How can pixel graphics deeply affect?

It is the old combination of form and content – the game world itself and the issues it explores, in this case. If the tension created is believable and meaningful, even simple symbols are enough.

‘The Last Door’ and ‘To the Moon’ have overwhelmingly good reviews from its players. They also have in common a certain simplicity of the graphics- they are deliberately created pixelated, using the bare minimum of pixels. Yet they attract almost cult following.

‘To the Moon’ has a central question: What if some decisions in a long life were made differently? The game starts with an old man near his death. The game is a journey inside his head, discovering secrets form his past, suppressed memories and trauma.

lastdoor3

The Last Door’ creates genuinely oppressive atmosphere. Set against Victorian background, it is about a search for ‘answers beyond’. This goes well with the slightly romantic view of the science of the time, practised mainly by the rich as a pursuit of leisure. The side characters and issues are a big part of the atmosphere. There is madness, PTSD, drug abuse, social issues, fog and a secret society.

Aviary Attorneys is not a pixelated game. It uses very simple, but beautiful animation based on 19th century caricatures by J. J. Grandville. The difficult moral choices the player must make and the severe consequences that follow, make it incredibly immersive. The feelings of guilt, after some of the consequences, are real. It can have several very different endings. I wanted to mention it here because despite its simplicity, it creates a complex world.  It made me reconsider and question more.

 Minimal visuals have been explored (and still are) in theatre as well.  I recently watched a lovely, minimal, shadow puppet performance of the ‘Tin soldier’. The audience genuinely experienced the sad story, even though the actor/storyteller cut the characters out of paper on the stage. There were tears in the audience at the end!

We experience the story (the art) despite the simplicity of the visuals.  Our brains decode the symbols and construct a whole world, that we become immersed in. We fill in the missing parts of the picture. The potential and the readiness of our imagination to live through an imaginary world is immense.

We have a hunger for good stories.

Advertisements
How can pixel graphics deeply affect?

Art and Ritual

Participatory art shares a boundary with ritual. Where does one end and the other one start?

Ritual reconnects community, reminds and renews. It ‘guides’ a community. It strives to create a framework for a messy individual life (baptisms, weddings, funerals…). The study of ritual as practice defines ritual as “set of activities that construct particular types of meanings and values in specific ways.”, it is a “vehicle for construction of relationships of authority and submission”.(Bell 1997, p.82)

Participatory art questions. It makes the participants reconsider, examine their feelings and thoughts about something. This can include reminding. It doesn’t necessarily nurture a community or expect faith.

A good example is Tania Bruguera, she points to something we all know and prefer not to look at. Here she talks about her participatory piece ‘Surplus Value’ exhibited in the Tanks-Tate Modern in 2012.

 

Art and ritual have deep connections, their paths have crossed many times. Yet, they have subtly different roles.

Reference list

BELL, C.M., 1997. Ritual. New York [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press

Art and Ritual

Interactive art

Visiting the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, we were taken by an interactive piece. Part of it are musical benches, that you can play like an instrument. YSP commissioned the art collective Greyworld to create this playful piece in 1999. Their public art is always fun, a little reminder that “life has unexpected joys”(Greyworld).

Here are some moments, featuring the piece in YSP.

This feeds onto my interest in interactive and participatory art. Their example is joyful and surprising.

Interactive art

Onion Skin

 

This piece is about layers of identity. The building up of different aspects of our selves into a coherent person. It is about belonging and home,but also about the reflections in our mind.

It considers as a layer the biological body with its limits and the potential self.

These aspects layered over each other create a sense of self. How do we define ourselves ?

The ambient music is by Project Divinity

Onion Skin

Remebering a homeless woman

I have come across a strange parallel between a contemporary homeless person and a character in several Noh plays.

The character of  Komachi,  is based on a real poetess Ono no Komachi ( 825  to 900 AD). Talented and beautiful in her youth who becomes homeless in her old age. It immediately  made me think of an old lady  I have noticed in London, with shopping bags on her feet.  I later found that the resemblance goes deeper then their homeless status. She also was a talented woman, a concert pianist when young. She has sadly passed away now. Her name is Anne Naysmith, and I used to see her on a car park where we used to park sometimes.

This Christmas we have noticeable more homeless people than previous years. Some of them choose to be homeless and some have no other choices left. It is good to loose the prejudice even a little.

