, each block will be another stitch, and each symbol will mark the transition. The symbols will be morbid tattoos, signs of death, and signs of caution in the physical realm.

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The project was inspired by Merlin Coverley’s Psychogeography and Marina Abramovic’s trauma performance art. Mathilde and Simon will be wandering through the city as psychogeographers, while creating a performance art piece at the same time.

The purpose of the project is to uncover an untold narrative in the urban landscape and to archive the accumulated knowledge in an abstract context. the wearability of the map emphasizes the transformative nature of costume in urban exploration and geography, it allows for the participants to separate themselves from their preconceived context, and consistently re-imagine the world, as if they were seeing it for the first time.

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Our two perspectives will create two maps, and our collaboration an entirely new narrative. Our perspectives both unique in the sam experience.

Conference Project Draft #1: A Narrative Map of the Imaginary

post My project is a hybrid narrative- choose your own adventure- scavenger hunt. Participants will read the story in pieces and make decisions about how to navigate the landscape. They will be given a map which will help them to determine the location of the next note/story fragment. Above is an image of what the first note will look like. Below are images of the site where this will take place and some details of places notes will be hidden. post 6 post 3 post 4 post 5 post 3 post 1 The invisible thing that I am making visible is an imaginary landscape. The narrative I am creating is intended to lead the reader to identify themselves with the narrator and navigate the landscape as though it is, as depicted in the story, a forest. I was inspired to do this project in a choose your own adventure format after reading Psychogeography. I thought that the way individuals choose to engage with the story would ultimately be reflective of a type of landscape navigation, much like there are several different types of psychogeographers (ie stalkers, flaneurs etc). I was also influenced by Ghosh’s novel, Shadow Lines because it provided a kind of narrative mapping that was very interesting to me, and is similar to the project I am undertaking.

Conference Project Draft #1: Mapping The Topography of Film

Screenshot (237) For my conference project I have decided to map the invisible topography of film through an automatic drawing process. The photo I inserted is from a collage and drawing I did when watching The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover directed by Peter Greenaway. As I watched the filmed I continuously drew the outlines of significant shapes and figures within the composition of each scene without looking at the paper. I wanted to create a direct link from my consumption of these shapes visually to my representation of them physically without re-imagining them at all. When I finished this piece and looked it over I began to think of it in terms of mapping the invisible. I realized that this process could be viewed as a way to map the intangible topographies of a film while simultaneously mapping my visual processing of these topographies. For my conference project I would like to repeat this process, in a more refined way, for five (or more if I have time) different films. I will specifically choose films with contrasting aesthetic sensibilities in order to see if this effects the quality of line, or general affect of the finished ‘psycho-topographical’ map that I create. It will be interesting to see if there is differentiation within the set of drawings depending on the film. As well as playing with the idea of immateriality in film and positing an interesting way to make a process driven map I think that this series will be aesthetically engaging and cohesive (which is very important to me as an artist!) My process was largely influenced by many of the concepts that fuel surrealist practice, and in terms of psychogeography the surrealist derive. Automatism is of course very important to the surrealist process and I think that this system of mapping can serve to subvert accepted modes of navigating perceived space in film similar to the way derives subvert conceptions of how to navigate urban space.

Conference Project Draft #1: Mapping Light

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My map defines the invisible process of the way in which natural light adds to the beauty and theatricality of specific buildings in New York City. I feel as though sunlight that streams in through the windows of these architectural monuments adds to the beauty and warmth of the building itself, and ultimately leads to a type of performance put on by the interior of the structure. This “performance” leads to the audience (or people within the structure) paying attention to the way in which the light hits various parts of the room, allowing better understanding and absorption of the architecture.

Our initial discussions about what renders something “invisible” to society greatly influenced my thoughts the process behind figuring out this conference project. I feel as though light is something that is so common that it is frequently overlooked, yet it still possesses a beauty that in the rare moments it is recognized, there are always feelings of warmth and pleasure associated with this experience. In this map I hope to bring this invisible process to light and make this beauty available to be viewed consistently rather than in the brief moments of time when natural light is visible indoors.

The vague areas of this piece are the how I will plot each building on the compass. I intend to pick a direction (south-west, as this tends to be the side of the building that gets the most sunlight, without acknowledging in the vast amount of factors that alter this statement such as floor level or proximity to other buildings) and place the most color in the surface in this part of the map, making these places/points deemed more “beautiful”.

