Tags: art


in soviet unterzoegersdorf, game play you

Two great events at Babycastles yesterday: a screening of GET LAMP and a presentation on Soviet Unterzoegersdorf. GET LAMP is an excellent, well-researched, and surprisingly financially successful set of documentary films on the text-adventure / interactive fiction genre by filmmaker and Internet historian Jason Scott, who also did BBS: The Documentary and runs Textfiles.com. I have little more to say about it other than that it is comprehensive, cleverly shot, and true to the source material, and that I highly recommend it.

Soviet Unterzoegersdorf, on the other hand, warrants a little more exposition.

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You can learn more about Soviet Unterzoegersdorf (and download the first two episodes of the adventure game) here. Yes, that is a ".su" (Soviet Union) top-level domain prefix.

(Crossposted to Standard Doubt, which has a more lenient commenting policy. Hello, monochrom blog readers.)

babycastles: the copenhagen interpretation

Babycastles at the Silent Barn. Holy shit. Thank you so much about telling me about this place, drabheathen, because even with my growing New York game industry connections I would never have found them in a million years.

You know Babycastles is on the true cutting edge of avant-garde because it is located in Bumfuck, Nowhere. Not Bumfuck, New York. It's Bumfuck, Nowhere even by Midwestern standards. Potentially even more Bumfuck, Nowhere than a random spot in a cornfield in Ohio because corn implies that someone runs over that spot with a harvester once a season. To get there, I had to get on the L, off the L, onto a shuttle, and back onto the L. And then I hit the end of the line and had to walk thirty minutes. That's how far away it was. (I'm not sure that even technically counts as Queens anymore. Or NYC proper, for that matter.) I walked past the place three times before finally finding it, because the spot where Google Maps said it would be was a shitty dive bar with its sign in Spanish next to a row of derelict houses and a falling-apart warehouse.

Turns out it wasn't in the bar. Nor was it in the warehouse. Surprise! It was a random door cut into the drywall of one of the derelict houses. No sign, no windows, no lights--the splintery plywood door nearly fell off the hinge when I pulled it open. I was worried I'd gotten the address wrong and wandered into a drug cartel hideout or something, the kind of place where they tie up intruders and hit them with chair legs under the light of a single swinging bulb.

And yet. You open that door, and...sound. Light. It's something out of H.G. Wells, a portal to an entirely different slice of cake.

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explosions in the sky

Tired of combing the Net for sprites--going to put out a call.

Folks! Artists and non-artists alike! Want to spend half an hour doing something fun and creative for one of my future Nintendo DS projects? Draw me spaceships! Lots of them! Like the ones you used to doodle during class in high school! Or asteroids, missiles, lasers, cargo containers, debris, explosions, astronaut hippies urging the player to Give Space Peace A Chance--anything you'd find floating or zooming or whirring about in a space battle. The more the better!

Images should:

  • not be copyrighted
  • be, due to Nintendo DS hardware limitations, a maximum 64 pixels wide and 64 pixels high, with 16 pixels by 32 pixels being roughly the size of a starfighter (if you want to do a huge mothership or something, though, shoot me an email or LJ message and we'll talk)
  • be 256-color color depth, with a maximum of 16 different colors per picture (you can check this when you save the file in photoshop or mspaint...alas, this means no cool gradients or shiny effects, unless you're really creative)
  • look good against a black background (anything pure black will show up as transparent)
  • be saved to BMP, JPG, PNG, or GIF format
  • be awesome ("ugly and thrown together in MS Paint" can still be "awesome")

Include any notes you would like to add, like "the big tube down the back is a railgun, pew pew!," "the aerodynamics let it move in a zigzag," or "the cargo bay is full of cows." I can't promise I'll incorporate them if I use your spaceship in a game, but I'll definitely consider all of them.

The more drawings you send me, the more likely I am to use them! And of course you can send me frames for animated pictures, with each frame being a maximum of 64 x 64 pixels in size, but that's a lot more work than I'm expecting anyone to do for a frivolous little thing like this. That would be worth, like, me buying you lunch at the very least.

Don't worry, I'll credit you if I use your art, and I won't sell anything that uses it without your permission. This is just a for-fun, for free thing--I've always wanted to put together a freeware schmup game and the biggest obstacle so far is that I don't have the talent or inclination to draw dozens of sprites.

wait, uncrop. that reflection on the window. zoom. enhance. rotate by 270.

