Twine and maps

I attended a really interesting Art & Tech workshop on Interactive fiction last night given by Dan Hett, hosted by BOM.
I’m really pleased to see that Interactive fiction is having a bit of a renaissance at the moment, not that it ever went away, but when everyone got seriously into VR the humble hypertext driven interactive narrative got a bit pushed to one side.

I really like the simplicity of interactive, hypertext fiction. It’s an invitation to the writer to get creative with storytelling, without too much tech getting in the way. I think one of the failings of VR is that the ‘magic’ of it, the glamour of such clever tech, can sometimes cover up poor game play with all VR’s bells and whistles.

Twine ticks a lot of happy boxes for me, it’s pretty simple to use, (I can use it!) but is flexible enough that if your coding skill-set is pretty good, you can do some fun things with it. It’s Open Source, which I love and it is free, which is also a huge plus point. Also you can use it right in your browser and files are saved as HTML so it’s really easy for anyone to download and play your creation.

I used twine to create Gurus of the Apocalypse last year, my first attempt at interactive fiction. In the end I couldn’t figure out how to get the Blogger site I was using to accept the HTML code for the story, so I ended up doing hard links to each page which was a pain (Blogger is not the platform it once was, sadly, but that’s another story).

One thing that Dan pointed out yesterday was that Twine is created for ‘mapping.’ He meant that in terms of mapping the story mainly, as Twine has a graphic interface that makes it very easy to see how items link to each other. He also mentioned this mapping capability for things like organising Role Play events, and mapping tasks for projects. But my brain immediately went to the main definition of mapping = mapping!
Map-ing.

I’m exploring my relationship to paths here and I’m thinking about that all the time. I now have a vague idea swirling around in my head which links Twine to a map of a path…is this a way I can write a story? Is this a way I can develop this project? I’m fumbling here but there is definitely a connection happening inside my cerebral cortex. Twine and maps. Interesting…..

This is a path

I have created a gallery of 6 coloured photographs, inspired by the Ladybird reading books I had as a child. The colours are very saturated.

Image 1 was taken in my local park and shows a short path under a group of birch trees growing on a bank next to the access road to the park. The image caption reads ‘This is a path.’

Image 2 is a photograph of a tarmack path leading up a short hill between a row of elder people’s bungalows and a grassy verge with trees. There is no road, it is a footpath and accessible only to pedestrians. The image caption reads ‘This is a path.’

Image 3 shows a very narrow path, probably made by people and dogs, winding through some long grass and under trees at the edge of a park. It shows where people want to walk, making a path where one did not exist before. The image caption reads ‘This is a path.’

Image 4 is similar to 3, it is a photograph of a path made by people walking across the grass, under trees, in my local park. The path, which is simply a line of earth where people have trod away the grass, is wider than the path in image 3. The image caption reads ‘This is a path.’

Image 5 is a photograph of a suburban pavement running between people’s homes and a road. There are a few trees between the pavement and the road. In the near distance the back of a van can be seen jutting out from a driveway, half blocking the pavement. The image caption reads ‘This is not a path.’

Image 6 is a photograph of the access road and pavement leading to a park. A bright yellow height barrier can be seen blocking access to tall vehicles. Two cars and two small vans can be seen in the photograph, they are all parked on the pavement on the far side of the barrier. The image caption reads ‘This is a pavement. It is blocked.’

How to carry a drawing device?

Diagram sketch
Rough sketches exploring how to carry a drawing device
Another rough sketch exploring how to carry a drawing device

I did some rough sketches this morning to help me figure out how I might carry a drawing device. In the past, I’ve carried the devices hidden in a rucksack, or held in front of me and I also put devices inside paper shopping bags that other people could carry.

I think how you carry something affects your relationship with/to the thing. I usually have a rucksack on my back, so carrying a drawing device that way feels commonplace. Carrying anything in my rucksack is an ordinary everyday thing.
Holding the device in my hands changes how I think of it. Firstly the device is visible to others so the drawing it is making is a public drawing. Inside the rucksack it is a secret thing. Holding the device with two hands alters my balance as I am walking, alters my gait. The drawing is the drawing of my walk and a drawing of how I am holding the device.

