So, what’s this risograph thing?

Outline image of risograph printed in pink.
An outline image of a risograph machine

As the work I’m developing moves towards the print stage, it’s time to explain a little more about the risograph process.

My print and printmaking experience started with etching (particularly photo-etching), letterpress, and developed to include screenprinting, and various relief processes, before the transition to digital. Last year, I got the opportunity to develop some work with my friend and collaborator Ruth Jones, who suggested we learn to use the risograph process. This post uses images from developing that work.

Continue reading “So, what’s this risograph thing?”

“Hello work”

This morning I came across the following article related to problems with machine translation (which I’ve been referring to as AI transcription). This has been flagged by language professionals in Japan; it was interesting to see them dealing with the same perceptions of mistranslation as just amusing – they raise the problem of the dangers with miscommunication.

“…the group is most concerned about the negative impact that official miscommunications could have on tourism and Japan’s growing foreign community in the case of an earthquake or a medical emergency.”

Living = Dark Matter

“The official website of Meguro ward in Tokyo, for example, renders kurashi – or “living” – as “dark matter”, while the Kobe municipal government, turns sumai (home) as “I’m sorry”, the machine translation having apparently misread the original word as sumanai, a casual form of apology.”

www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/18/hello-work-or-job-centre-language-experts-japan-english

Hong Kong protesters borrow tactics from battle royale game

First-aid kits that looks like zip-lock bags with pink disinfectant solution, saline and bandages, were left along the roadside next to some plants. They were arranged in a straight line around 1 metre apart.
First-aid kits were left along the roadside for protesters to pick up. Each pack contains saline, bandages and other essential supplies.
A scene in the battle royale game Pubg with nine mobile first aid kits scattered on the ground. There a carpet with the gamer's avatar helping another, a first aid kit that is opened to show the content such as scissors and bandages.
A scene in the battle royale game Pubg with mobile first aid kits scattered on the ground.

Hong Kong protesters borrowed tactics from online multi-player games such as PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (Pubg). They would leave supplies such as helmets, masks, umbrellas, water and first aid kits along the roadside for others to pick up.

In the beginning of the movement (June 2019), there were supplies stations at protest sites. Protesters communicated with each other using hand signs, so that supplies could be passed down a human chain to frontliners. But later police began to crack down on these supplies stations. As many protesters are from a generation that grew up with gaming, they very naturally had a tacit understanding with each other that led them to take up different positions during confrontations with the police. Supplies such as helmets, umbrellas, water and first-aid kits were left along the road side for frontliners to pick up as in Pubg.

In October 2019, a Japanese writer/journalist Minetoshi Yasuda for Bungeishunjū came to Hong Kong to research about the protest. After conducting a series of interviews with frontliners, he concluded that protesters were familiar with military tactics because many of them were players of survival games and fans of Japanese manga and anime. He called the protest movement ‘Otaku War’.

TUNER

Tuner an audiovisual piece originally designed as an experimental live AV project showing initially at Somerset House Londons AGM 2018 festival (since performed at Club Adriatico, L.E.V. Festival, Genot Centre, MK Gall, Xolo,Bleep) and has endured various reincarnations. Now as part of Vital Capacities residency I am developing it to be playable piece as a download and also a recorded showcase! The project has primarily been designed from a solo performance point of view. Programming all the input events and actions via audio instrument protocols with MIDI and OSC. This was to allow a unique haptic setup where I could control multiple elements live and be more at home, as it is part of my music practice also, recsund!
Continue reading “TUNER”

Environmental Issues in Game/ Sims

Apocalypse in games is considered the norm in the game industry, often focusing on first person shooters. Games that involve ethical dilemnas are not as common. However things are changing! I’m going to use this as a simple thread of collecting environmentally conscious and educational storylines in games and simulations.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board
SeriousGeoGames
/Discarded computer products in a municipal landfill. The majority of second-hand electrical goods that are imported to Ghana from developed countries are beyond repair and are either dumped or crudely “recycled”. Greenpeace is campaigning to pressurise the producers of electronic goods to remove the hazardous chemicals from their goods and to become more responsible for end-of-life products.