By choosing to map this process on photoshop, I will be able to attempt to copy the various color gradients of natural light through the multiple functions on paint. Additionally, the text and the straight lines of the compass will be done entirely on photoshop, making the map neater and allowing the pictures stand out against the soft background of the surface.

Artist Reference: Original maps and cartographers

Conference Project Draft #1: Fear

For my final project, I will be creating another 40×40 map exploring fear. The map will be divided into four different layers, with the center most point being the a depiction of ‘the self’. Each ring on the map represents a different fear of mine, and the closer to the middle, the deeper the fear. The idea of dividing the map into rings was done to create a gradient of fear. Mandala 1 Mandala 2 To help inspire me, I have been reading Dante’s Inferno. The idea for this map came from the nine circles of hell. by exploring fear, I am hoping to make this a very personal and perhaps even expository map. There will be no fixed colour palette for this map, as each layer might look quite disconnected from the previous. Another source of inspiration were Buddhist and Hindu mandalas. Although I have moved away from the original concept, I am trying to use particular elements. For the first circle, I will express my fear of spiders. For this ring, I am choosing to employ a more hazy, almost cutesy art style to show how irrational this particular fear is. Untitled For the second circle, I am exploring my fear of the dark. This layer will not consist of any images, but will play primarily with light and other manipulations. Currently, the biggest obstacle in my map is working with the third and fourth rings. For the third ring, I need to find a way to represent my biggest fear, which I will not discuss for now. For the fourth ring, I am trying to find the most accurate way (to me) to create ‘the self’. I hope that once I complete my first two rings, I will have enough inspiration to address these two issues. Conference

Conference Project Draft #1: Manderley Map

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.41.10 AM Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.41.17 AM Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.47.44 AM   My map shows the way in which the narrator emotionally views the space in which she’s inhabiting; it challenges the question of presence- demanding that one consider the elements that combine in order to create someone’s presence: are they solely physical? are the mainly psychological? In some ways, my conference project is tied to psychogeography, because I’m trying to view the space as the narrator does, and sense the invisible presences of the other characters! I was originally struggling in trying to find a way to show the presences of the other characters in the book, but am now going to use color as a way of doing so. I decided to go for a thick creamy paper, so that the colors I use (including white), will really stand out. I was actually heavily influenced in my illustrative style of the map by children’s illustrations, Korky Paul, in trying to evoke the Victorian homes through huge amounts of high detail. Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.41.26 AM Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.41.34 AM

Conference Project Draft #1: Campus Graffiti

campus_map_print Here’s a very early outline of what I have planned for my conference work. I have noticed that many people use public wall space as a canvas for expressing themselves around campus. People are compelled to speak their mind, and as a result there are a lot of messages, doodles and scribblings all over the place.  I am planning on making a map that shows some of these messages and draws interesting relationships between message types. I’m definitely not set on these types being Band Name, Doodles, and Political Messages, but I used them to develop an early sign system and method of encoding information into my draft above. I am going to go out some evening this week and take pictures of everything I can, and then go to work sorting through and drawing some interesting connections to map out. Thinking back, I have always found something amusing about the graffiti in bathroom stalls around campus (not that this project is limited to bathroom graffiti). However it wasn’t until checking out Everything Sings and seeing Dennis Wood’s graffiti map that I realized this could be interesting to do around SLC. I hope to take this map a few steps beyond his, and map some connections between the underlying themes that I discover in the messages, and use the project as an opportunity to connect with the thoughts of those who write on walls around these here parts.