What if I attached the device to my arm, or my leg? How would that feel? Would it alter the way the drawing looks from say, putting it in a rucksack?

Carrying the device like a handbag or shopping bag seems somehow neglectful, again a sort of commonplace, everyday thing.

Carrying the device cradled in my arms feels very different. Again, it would alter my gait, but it would also feel, I think, reverent.

Wearing the devices strapped to my body might make me feel very embarressed unless I disguised it in some way. I nearly always wear a dress when I am walking, so I could possibly hide it it I wanted to. Do I want to?

Defining the path – 01

Dictionary definitions for ‘path:’
1. a way or track laid down for walking or made by continual treading.
2. the course or direction in which a person or thing is moving.
3. a course of action or way of achieving a specified result.

For this residency I am particularly interested in the first definition, though I have a feeling that the other two definitions are going to be relevant too.

My personal definition (and there are no doubt many holes in my reasoning) is that a path is a line through a landscape along which a person or group of people can travel, generally on foot or in wheelchairs.
Once a vehicle is used, a cycle or car for instance, I think a path becomes a road. However, a track can be a path and it may be used by vehicles or pedestrians.
Then there are ‘ways’ which can also be tracks and may fall into the definition of a road. Ways are generally ancient and are used by foot traffic as well as horse drawn vehicles, for instance bridleways.. (I really like the term ‘way’ to describe a path. Both path and way have multiple meanings, and those meanings include the spiritual and esoteric).

Here I must acknowledge that how I think and write about paths, tracks and ways is totally defined by my ethnic and cultural heritage and the country in which I have lived for most of my life. I’m white British, a mix of Irish, English and a smattering of Scottish and Scandinavian. I grew up in the countryside and do not feel comfortable in urban environments, though I do currently live in a suburb of Birmingham.
My relationship to paths and ways comes from walking or living in the Cotswolds, Wales, the Midlands, Yorkshire and the West and East coast of Britain. I’m not a wild path walker, I’m a traveller of farmland and gentle hills. I’m a hobbit in all the ways that matter.

I vehemently dislike the suburbs, despite my current living situation. I get no joy walking the endless pavements around my home patch. For me, for some reason I’m struggling to define, a pavement is not a path. I mean technically, it is, but it doesn’t feel like a path. Why is that?
There is something about the feeling of containment that a path has, that a pavement doesn’t have. A pavement is an edge, a border. A pavement is a designated space alongside a road built for motor vehicles. It is conceded to pedestrians and can be taken from them at any moment, despite laws meant to protect us. Pavements might be cut by access routes and driveways, blocked by delivery vehicles and cars, used by speedy cyclists as well as those on foot or in chairs. Pavements are contested, disrespected spaces, sometimes aggressively so.

Thinking about pavements and how problematical using them can be, I realise that the paths I walk in the city or suburb are imaginary paths. I regularly follow certain routes around my home, to the shops, to a favourite park, to the bus stop or train station. These routes can be along pavements, down alleyways, across parkland, over roads. There is no physical path on the ground that I am following when I walk these routes, but there is a path inside my head. It’s more like the route marked out on a paper map where it is the pencil line that becomes the path, that makes a path across the symbolic space, where a physical path may not exist.

In conclusion and for the purposes of the work I am exploring during this residency, my definitions of a path are:
1. a path is for people, not motor vehicles.
2. a path is a line through a landscape and this line can be a physical or a conceptual path created by following a route on the ground.
3. path is not a pavement, but a conceptual path may include the use of a pavement

Dirt path

It’s not a straight path,
tarmacked and hot under sun,
it’s a dirt path,
meandering
under the oaks.

The path is
freckled with shadows,
as I am freckled.
It’s a redhead’s path,
one for
forest beings,
those who
value
concealment.

It’s a path for
being quiet on.
For walking,
softly,
with silent
footsteps.
Neatly,
along the brown, bare earth.