Next-Gen Gaming Is an Environmental Nightmare
https://www.wired.com/story/xbox-playstation-cloud-gaming-environment-nightmare
Morphy
A Bit like my game /project ‘Tuner’ Morphy stars Morphy, an alien who has crash-landed on an unknown planet and needs to find his missing crew members. Designed to teach players the fundamentals of animal adaptation, players must face a slew of challenging platforming obstacles that can only be overcome by scanning animals whose traits are specialized to their environments. The scanned traits can then be added to Morphy’s abilities, helping players better navigate the gorgeously illustrated environment present in the metroidvania-style game. Morphy is one of six digital STEM learning games created by Filament Games for the Smithsonian Science Education Center.
Rust

Survival games have been a long time in the making but as of late they have ..evolved 😛 . Rust is a good example of gaining trust with fellow players in order to stay alive but also brutal in its human betrayals 🙁

ECO
An expansive, open-world online survival game, Eco tasks players with collaborating with one another in order to build a sustainable civilization using only the resources available to them within the game’s simulated ecosystem. Faced with the threat of an impending meteor collision, players must work together to build a society capable of stopping the meteor without destroying the ecosystem in the process.

Force

The symbol that represents the physical concept of ‘Force’ from the Dutil-Dumas message.
The Dutil-Dumas symbol of 'force' is built with dark grey 'Polished Blackstone Slab' on the main road outside the virtual space of Cattle Depot. The image shows a night scene with street lights in the background. The front entrance of Cattle Depot is on the left. A panda bear is checking out the newly built sign on a starry night, to see if there's anything suspicious.
The symbol of ‘Force’ outside the virtual space of Cattle Depot. Panda is checking out the sign to see if there’s anything suspicious.

FORCE: violent physical action used to obtain or achieve something (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

Example sentence:
• The government has relied on brute force to respond to public discontent.

Recreating Hong Kong protest experience in VR game

A night scene in a home-made VR game by Hong Kong activists. Protesters stand behind a barricade as police deploy tear gas. The barricade is made with metal barriers dismantled from the sidewalk. The protesters with yellow helmets and gas masks stand in the foreground  with their backs facing the audience. The barricade is in the mid-ground. The cityscape of Hong Kong with neon signs and high rises are the backdrops of this scene.
A scene in a home-made VR game by Hong Kong activists.

In October 2019, a group of Hong Kong activists have developed a homemade computer game that uses virtual reality to recreate what it is like to take part in pro-democracy protests sweeping the financial hub. Put together in less than a week, “Liberate Hong Kong” allows gamers to don a VR headset and dodge tear gas and rubber bullets during a nighttime clash in the district of Mongkok, a regular scene of battles between police and protesters in the real world.

The developers said they decided to create the game after local eSports player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung was punished by Blizzard Entertainment for shouting a pro-democracy slogan during a live-streamed interview following a competition win.

https://hongkongfp.com/2019/11/13/hong-kong-protests-re-imagined-homemade-virtual-video-game/

Audio description of the visual of the above video

On the other hand, there is a protest game in China called ‘Everyone Hit the Traitor’. The web game lets players beat protesters and pro-democracy activists.

Some view the gaming world as a utopian medium to explore and express their social, ethical and political values, but like any technology, gaming is not deterministic, it is not either good or bad. Video games become a platform where the feature of social movement — Movement-countermovement interaction manifests itself. The pro-democracy camp uses video games to express their political views while the pro-establishment camp borrow the same strategy to counter these views. Such interaction is in fact very common in the real world.

Tapestry of Colors

Street shrines and altars, Hong Kong – A deep longing for the vibrant culture and language of Hong Kong. My fondest memories involve our Ancestor altars and festivals around ghosts, the fires, the festivals and the feasts, I miss that rich ancestor based tapestry guiding our lives. Researching altars to recreate my own altar for my piece.

Thinking about the many nights spend enraptured by the burning flames. Remembering my Grandmother teaching me how to fold funerary money with joss paper, the shape resembling gold ingots of time gone by. I remember the festival of Ghosts, the one I fondly called Ghost New Year, where we visited all the graves of our direct ancestors, cleaning their graves, feeding them and praying with them, and finally a feast with them.