There is a great resource online with a large database of translated plays here Noh play database with downloadable PDFs.

Remebering a homeless woman

Play Ground in John Hansard Gallery

Imagined by the John Hansard Gallery this was a week of play inspired activities. It finished in an Open House Day, on the 16th of July 2016, when the public was invited to visit and take part in our Play Ground. Artists with different concerns and methods were working/playing together for the duration of the project. For me it was a learning experience in several different ways. Observing how other artists develop ideas, learning my own and others peoples boundaries, enjoying collaboration from the simplest play to more engaged pieces. Maybe the most important were the conversations with some of the artists.

Ana Cozendey and me, developed the performance Weaving Memories as a part of the Open House Day.

First, participants were invited to contemplate the art object “Pinned Moth” and read the story behind it. This was my offering, a gift of my private memory. Then they walked and discovered objects, words and smells, as a way of encouraging them to get in touch with a memory that is special to them.

moth

After that they shared their memories, together with the collective weaving of a cocoon of wool. Speaking is easier when doing something with your hands, when people are making something together or alongside each other. Weaving memories was about sharing and encouraging empathy.

There was a participant who works with people that are loosing memories -he cares for dementia patients, also a nurse that works with psychiatric patients and we heard about the artwork they create and the effect that art has on them. We had participants from different parts of the world sharing memories and hopefully finding the common human thread. An older lady remembered her grandmother who worked as a pianist for a silent film cinema. This was well received by everyone weaving at that time! This showed the social aspect of the project. The positive reaction of this group of complete strangers from different parts of the world. People shared and sparked off each other. The threads interconnected and became an object, fine spider-web of soft wool.

 

In the same space there were two more artists, both very inspiring. Laurence Dube-Rushby was working with ashes.

Recently returned from a visit to the refugee camp in Calais, she was speaking in a very sensitive way about the temporality of existence and about loss. Building symbolic houses out of ashes almost ritually, that got destroyed and recreated during the performance. Part of this performance was also a letter by the artist addressed to a young boy, whom she had helped look for his belongings in the ashes of the camp.

coal

Bevis Fenner was concerned with work, its meaning and role in our society. He was painting coals white in a structured way for the duration of the week long Play Ground. A large clock was positioned on the wall above to ensure regular breaks and periods of work. He also organised a collaborative piece, matching images concerned with a variety of contemporary issues – some political and some of the popular culture. A thought provoking piece that I enjoyed taking part in.

This experience was very important for me. The performance developed in practise and both me and Ana gained a feel of how to guide visitors towards an experience we have imagined for them. In the same time open ended and interactive.

There was an opportunity to talk to a curator as a part of the Play Ground, this was particularly inspiring and significant for me. Some of these conversations, I have already started to develop. Sparked off by an idea to capture the smell of a freshly baked bread, I have started planning a performance. Obviously it is about bread and dough. I was planning to make a sculpture but I think that this concept is a lot better suited to a performance. It recreates the smell better! I have since come across some fantastic resources concerning bread, bread making and ritual. Nikos Chausidis is an anthropologist from the University in Skopje and his “The Mother of Bread” and “The Father of Bread” articles are incredible. He creates an unbroken link between the bread rituals surviving in the Balkans and the archaeological remains from the Neolithic in the same area. Using artefacts, analysing language and the psychology of the mythical images he creates new ways of looking. For me this is very inspiring and points towards a research valuable for me and connected to something that interests me as an artistic inquiry. The connection between art and ritual is very deep and old. It is part of our base. Ritual is an ancestor of art.

To create feelings and thoughts in the visitors minds without a figure is an exciting challenge and it is growing in my head like a seed.

Play Ground in John Hansard Gallery

Moths and Memory Weave

moth1
Pinned Moth – object

I was working on this moth. After a conversation with a friend Ana Cozendey this object became a starting point for an interactive project called Memory Weave. Ana has experience in organising creative workshops, so the memory theme grew into a memory exchange. Where the participants are encouraged to share their memories and weave an object – cocoon together. A throwing of a ball of wool is used to mark the participants turn to both symbolically and physically contribute towards the creation of the seed object.

There is a story attached to this object. It is a part of the piece -the object and the story together.

Moths and Memory Weave