Tags: art


ever higher

Following the runaway success of Passage, both the most thought-provoking and most depressing computer game ever, game designer and conceptual artist Jason Rohrer has followed up with a sequel, Gravitation. While both games are reflections on life and mortality, Gravitation is much less broad and slightly more subtle. Like Passage, the game is rife with possible interpretations--it could be about work-life balance, it could be about manic-depressiveness and alienation, it could be about the creative process and the relationship between the artist and his art. Or it could just be a game about a man with his head on fire playing catch with his daughter.

Like Passage, it isn't immediately clear what to do, and figuring out how to play is part of the game. On my first playthrough, I didn't know I could jump, and I spent upwards of two minutes repeatedly tossing the ball to the little girl, never seeing the rest of the level or earning a single star. This unstraightforward learning curve would normally be poor design, but once I understood the point of the game I realized it was completely intentional. It was very sobering.

Worth downloading from his site if you're a creative professional, grew up with parents who were never home, read through all of Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves, or are expecting to have children someday.

Rohrer has since written another game, Between, but this one is multiplayer and I haven't found anyone to try it with. Any takers?

Follow-up: Esquire has a gorgeous article on Rohrer here. If you've played Passage, the photo on page two is fucking heartbreaking.
caonima, censorship

starry starry night

Hey guys! Here's an idea for a completely insane postmodernist novel. There's this dude, see, in the Netherlands or some other quasi-socialist Western European country, who's the great-grandnephew of crazy sunflower saint Vincent van Gogh. He has his great-granduncle's passion for art and his great-grandaunt's ideological zeal (Vincent Van Gogh's youngest sister was an early feminist), only he doesn't have a revolution to fight in or a Gauguin to quarrel with. So he goes into filmmaking, gets a feel for the political zeitgeist, wins a few film festivals, and after 9-11 and the surge in North African immigration in the Netherlands he discovers his ideological nemesis in--get this--radical fundamentalist Islam. In between writing scripts for popular reality shows he writes angry, unapologetically racist Strom Thurmond-meets-Hunter S. Thompson screeds for radical blogs and right-wing magazines. He throws his weight behind the ill-fated war in Iraq, and manages to incense the ire of the entire civil rights movement by releasing a film equating all of Islam, not just the radical right, with terror, violence, and misogyny. He's made a lot of enemies now; he's made a reputation as an iconoclast and a self-proclaimed "village idiot," lots of publishers are rejecting his stuff and folks in other countries are making noises about wishing he'd go away. He's gone ideologically off the deep end, going from testing the boundaries to sprinting as far past them as he can go. Folks are telling him to take it easy, think things through, cut back on the vitriol and lay off the smack (literal smack, which he uses with unapologetic aplomb). But he's too far gone, now, he's too far off the deep end and too in love with his own rhetoric; he's found his voice and his movement; he's smoking absurd numbers of cigarettes and downing liquor like Kool-Aid; he's writing furiously. He's in van Gogh mode, now; he's made a name for himself, stirred the hearts of a people with ominous and vaguely familiar incitements to hate and violence; he's lived up to his heritage in this horribly twisted way. He's become the voice of a generation. And then an angry kid who hero-worships al-Qaeda shoots him dead. And that kid leaves his own literary mark on the world, an angry clash-of-civilizations call to arms knifed to the back of van Gogh's lung. Murdered with a poem! And so van Gogh is killed by his own furious desire for self-expression, by the power of art for which he lived, killed by the bigotry for which he lived, a martyr to both free speech and the enduring spirit of hatred and intolerance in his time. Despite all the controversy around his life and work he is honored as a hero. His countrymen bury him with a bottle of liquor and a pack of cigarettes. In a twist of irony bound to confuse generations of future art history students, who already struggle with getting their late nineteenth century painters mixed up, the monument his supporters erect in his honor is titled The Scream. Brilliant!

If you thought, "Kevin, there's no way you're smoking enough crack to have thought of that," you're right. All of it actually happened.

the writing is on the wall

Learn to read graffiti. It's a fairly interesting language, and might just save your life.

Most of those examples are from the general vicinity of Los Angeles, but as most youth gangs in America associate themselves with one of four major groups from L.A., these tagging styles (and their symbology) can be found all over the country. More examples may be found in this guide by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, and the Florida Department of Corrections has an amazingly detailed lexicon. There's also an excellent visual dictionary from the Racine County Sheriff's Office in Wisconsin.

(What, you thought graffiti was merely a form of anarchistic self-expression? Psh.)

this is not the best song in the world (this is only a tribute)

In 1994, post-Soviet artists Vitaly Komar and Alex Malamid polled 500 people about their musical tastes. They performed some statistical analysis and used the results to record two songs: "The Most Wanted Song" and "The Most Unwanted Song." "The Most Wanted Song" is five minutes of soaring lyrics and cheesy soulpop, and is mostly comprised of the word "baby" repeated over and over. "The Most Unwanted Song" combines tuba, bagpipes, hip-hop, sopranos, singing children, commercial advertisements, holiday lyrics, and cowboys in a twenty-one minute tour-de-what-the-fuck. Both were compiled into an album called The People's Choice Music. You can find recordings of both songs (and an interesting critique) here.

The irony is that the Worst Song Ever is actually quite good (in a weird and fascinating way), while the Best Song Ever is excruciatingly predictable. Take heed, recording industry aspirants.


female gape #2

See these photographs? Aren't they cool?

At SIGGRAPH last summer, I had to guard the electronic theater, and I was stationed right across from where the center photo was hung. There was nothing to do for many, many hours except stare at it, and consequently I picked up a bizarre fixation with it.

This has inspired at least one major element of my screenplay.
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