Our final gravesite was in the hills covered by fruit trees and an old stone tomb with mottled and dark gray stone. The smell of joss sticks and candles burning mingling with the sweet smell of the fruit trees and the full smells of tangerines, rice wine and roasted pork. Perhaps my fascination as a child is because of the magic surrealism of folk tales, fables and old Chinese festivals mingled together to give me a fantastical childhood full of legends, Ancestors and learnings.

As I prepare this piece I think of all the beautiful moments of richness, sound and tapestry of colors, sounds and sights that filled my childhood.




Access Statement:

Photo of the artist holding smiling behind an industry film camera.
Onset as Cinematographer with LIFT Filmmentor program (2014) Photo by Rolla Tahir.

My name is Jaene F. Castrillon and I am a professional artist residing in Tkaronto, more commonly known as Toronto, Canada. I am an artist that lives with physical, cognitive and psychiatric disabilities. This is my access statement.






First I would like to acknowledge the land that I am on….. Treaty 13 Territory of Tkaronto:

The sacred land on which [I live] has been a site of human activity for 15,000 years. This land is the territory of the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. The territory was the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy and the Ojibwe and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.

Today, the meeting place of Toronto is still the home to many indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work in the community, on this territory.

**This statement was developed by the Elders Circle (Council of Aboriginal Initiatives). It was last revised November 6, 2014.**



A note about Land Acknowledgements. Acknowledging the stewardship of Indigenous people of the land is not enough. We much learn their ways and care for the land as well as they have. As part of that contract, it is understood that we must also work on our respect of Indigenous people’s and ways of life. We must also learn to be humble enough to understand that nature has it’s own natural law.
Until we learn to live in collaboration with the people, the land and everything in creation as equals and relations, only then, will the land acknowledgement have any honor in the words. The land is the blood of it’s people. Walk softly on it knowing that as we walk on this land, we walk on the blood and bones of the ancestors of the Indigenous peoples who have resided here far longer and lived with the land far better then us.

I would like to say that, for me, being anti poverty, anti oppressive and anti racist is an accessibility issue. As a person who is 2Spirit (gender non conforming) and Indigenous, it is important for my work environments to be as anti oppressive as possible. This includes removing ablest, homophobic, Trans-phobic, sexist, colonial and oppressive mechanisms and languages in the work we do and the environments we work in.

In addition here are some other infographs from Home Office Digital, to help us understand how to accommodate people living with disabilities that may be different needs from ours. For more information, contact: access@digital.homeoffice.gov.uk

A Conversation (Word Salad)

This week I’ve been focusing on practicalities for making risograph prints. As my region (England) is in lockdown, this involves a lot of forward planning, material purchase and prep that’s not very interesting to read about. So I’ve also been experimenting with AI transcripts to create a little script from some of the most egregious examples of distortion (looking at you, Microsoft Teams).

This has been added as a document and images.

The aim is to give the reader a feel of what it’s like trying to make sense of a situation which isn’t accessible, and the impossibility of acting on information which doesn’t make sense. During the current pandemic, misunderstanding is not merely an amusing anecdote (a la Auberon Waugh’s tale of mishearing “press freedom” and delivering a lecture on “breast feeding”), it’s dangerous. Currently, the UK offers no BSL interpretation for government briefings. While the BBC provides interpreters for government announcements, not everyone has access to the BBC, and clips shown on social media won’t be inherently accessible. And scientific briefings are not shown with BSL interpretation. It’s the government’s responsibility, not the BBC’s. Too many organisations push the responsibility for accessing information onto individuals rather than thinking about how they can make it straightforward.

So, anyway, I’ve been tiger, because you know, the man who chases two hairs catches mom.