Conference Project Draft #1: Lost Countries

Sketch1(This is a close up, the full image does not adequately convey what I have done so far) I was inspired for my conference project by a plot element from G. Willow Wilson’s comic Air.   The country of her story never existed, of course, but it got me wondering about countries that had existed and no longer do. Of course there are many thousands, and we cannot even begin to know the names for lands in pre-historic eras, but still there is something incredibly compelling about the idea of philosophical or metaphysical ramifications for a nation which ceases to officially exist. Ceasing to officially exist (or never being recognised as a legitimate state) is of course a highly political subject, however I want to refrain from making too many political judgements and focus more on something a little more occult. Supposing a country only existed for a few years and then became something else, or was annexed – what about currency, stamps, birth certificates, criminal proceedings…all the little things that make up people’s lives. Those can’t just be wiped off the map, so to speak. Various philosophical and quantum mechanical theories engage with the idea that everything which existed must still exist, otherwise it couldn’t have ever existed. My question then, is where do these lost countries exist? And what would that space look like? I’ve always loved old imperial maps; they’re preposterously gaudy and often filled with information. For post Given that the vast majority of the better recorded disappearances occurred during the imperial period, I thought it would be interesting to map these lost countries onto an imperial map, as opposed to something more ostensibly impartial and modern. The first image above shows the beginnings of my superimposition of the countries onto the old map, which will be aesthetically dismantled and warped into something more ghostly and difficult to understand. This is still a rather vague area in the project, and it will be interesting to see how it turns out. Getting the names of the countries on there will also be very important. Bavarian Soviet RepublicChechnyaKatanga         These are some of the lost countries I have put in so far (as best retroactive estimates can describe them). The Bavarian Socialist Republic, Chechnya, and Katanga. They were all secessionist states of varying degrees of recognition. Initially I was going to only use secessionist states, because I think there’s something prettily tragic about a failed attempt to form a nation, but I have decided to add annexed states (where they do not overlap). That should populate the space a little more. Aside from learning a lot about history and geography, I’m sure this project will be an interesting artistic challenge.

Historians: Post-Mortem

  20150415_18525120150421_15555620150421_155444 20150421_152902  20150421_152026     Our goal as historians was to create a space which invited people to not only experience the new space it established and re-evaluate that which it was built within, but to share and contribute to it as well. It was through this give and take that we hoped to, in our own way, subvert its surrounding environment, which is primarily dominated by personal histories that are hinted at from the exterior but always guarded. Our structure was simple, yet strong. Its thin steel bars and precarious wooden frames gave the piece a delicate quality, yet it survived rain, wind and lightning. It was physically open enough to be inviting to people passing by, while also providing a home-y intimacy. This is why the piece is relevant to psychogeography, as it disrupts what would normally be a space to pass by on the way to another destination, and allows people to experience the space from a different view. At the same time, through the system of leaving objects / drawings, it also invites people to glimpse the accumulative history of our created space, giving hints as to the individuals who have left their mark there. This affects one’s phenomenological understanding of a place, allowing you to be temporarily conscious of the invisible histories of individuals long gone from the area.  

Group Game #2: Hansel and Gretel

Our game follows Hansel and Gretel as they are getting closer to a Witch and her house. The game is black and white, and it gives the impression that something bad is about to happen.  Their trip is made harder by the falling cones, which sends player back to the start. The witch is waiting in her house. The controls are very simple and the player controls both Hansel and Gretel as they are moving together to the house.  The main goal is to arrive into the Witch house and not get hit by the cones. Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 10.51.56 AMa When both Hansel and Gretel arrive to the house, the sign “You win.. for now” appears on the screen indicating that the player has successfully passed the first stage, it also implies that there is no real win since the trouble really starts at the witch house. unnamed (1) The game is looking just the way we wanted it to look, dark shadows really giving the sence of something bad about to happen. The game is designed as a two level game and we are hoping that we will finish the second stage as well. The second stage is supposed to see the players in the witch house, where Hansel will be trapped in the cage, and Gretel will have to push the witch in the fire.  

Conference Project Draft #1: Map of Ordinary Affects

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A sketch I made during my conference of a potential layout with notes around the side

a digital "sketch" of my preliminary idea

a digital “sketch” of my preliminary idea

I began thinking about my conference project inspired by a couple of different psychogeographic and map inspired projects. I found the idea of ‘mental travel’ that Merlin Coverley wrote about in Psychogeography incredibly compelling, and I identified it with a lot of my own experiences of daydreaming about distant (or nearby) places. Additionally, over spring break I found the book Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky in a book store over spring break. The subtitle of this book is “Fifty Islands I have not visited and never will,” and in the introduction Shalansky writes about her experience of mental travel through looking at atlases as a child growing up in East Berlin, a place she could not travel beyond.

Shalansky renders a map of the island in question and on the proceeding page, she describes the island's history and facts about its location and habitability.

IMG_9105 Shalansky renders a map of the island in question and on the proceeding page, she describes the island’s history and facts about its location and habitability.

The night before I found the book, I was aimlessly looking through Google Maps when I located a series of islands I had never heard of before called the Faroe Islands. I was surprised to know that 50,000 people lived there, and I clicked through the photographs of the towns there and tried to imagining what life would be like if I had grown up there. This is where the full idea for my conference project came from.