Dirt Path (audio version)

Curious nostalgia

It’s strange to be a visitor in a city you used to call home.
There are places; shops, cafes, buildings, whole streets that I once felt affection for, my university, my favourite cafe, the library and bookshop where I worked, all places that made this city feel like home for a while.
Walking through here today has been very odd. It’s not home any more and the old affections seem to have morphed into something closer to… curiosity? It’s hard to identify the emotion, but I feel an unexpected emotional distance from places that once evoked strong feelings.

The paths however are a different story. This city is a very busy tourist destination, and as a local I walked through it on the hunt, seeking out the quietest streets, dodging through the crowds, avoiding the tourist traps.
I, a being who is almost pathological in my desire to avoid humans, mentally mapped a whole network of quiet paths, roads, streets, snickleways and alleys to get myself through the city by the least busy, least crowded routes. I rarely took the shortest way to my destination, if a longer route was human free, or relatively so.
I can’t recall those routes just by thinking of them, I have a terrible mental memory, but coming here and re-walking them, some 13 years later, I discover that my body memory is superb. My body knows where to go, which turn to take. Even as my mind struggles to recall what is down that alley, around that corner. My body knows.

Weirdly, I feel as if the paths know me too. Buildings, attractions, shops, those things are mere curiosities now, and they care nothing for me, but the routes, the paths I walk again here, they feel welcoming, embracing.
‘Walk there, cross this road here, come down this alley, yes take that corner,’ I feel welcomed back to the old paths, welcomed into this place, this landscape…

Interview with artist …kruse

Jamie Wyld (Vital Capacities’ director): Thanks for being part of the Vital Capacities residency programme! Can you say a little about yourself and your work, perhaps in relation to what you’re thinking about doing during the residency?

Thank you for inviting me to take part! I always say that I am a neurodivergent visual artist and writer and kind of leave it at that. I tend to compartmentalise my life; over here is art, over there is everything else. I’m trying to bring things together into a more cohesive whole these days though, because that feels more honest. So a more accurate description would be, I am a neurodivergent visual artist, walker, knitter, writer, sewist, pagan, crone-in-becoming, small business owner, mother, disabled, white, cis female, human animal/cyborg. I draw, design, make, illustrate, write stories, write non fiction and spend a great deal of time in an imaginary post-climate-crisis future with a cyborg called AuTCRONE. I’m currently learning to play the recorder.

JW: One of the aims of Vital Capacities is to create an accessible site (so more people can use it) – how do you think this will be an opportunity to develop your way of working?

I think this is a wonderful and important project and I am aware that I actually don’t do enough to make my own online presence more accessible. My neurodivergent brain really struggles with this, writing Alt Text is tortuous for instance (because my brain struggles to simplify things) but I want everyone to be included so I am looking forward to learning more about creating accessible content. I hope it will become second nature to do after spending time working on Vital Capacities site.

JW: What would you like to achieve through the residency? Is there a particular project you’ll be focusing on?

Yes, I’m going to be using this residency as an opportunity to research my interest in paths and tracks. Walking is a very complex thing for me and touches on many different areas of my life and practice. For instance, I have psoriatic arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disorder, which means that my body often hurts and walking can be painful, yet walking also helps ease my condition, helping my joints stay relatively flexible. I am invested in the idea of walking as medicine, though I don’t think it has to be done on two feet. Following a path, actually or metaphorically, especially a path that takes a person outside and into the world, feels like an inherently positive act. 

I find walking a very creative thing to do and I often record my walks using video, sound, photography, writing and drawing. I also use walking as an opportunity to test my ideas regarding clothing, hand work, relationship to materials, my relationship to capitalism and testing minimalism/essentialism. Walking connects me in a very direct way with my ancestors, with history, and is an invitation to become an animal among animals. 

Hmm, walking is a very complex subject for me! (laughs) I want to use this residency to  tighten the focus of my thoughts, using the notion of The Path to direct my making and thinking.