Digital Library of Banned Books in Minecraft

This video is a fly-through of the virtual library in Minecraft. With interviews of banned writers and journalists from Russia, Vietnam and Saudi.
An image from The Uncensored Library project. This is a view of the front entrance of the virtual library in Minecraft. A virtual sculpture of a raised fist holding a dip pen in a garden with trees and grass is in the foreground. The library itself is slightly of focus in the background in order to emphasize the sculpture. The library is built using a neoclassical architectural style with big columns and a domed rooftop. It is intended to resemble well-established institutions such as the New York Public Library, as well as stylistically allude to the authoritarian structures the project aims to subvert.
An image from The Uncensored Library project. The library is intended to resemble well-established institutions such as the New York Public Library, as well as stylistically allude to the authoritarian structures the project aims to subvert.
https://uncensoredlibrary.com/en
  • Media freedom activists have built a 125 million block library in a Minecraft map called the “Uncensored Library” which contains a collection of banned publications and is available to read for users within oppressive regimes that otherwise censor such information.
  • The publications are available in English and the original language. The texts within the library are contained in in-game book items, which can be opened and placed on stands to be read by multiple players at once. These articles generally discuss censorship, unjust punishment, and other critiques of the writer’s government.
  • The Uncensored Library works because though many of the works currently within the library are censored, the Minecraft software is not currently censored in any country.
  • The Chinese government may try to lean on Microsoft to remove the map from within the game. Worst yet, the Chinese government may leave the map up and instead use their powers to log information on who accesses the Uncensored Library within Minecraft and China and forward that information to their internet police.

10 November 2020

A message from Minecraft that says my character Rosy Leavers fell out of the world and died.
Rosy fell into void on 10 November 2020 and died.

In trying to free the animals and save them from falling into the void, Rosy died in the first week of her residency in Cattle Depot.

Part 1: Protests in Animal Crossing

A scene from Animal Crossing. A masked female protester stands in front of a banner with the slogan 'Liberate Hong Kong, Revolutions of our times'. The protester has an eye patch that references the first-aider who was shot in the eye by police during a protest in August 2019. The colourful post-its on her clothes reference Hong Kong's Lennon Wall.
A scene from Animal Crossing. A masked female protester stands in front of a banner with the slogan ‘Liberate Hong Kong, Revolutions of our times’. The protester has an eye patch that references the first-aider who was shot in the eye by police during a protest in August 2019. The colourful post-its on her clothes reference Hong Kong’s Lennon Wall.
Burning torches and a protest banner, that reads 'Free Hong Kong, Revolution Now', on a beach in Animal Crossing. Gamers are free to whack the portrait of Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong on the beach. There are 5 characters in the background cheering for another character who is destroying a portrait of Lam. On the left, here is also a small painting on an easel with the image of a piggy (one of the mascots of Hong Kong protest).
Burning torches and a protest banner on a beach in Animal Crossing. Gamers are free to whack the portrait of Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong on the beach.

Gaming activism is not new. It started as early as 2004 when video games broke into the world of politics, advocacy, and activism. In April 2020, Hong Kong protesters began to shift their protest actions to the virtual world of Animal Crossing because of the restriction of public gatherings in the name of health security. The game was used by Hong Kong activists to spread pro-democracy messages, and consequently it was removed from sale on websites in China.

In July/August, protesters in the US also started to voice out in Animal Crossing and other video games such as World of Warcraft, Splatoon, ToonTown, Grand Theft Auto, and NBA 2K20. In The Sims, a BLM rally hosted by Ebonix (as her avatar is known) was attended by at least 200 players. (from The Guardian)

A screenshot from a Black Lives Matter Animal Crossing rally with 2 black-clad protesters wearing BLM caps and t-shirts.
A screenshot from a Black Lives Matter Animal Crossing rally. https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/aug/07/black-lives-matter-meets-animal-crossing-how-protesters-take-their-activism-into-video-games
A scene from Animal Crossing where protestors sit and chant for Black Lives Matter. 7 characters are sitting in a backyard with a sign at the entrance that says Black Lives Matter. Photos of George Floyd and other victims are one the ground with small bouquets of flowers. There are 2 speech bubbles, one says 'BLM!', the other 'No justice, no peace!'.
A scene from Animal Crossing where protestors sit and chant for Black Lives Matter. With photos of George Floyd and other victims. https://www.businessinsider.com/animal-crossing-users-are-having-virtual-black-lives-matter-protests-2020-6

Lipreading in the age of COVID-19

I was taught lipreading before I began using BSL (British Sign Language) and use the two communication methods contiguously. The term “lipreading” is somewhat misleading, as it’s not just lip patterns that contribute to understanding – you pick up information from the rest of the face, from body language, and from the contextual environment (context is something I’ll be picking up on again). My biggest obstacle is dark sunglasses that block the information you see around people’s eyes; if lip patterns provide information on words, the eye area often gives the equivalent of tone of voice, and lipreading people wearing sunglasses translates as a monotone to me.