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When school started up again, I began to explore different parts of America on Google Map street view. I was drawn to the most rural places, because I grew up in a city and have minimal exposure to living in rural America. Also, often when traveling (at least in my family), we tend to visit cities, both familiar cities where family lives like Los Angeles and Denver, as well as cities we have not seen before. In my writing class, we were talking once about the experience of driving through rural, almost empty areas of the country and trying to imagine what kind of person lives in the houses you pass by. As I looked through Google Maps and chose specific locations to zoom in on, I kept this framework of trying to imagine the lives that inhabit these locations in mind. I selected which specific roads/towns to zoom in on based on whether the  street or town names appealed to me.

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My map will depict aspects of American life that do not appear on maps but that mark the memories and locations of experiences in peoples’ memories. For example, a field where a child found a four leaf clover, or a road where a car accident occurred, or a place where a teenager smokes their first cigarette…these types of milestones do not show up on the terrain or maps of America, but they are very much a part of growing up in the specific spaces. The inspiration for the “invisible” aspect of my map comes from anthropologist Kathleen Stewart’s Ordinary Affects, an ethnography of American life that she depicts through non-fictional vignettes of the ‘ordinary’. I hope to map ordinary affects in my conference project. I am still decided how exactly to present this concept. I began with collage of rectangular pictures shown in the second image of this post and intended to make a 40 by 40″ map in that style. On top of the ‘surface’ (the screenshots of different street views), I would write in sharpie the ordinary event that occurred there which would be the sign system.

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I’m not sure what the connection system would be in this map. When I brought my digital sketch to conference, Una and I discussed ways that I could use the map to combat competing discourses that define American life. We thought of using a chart of the stock market crash as a “surface” containing holes which reveal the screenshot images I took and the sign system details that explain the ordinary events that occurred in the spaces.

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The issue now is that the draft I have is rectangular and therefore not 40 by 40, and I can’t use as many images as I hoped to. I also want to make sure it is read as a map.

Revolutionaries : Post Mortem

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.00.21 PM  Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.00.02 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 7.59.55 PM   Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.00.10 PM The revolution was controversial. ‘Twas only natural. 3/4 of the revolutionaries worked on a very cool thing that we set out to create on day 1 of the assignment. A flag. We ended up creating 3 flags, hovering over the ground at various angles. This was our move because a flag is, first and foremost, an emblem that re-contextualizes a topographical space — placing it placing it within the bounds of a nation or ‘platform’ that lies within a mapped system. Landscape itself is subject to interpretation. It’s a notion that embedded in national history as manifest destiny. Land belongs to this American lifestyle. And this was our land, so the flag was the end result of our revolution. We set out to go beyond what a flag does. A flag is merely an isolated, unavailable, emblematic totem, and we brought three flags into a realm of physical accessibility. Aesthetically, the motion of the flags in sequence provokes an sense of simultaneous construction and destruction of that mapping system placing the flags in conversation with the pre-existing ecosystem that the alien flag is placed in. The white material refers to surrender. Our revolution was ironic, in this sense. We surrendered, so to speak, our pre-conceived notions of territory and ownership.

Surrealists: Post Mortem

DSC_0894                 DSC_0900DSC_0898DSC_0896 DSC_0890   We have visualised the methods of our ‘identity’ in three ways: firstly we drew attention to the most surreal thing in the space – the emergency pole; secondly we used the nature of a line to break up depth, distance and direction so that perception of the space would be distorted and dream like (the tension, connection and colour of the strings all contribute to this); thirdly, the web like pattern that emerged is evocative of the fractal yet narrative nature of dreams. Our work is an example of Psychogeography in that it is a response to the nature of a space which would change the way the site was mapped. It also forces people who enter the space to interact with it in a different way. The strings prevent straightforward passage, and actively encourage diversions, disorientation and unconscious responses unique to the individual. Lines imply direction but also a boundary or separation. Connected or intersecting lines imply connection or intersection of meaning, but it is for the unconscious to make sense of any connection they might have – just as it is the job of the unconscious to make sense of a sofa in the shape of Mae West’s lips, or a rain of men in bowler hats. One of the most interesting things the work does to the space is to distort depth perception. The mind unconsciously associates the lines of electricity cables across the roads with the lines of string and cord in the installation and given that this happens from many angles it does make the are a small bubble of distortion – in some ways a world of its own. This effect is enhanced by the fact that one cannot see the installation when one approaches from main campus, so that coming upon it suddenly through the trees is quite a surprise. The strings also draw attention to verticals generally not noticed by people who mainly use the sight as a thoroughfare. The emphasis on allowing unconscious impulses to translate into actions in the discussion of surrealist psychogeography from Coverly was particularly influential, especially given the ‘on the fly’ nature of construction and planning. We should perhaps have liked to refine it a little more, play with more verticals and perhaps mimic the strangeness presence of the emergency pole more directly but on the whole we are satisfied, and we had fun.