JW: How do you see the next few weeks unfolding? Where would you like it to take you?
One of the things I am looking forward to is the relationship with the other artists and curators involved in the residency. I’m excited to see what this cohort is working on and hope that some creative and interesting conversations will happen between us.
I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to work ‘deep,’ to focus on my interest in paths and tracks. I don’t really know where I will end up, I’m just following the path as it unfolds, I don’t want to know where I will be at the end of this journey until I get there!

Interview with artist, Nadine Mckenzie

Jamie Wyld (Vital Capacities’ director): Thanks for being part of the Vital Capacities residency programme. Can you say a little about yourself and your work, perhaps in relation to what you’re thinking about doing during the residency?

I’m a dancer with a disability from South Africa. I have been working professionally for the past 14 years. I am also a teacher in inclusive dance and have received training from Alito Alessi. My interest for integrated work started after I saw an inclusive dance production when I was a student and this shifted how I see disability and dance. What stood out most was at some point during that performance I stopped seeing the wheelchair and I saw the artist, and in that moment I realised this is how I wish society could see persons who live with disabilities.

During this residency I wish to explore my relationship to my chair. What this means to me and how it has impacted my life. This is something that I’ve realised in my own journey; something that I, a lot of times, have not paid attention to. How much I rely on it, need it, and, at times, forget about it.

JW: One of the aims of Vital Capacities is to create an accessible site (so more people can use it) – how do you think this will be an opportunity to develop your way of working?

Accessibility has always been something very close to my heart. There is always room for growth and improvement. How I think this will be an opportunity to develop how I work. To start with I am very interested and feel very passionate about creating work that is accessible for persons with visual impairments. Although I do not have experience in how to go about creating this access I am open and ready to explore and look into this.

JW: What would you like to achieve through the residency? Is there a particular project you’ll be focusing on?

What I wish to achieve? I’d like to see this exploration come to life with a short video presentation. With this my hope is to shift how we see wheelchairs, or any assistive devices  and the fear attached to it, or that we as people have placed on it. To leave us with something to think and talk about and have more room for acceptance of the unknown.

JW: How do you see the next few weeks unfolding? Where would you like it to take you?

At this point, to be honest, I would like to learn as much as possible from everyone I meet and am excited to be in a creative space again. Find out how these ideas and conversations take shape and unfold in creation.

Break Time… in resistance of professional hyperability

A meme of a huge muscly videogame monster from the videogame Diablo. The monster has rams horns on it's head and a bald round head with spiky slimy teeth and tusks coming out of the sides of it's open mouth. It's wearing some kind of tight leather wrestler style unitard and it#s holding a staff in it's right hand made of bones with a ram's head on top, in the left hand there is a scithe made of a horn and a metal chain wrapped around the arm. The monster's skin is covered in bulging muscles and veins, there are cuts across it's body with large metal staples in them. The skin is greyish yellow. There is a fiery glow around the monster and a silhouette of a creatur'es body barely visible hanging upsidedown on the top left. Overlaid is some white text with a red glow around it that says 'YES I TAKE MY VIDEO ART VERY SERIOUSLY... THAT'S WHY I POST IT ON...' Below that is the 'Vimeo' logo in blue and on the bottom left is a Vimeo Staff Pick logo which is a black circle with a white leaf wreath border and the text in the middle 'vimeo STAFF PICK', it has been edited so that it is distorted and wavy.
I’m a professional video artist and my favourite videogame is Diablo.

I have really enjoyed occupying this digital studio space and having a dedicated period of time working on a single project. The support from vital Capacities and Film London has been amazing and I am excited to develop all of my research and tests into something to present as part of the exhibition later this month.

I am battling my own internal ableist voices which are telling me that I could have done MORE, posted more, worked more.. I have been resisting the urge to be professionally hyperable.. (yuck). And in many ways I have failed because I am exhausted.

So now it’s breaktime! If anyone needs me I’ll be in a static caravan on the Yorkshire coast for the week and you can speak to my out-of-office autoresponse until then.