During 2020, the ratio has been flipped, with masks preventing lipreading, but often leaving the eyes and surrounding areas clear; I’ve started to notice that I still pick up information, so can (sometimes) recognise tone, even if there’s no way to pick up words. I’ve also noticed hearing people struggling with understanding (with masks muffling voices), and am wondering if this will impact on people’s thinking about hearing loss in the longer term. Will their own difficulties lead to more understanding? Will they turn to D/deaf people as communication experts they can learn from?

I’ve been playing with images from the 1986 edition of “Lipreading – A Guide for Beginners”, masking the lip patterns illustrated. I’m planning a duotone risograph print, perhaps using several of these images – due to local lockdown I can only prep my files at present, so anything shown at this stage is an approximation.

Black and white photo showing a woman's face. Superimposed is an orange facemask. Only her eyes are visible. On the bottom left are the letters "OO"t ar
“OO”- Lipreading in the age of COVID (study for risograph) 2020

香城Online (Heung Shing Online) Part 2

Screenshot of the Heung Sing Online App. The key image is an illustration of a black bloc leveling up to a frontliner in full gear with gas mask, helmet and umbrella. These two characters stand on a grassland with a blue sky. The illustrations are created in the style of pixel art, with game energy bars. Underneath the key image are tabs that are available in the app such as 'Frontliners' Duties', 'Protest Schedules' and 'Map of Yellow Shops'. There are 2 QR codes and also facebook, instagram and twitter links.
Screenshot of the Heung Sing Online App. The key image is a black bloc leveling up to a frontliner in full gear with gas mask, helmet and umbrella.

A spin-off of ‘Heung Shing Online’ was launched on 31 December 2019 (with revenue from advertisements donated to the cause). This time it is a real game but in a milder/more peaceful form. It’s actually an information sharing app in disguise of a game. In the app, protesters can find a timeline of major events, memes, information about protest schedules, frontliners’ tasks and a map of all the yellow shops (shops that voice out for the movement) etc. Once you enter the app, you can create your own character like in any other game. There are both tasks online and in real life that you can complete. For online tasks you can tweet info or ‘like’ a post on other protest apps such as LIHKG; for real life tasks you can participate in street protests or visit yellow shops. Once a task is completed, points can be earned.

香城Online (Heung Shing Online) Part 1

First page of the strategy guide of Heung Shing Online, with an image of the adaptation of Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People. A protester with a yellow helmet holds a makeshift shield in one arm and waves the Black Bauhinia flag. Designed by pro-democracy protesters, the flag is a powerful symbol of the fight for freedom. The flag bearer is leading other protesters in full gear (helmet, gas mask, shield,  umbrella) to march forward despite poisonous smoke coming out from tear gas canisters on the ground. The night sky is full of smoke, with a hint of a blazing fire in the background. One protester reaches out his arm to help a fallen protester, while a few others hold up an angry fist. There are banners and also road blocks made out of makeshift materials such as orange-coloured barriers, traffic cones, and yellow metal fences that are commonly found in construction sites.
First page of the strategy guide of ‘Heung Shing Online’, with an image of the adaptation of Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People

The story of ‘Heung Shing Online’ is fascinating. It’s a perfect demonstration of how the virtual and physical realms are blurred. The yellow text in the above image reads,

‘Disclaimer: We urge all netizens to be clearheaded. Please distinguish reality from fantasy. Don’t indulge in gaming to excess. This webpage is only for the purpose of gaming, we don’t instigate nor encourage real violent acts nor criminal behaviour. We take no legal responsibility in the usage of the content of this webpage’

On 19 July 2019, one month into the Anti-ELAB movement, a netizen on LIHKG posted about their idea of creating an online game like Sim City, that mimics the street protests in Hong Kong. (LIHKG is an online forum much like reddit. It was highly influential, generating images, slogans, discussions and strategies. I would say LIHKG was the leader of the leaderless movement, especially in the early months.) On the same LIHKG post, they also uploaded a ‘strategy guide’ created with excel.