Flaneur: Post-Mortem

First secondthird Our group visualized our identity as the Flaneur in several ways. First, we wanted our work to embody the wandering qualities of the Flaneur by creating different visual attractions to guide the eye in a wandering fashion around the landscape. Second, we chose to use a reflective material so that the viewer would be both an observer of the landscape, as well as being able to see themselves reflected in, and a part of, the landscape. This was inspired by the Flaneur being both a part of the city as the navigate it, and an observer. fourth fifth sixth Our work is an example of psychogeography because it is intended to alter the viewer’s perception of the landscape. To begin with our site is one that is often overlooked, making the mylar a drastic change to the landscape. The piece both works with, and contrasts with, the landscape by contrasting natural and unnatural materials and shapes. The bizarre and shiny nature of the landscape now entirely changes the way it is perceived and interacted with. Passersby stop to stare at what was once overlooked. We were influenced by the idea that “our own journey [through the landscape] is entirely imaginary” and used this idea to try to create a landscape which would inspire the imagnings of the viewer (Coverley, 70). We also chose to tackle the Flaneur’s task of “reconciling the contradictory roles of everyday reality and unconscious desire” (Coverley, 73). The exsiting landscape represents our everyday reality and the abstract and brightly reflective shapes reflect unconscious desire. The artist that we were most inspired by was Andy Goldsworthy. His work is very site specific and encorporates materials found at the site. In our interpretation, we use the elements of the landscape such as rocks and trees, yet we chose to add and alter elements of the landscape in order to create disonnance between the viewer’s expectations and their visual experience.   (Group 2: Mariko, Rebecca, Hillary, Mikey, Xara)

Stalkers: Post Mortem

image3 image2 Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.35.00 PM For our space, we chose make our sculpture more interactive by focusing on the vibe of the stalker rather than a specific, targeted act of stalking itself. Instead of designing a sculpture to be fixed on observing a particular place (i.e. always looking into one window), we wanted to make our sculpture semi-hidden and to stalk people passing by on Bates Hill. Some sculptures will go unnoticed until you just pass them — only for them to be out of sight when one tries to investigate. Going about this at several points down the hill replicates the creepy, omnipresent feeling of the stalker. Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.37.38 PM Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.38.49 PM Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.40.04 PM We are attempting to use our figure to impose a creeping sense that the site is stalking those who interact with it. Since people most frequently walk down Bates hill, and our repeating, wide-eyed figure slowly becomes more defined as they move that way, it is our intention that people will perceive our figure as appearing with the intention of observing them. Transversely, by recognizing this sudden unexpected presence and observing it, we think that people will themselves become stalkers (i.e. observers with intention). We are using the natural topography of the site to help display our figures in a way that draws the audience’s eye to these installations. As people walk down (or up) the hill, the natural slope of the site (along with the various trees, rocks, and bushes) provide various ways to help partially conceal our figures, forcing the audience to have a more “searching” eye and adding a slight air of mystery. Our piece is  an example of psychogeography in the way that it promotes a new sense of consciousness and awareness about the space. By placing our sculpture, we have transformed our space into one that invites exploration from any pedestrian that interacts with it. To someone who regularly traverses Bates hill, there is something new there, and not only is it curious, it’s watching you. It is our hope that by transforming our space using the notions of psychogeography (specifically the stalker), we have turned people’s awareness into their environment in a way that makes them psychogeographers, or stalkers, themselves. We were definitely inspired by the stalkers we read about. We used the reading to form a general idea about the ethos of the stalker. From the reading, we took the ideas that the stalker is attached to the moment, is personally involved in the observation. They are intense, zoomed in on particular things, and gain their freedom by taking others.  Their journeys are made with intent, and they are somewhat manic and uncontrolled. We think we have put these elements into our sculptures. Our site makes visible these notions of psychogeography. We were influenced by the artists  Picasso and Susan Graham.