Body Builder – costume test and music teaser

An improvised film test of the muscle costume and PE kit made for me by Max Allen with a new song that I’m making with Hang Linton. A million points to anyone who can figure out where the sample in the song is from or who it is.. I just tried out some different poses and gestures from my research, some different lighting and filmed it on a phone on my studio bed.

Visual Description: I’m wearing a sheer mesh muscle suit, long sleeved top and trousers, and a shiny blonde mullet wig, my own naked body is visible underneath. I am washed in orange light, stood on a white platform in a white room with a dark coloured floor. I pose and flex like a body builder and pull strained open mouthed faces. I am wearing a footy tabard over the top of the muscle suit, it has ‘FORGOT ME PE KIT’ and ‘Ladette’ written on it, it’s blue and red. I’m washed in a bright green light. I lift a footy banner or scarf that says ‘BUGGER OFF’ on it, it has tassles hanging from it, I’m swaying from side to side, I drop it to the floor and direct my right arm out to the side as if declaring something. I am back to wearing just the muscle suit and wig, this time washed in a gentle blue light and lying down on the bed, flexing and posing and pulling strained open mouthed faces.

Audio Description: An electronic bassline track that sounds a little bit like Prodigy with some trip-hop spacey tones thrown in. It features a repeated sample of a middle aged person with a strong accent that is probably from Essex or the East End of London saying in an irritated voice, ‘A loada rubbish, them lot up in the Houses of Parliament, terrible’.

Lulikenstein’s Mascot Monster Bodies

A faint grass background with a creature diving in the foreground, their body made up of several mascot limbs, a yellow angry looking cartoonesque sunburst face, a raised right arm or wing of an eagle mascot, brown with black feather and a white gloved hand, the left arm, also raised, is a green glistening wrist and hand poking out of a brown long sleeve, the face melts down into the body, grey fur with a white fur belly oval, the left leg has blue shorts with a small logo, a yellow leg, white sports socks and black and a red puffy mascot nike trainer, the right is a thick beige fur trunk with a huge bright blue hoof. The legs are bent and arched backwards.

This is an experiment into creating my own hybrid Frankenstein mascot monster bodies in footy diving positions. I would love to do this with irl second hand mascot bodies one day for an installation, taking a few apart and sewing bits back together, so it’s cool to be able to do some digital mock-ups and think about how I can use them sculpturally in an online exhibition to accompany the video work. I’m thinking about some t-shirts one day maybe too. I’m looking forward to developing this idea and creating more of these.

This was created with A LOT of help from Hang Linton and their stellar photoshop skills.

Forgot Me P.E Kit

I’ve been working on a costume with fashion designer, Max Allen, who is a school friend that I’ve known for yonks (since we were teens). The idea was to create something that combined the joke shop fancy dress muscle suits with the saggy and misshapen elements that mascot costumes have, as well as playing with sports kits. (See Research space for inspo images).

A split-screen image of two headless torso mannequins adorned with fleshy mesh-like skin. The left mannequin has the same perspective as a changing room mirror and bulging muscles made of fabric. The right mannequin is posing for its birthday snap beneath a striped red and white banner that says "bugger off" in all caps. Multicoloured tassels hang from the centre of the banner and the mannequin is wearing a red bib that has a neon orange football with hard sports written above.
Continue reading “Forgot Me P.E Kit”

FOUL

An experiment pairing The Champs cover song with a collection of footy dives and drama.

I like the choreographic elements and the theatrical performance of pain and sickness, even though the intention behind it annoys me, as does the amount all of these players are paid.

Next, I want to find a way to integrate a visual description. I tried doing a version of The Champs song as the visual description but it didn’t work because not all of the words were clear in that ‘style’ of singing so I’m going to try another way using a pundit or commentator style recording.

I also want to take into account the attention capacity of viewers and the fast choppy pace of this video could take up more energy than it needs to. I edited it to the length of the song for now but I think it could be shorter. I want to focus much more closely on the gestures present during these performative moments and find ways to slow them down without completely abstracting them.