Dear television writers: I know that most of you are from the early 1970s, are not physics or computer imaging experts, and are writing on tourniquet-tight deadlines. But for the love of all that is spiffy how did you get away with this for so long--with teams of tech-savvy camera people, digital editors, lighting folk making it for you, not to mention Wikipedia at your fingertips--for this to become a trope:

CSI is by far the worst offender on contemporary TV for this trope, but it is by no means the first. At least Blade Runner was science fiction:

In an era in which Windows Movie Maker and iMovie ship with most new computers, are audiences really still so naive about image manipulation that they can continue to suspend their disbelief about this bullshit?

jesus the christ has a posse

From their ideology, you'd think Christian anarchists were a bunch of delusionally idealistic, paranoid, hypocritical, theocratic, close-minded, solipsist crackpot zealots who oppose the state to the point of moral neglect.
From their ideology, you'd think Christian libertarians were a bunch of principled, devout, well-read, concilatory philosopher-kings who understand the realities of human nature and attempt, perhaps misguidedly, to reconcile it with the necessity of the state in a rational way.
Somehow, each side of the theocratic small-government camp has ended up with the other side's followers.

(For the record, I am neither.)

In a perfect world, Christian libertarians would behave like Christian anarchists, and Christian anarchism would have little reason to exist.
Alas, both philosophies are predicated on the existence of an imperfect world.

There's no questioning, however, that Christian anarchists have more impressive iconography.

This is the logo of Jesus Radicals, a site devoted to "challenging the church's involvement in the idols of miltiarism, capitalism, and the state." Yes. Your eyes do not deceive you. That is indeed the anarchist raised fist with a hole through the wrist.

Jesus in the style of Che Guevara, subverting the historical roots of anarchism and socialism with popular iconography of the Passion. From The Jesus Manifesto, which is far too sane and open-minded (and astonishingly free of kookery) to be a real radical leftist site. Their title banner is pretty clever, too.

Image from The Jesus Manifesto's current front page article Letters From A Common Sense Atheist series, which contains--unabridged--an exchange of letters between site owner Mark Van Steenwyk and Common Sense Atheism's Luke Muehlhauser. The letters are posted on both sites, and the debate is astonishingly respectful and insightful, with each participant intelligent, well-read, and well-informed about the other's side--none of the dewy-eyed naivete of undergrads discovering their side's viewpoints for the first time, or the typical befuddlement as to why anyone would think differently. A refreshing change from the usual exchange of insults, personal attacks, and canned arguments that dominate 99.98% of all Internet debate. And it's weirdly appropriate that their names are Mark and Luke.

Not only am I amazed that Steenwyk and Muehlhauser present each others' letters so candidly on each other's sites, I'm impressed by Steenwyk's humility in choosing this pastiche of the Sistine Chapel ceiling to represent their dialogue. It's a little insulting to his own point of view but it dramatically frames the context of their conversation. The digital wristwatch on the atheist's wrist is a nice touch.

An increasingly popular Christian anarchist symbol, which repurposes the Spanish Revolution circled A to be an alpha and an omega. (This and other Christian anarchist icons at Squidoo.)

...okay, even I agree that this one makes no sense.

like the navidson record, but less leafy

The Hallway from The Hallway on Vimeo.

This is my new favorite installation piece.

In an also somewhat Danielewski-esque vein, go check out the trailer for After Last Season, if you haven't already. It is striking in its absence of all the things we look to enjoy in a film--it defies interpretation because there's nothing to interpret. The props are made of cardboard, the dialogue is mundane, the plot is nonsensical. Everything, from the setting to the composition to the characterization, is painstakingly crafted to be as generic as possible. It's as if the entire film was stitched together from the cutting room floor of a film that actually made sense. Jason Coffman of Film Monthly.com is one of the few people who actually went to see the film, and he has posted a very cerebral review of what he thinks is going on. Personally, I think Coffman gives the filmmakers too much credit--I think they merely strove to produce a film that literally no one could enjoy, an irony-defying anti-spectacle that would bore and confound even the most easily amused of potheads. Which, perversely, makes the entire concept of this film pretty entertaining. It's like an elaborate practical joke played on an imaginary audience.