Interactive Story: The Temptation of the Cutscene

The Trap: If you are a writer, you are not used to being ignored. In non-interactive mediums, good writing is often the end-all-be-all for audience investment. But gaming is an interactive medium, a “lean forward” experience as opposed to a “lean back” one. The gameplay and mechanics are just as important to tell in the story as, say, dialogue and character development. And so we must focus on the narrative, not the writing of the game. It is dangerously easy to view the writing of a game as a separate entity from its other parts. Its tempting to fall back onto habit and simply write what you want to say. This leads to the tedious mantra of “action-cutscene-action-cutscene” that so many developers seem to follow. It is easy to tell a story, but much harder to craft an immersive narrative around and within a world. Here are some of the pitfalls that I experienced writing for The Studio. The Wall of Text:
Wall-of-text

No offense, WoW fans.

The old standby of quest giving NPCs. I used to write these when I was afraid of the environment in which the story was told. A lot of times, I would be brought on to projects that had, for the most part, already been designed. Instead of telling the story that I had in my head, I had to work around an already built setting. This is a fundamental part of game design, and as a writer, you just have to swallow your pride and abandon that awesome, amazing vision that you’ve already determined will make you a star. Holding on to a story that is impossible to work into the narrative of the world leads to things like blocks of text, where the NPCs drone on about your precious, precious lore, essentially boring the player out of the experience. The Expository Cutscene:
Clip from the movie Metal Gear Solid 4

Still from the hit movie Metal Gear Solid 4

You wouldn’t write a movie script in the same way you would write a novel. Why would you write a game in the same way you would write a movie script? The expository cutscene is the refuge of the writer who is either lazy, doesn’t know any better, or is faced with the all to frequent time crunch. Every time you use a cutscene, not only is a player forced out of your experience, but I’m pretty sure an angel loses its wings. The story of a game cannot be told through disconnected bits of gameplay strung together with these globs of raw exposition.

Interactive Story: Environmental Storytelling

The First Assignment: It was the summer at the end of my sophomore year when I first got my unpaid internship at The Studio. I was ecstatic, of course. So ecstatic that I was able to overlook the fact that they would tactfully use the term “volunteer” when talking in official capacities of any kind, only allowing me the title of “intern” in casual conversation and on the forums. In order to understand the quirks of my job, you have to first understand the nature of my place of work. The Studio has many projects, mostly dealing with high fantasy or sci-fi, most of which are maintained on a system of weekly releases. This means that, in general, there is always something you should be doing. When The Studio brought me on, I was designated as the assistant writer for their MMO, which is a browser-based fantasy RPG done entirely in Flash. It was 2.5d and played somewhat like a point-and-click, and before I started being able to write weekly releases, I had to add items into the database. As there were always new releases, and thus, new items, data-basing quickly became the only thing I did, day in and day out. It was the closest thing to grunt work that they had for writers, and for the first month or two, that was my life. I would be sent these items and assign them a name and a description. After checking the linkages, I would save the files in the database, and off it went. Another piece of the world that was forever me. And in some small way, I found this work fulfilling. But in a much larger way, the work struck me as tedious and boring. All the same, it taught me something very important. Everything has a story, and those stories must be dependent on each other to form a cohesive and satisfying narrative. Environmental Storytelling:
Bioshock, 2008

Bioshock, 2008

Let’s say you’re in-game on a quest. Along the way, you encounter a bandit with an axe. He drops this axe upon his death allowing you to pick it up. Any writer worth their salt can tell you what the axe looks like, but it is far more immersive to give the item a story based on its context. This context should be firmly established as soon as possible. Where are you right now? It is important that the player answer this question quickly and easily. The axe can be sharp and well maintained, but it takes on a very different persona if you’re in a forest full of felled trees as opposed to, say, a bandit stronghold.
envirostory2

Bloodborne, 2015

Now that a scene has been set, the next question to deal with is “Why”. Why are you here? This one doesn’t need to be answered quite as resolutely, and in fact, I am of the opinion that self-discovery of the answer can be another satisfying hook into the world. However, it is considered bad form to leave the player with no clues of any kind. It’s alright to drop them into a well-defined world, so long as there are some narrative branches to grab a hold of before they hit the ground. Let’s get back to the quest you’re supposed to be on. Whatever it may be, it should provide the player with some direction, but not enough to be overbearing and stifle the freedom of investigation. The Aftermath: At the end of my “internship”, I had gained enough trust for the powers that be at The Studio to write my own release. It was during this process that I learned another important lesson. No matter how clever you think your story is told, players have no obligation to explore subtlety. This would prove to be a larger problem then I had ever imagined.