‘Heung Shing Online’ was never meant to be a real game, only the strategy guide exists. However it was labeled by pro-Beijing media as the ‘Biggest real life RPG (role-playing game)’ that instigates violence against police, the strategy guide as a training manual for frontliners, especially secondary school kids who ‘do not’ have the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy.

This image indicates Some of the roles in the 'game', including 'Painter' (to create protest art), 'Sentinel', 'Combat Medic' and 'Keyboard Fighter'. The background colour is yellow with 4 illustrations of a piggy in 4 different attires. This particular piggy ('Li-Pig') is one of the mascots of the protest. As an example, the Combat Medic Li-Pig wears a white helmet with the symbol of the red cross. Illustrations of the different supplies (saline solution, bandage, scissors, gloves, isopropyl alcohol, scissors.. etc) floats around the piggy. The texts underneath the illustration list out in details, the supplies needed and the medic's duties.
Some of the roles in the ‘game’, including ‘Painter’ (to create protest art), ‘Sentinel’, ‘Combat Medic’ and ‘Keyboard Fighter’.

In the following months, netizens continued their discussions of strategies on LIHKG with gaming terminology as if the protest was a real RPG. This was to minimise the risk that one day the posts could be used against these netizens in court.

Dutil-Dumas Message

Page 1 of the Dutil-Dumas message. The 1999 message is made of 23 images (or pages) of 127x127 pixels. All the symbols in the messages are created in black and white grid formation. This particular message is an introduction of numerical digits used in human civilisation.
Page 1 of the Dutil-Dumas message
A table of symbols that represent different physical concepts such as energy, density, temperature, etc. All the symbols are built using a 5x7 bitmap.
A table of symbols that represent different physical concepts

The Dutil-Dumas messages were sent out by SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) scientists in 1999. Different messages about the conditions on planet Earth were represented with special symbols designed to maintain a high level of information even in a noisy reception. The whole set of characters is made by small bitmaps of 5×7 pixels.

For my residency, I will selected a series of symbols and re-create them on the virtual art space of Hong Kong’s Cattle Depot Artist Village. I will also compile my own glossary for these symbols on the studio page.

Miku made Minecraft

A screen shot of a website that tell the story of how Hatsune Miku created Minecraft. Miku looks like a Japanese anime character with long, turquoise twintails. She stands in front of a scene from Minecraft.
A screen shot of a website that tells the story of how Hatsune Miku created Minecraft. https://noise.thehardtimes.net/2019/08/29/miku-created-minecraft-how-queer-vocaloid-fandom-brought-a-parody-account-to-infamy/

In 2017, the original creator of Minecraft Markus ‘Notch’ Persson made a series of controversial comments on social media, such as referring to feminism as a “social disease” and claiming that most feminists are “overtly sexist against men.” In March 2019, he made a number of transphobic comments that eventually triggered backlashes including Hatsune Miku declaring herself creator of Minecraft.

Hatsune Miku is a Vocaloid software voicebank developed by Crypton Future Media (Japan) in 2004. The face of the Vocaloid is a 16-year-old girl with long, turquoise twintails. Soon after Notch published his tweets in March, queer Minecraft players decided to have the virtual superstar Miku as Minecraft’s creator.

A tweet by Miku claiming that she is the creator of Mincraft

Subsequently, Minecraft update silently removed references to Persson from the game’s menu, though his name is still in the credits. Persson was not invited to be part of the Minecraft tenth anniversary event later that year, with Microsoft saying that his views “do not reflect those of Microsoft or Mojang”

WE’RE IN!

I managed to get into the Videotages Minecraft realm and be part of past residents Cattle Depot creation zone realizing I accidentally let all the animals out! I’ll try and get them back in!