Team Mustache Assemble!

Team Mustache is an elite production squad dedicated to the liberal application of mirth and merriment in educational lecture video.  The team draws its name from the fake mustache worn by the performer or the spy in an attempt to hide their identity or to distract the viewer from their person, to redirect it to something else of interest.

I got to tour the studio today and am working on my very first pecha kucha on digital media.  I also have to assemble the team of lecturers who have no doubt flown to the four winds, but thankfully I have all of fall semester to record my 13(16) videos.

Right now the teleprompter is the scariest part of the mix with the threat of having to produce from a script I have a tendency to wonder if it will flow or if I will look like more of an ass than usual.

The studio is now full with spring cleaning, and is in fact the studio used for the colleges update news.

And of course there is a full on chroma keyed bluescreen, the possibilities are endless.

The next up is to do the pecha kucha, then think about the lecture afterwards (23:15) to fit into the 29:55 chunk that will be our cable access playground.

So the call goes out to team mustache!  And we needs to put on a hustle.


meeting tomorrow for public access

I am facing down a media meeting tomorrow where I have to program the media that I will be recording for public access.  The only difficult part is that I am relying on a giant group of other people to help with these.  The plan is of course to pay them, but as the possibility of production looms big I have to nail the issues.  Here is what I am looking at, and these will form a core for Art74 -the online edition:

1) What is DMA? New Media Art – Definition and Antecedents
2) Mashup
3) Conceptual Art
4) Collaboration / Participation / Open Source
5) Image, authenticity and authorship
5a) CC – licensing, IP and contemporary landscape
6) performance
7) Intervention / Culture Jamming (Thomas)
8) Identity
9) Telepresence and Surveillance
10) Hacking / Hactivism – Corporate Parody – Yes Men?
11) games (Ian Schreiber)
12) memes
13) medium as medium (web and games)
14) Objects – Shannon
15) Materials – Shannon
16) emergence

The goal is to have 13 air-able episodes.  I am aiming for a 6:40 Pecha Kucha at the beginning and a 23:20 follow-on.  My first challenge is getting the first one for DMA done starring yours truly.

(re)installing Windows (7)

I am working on a virtualbox image of windows 7 that includes gamemaker and pepakura trials for my art74 class for fall of 2010.

I am still struggling with DirectX which seems to work well in VMWare, but not in Virtual Box.

Sigh, this is a dealbreaker because without gamemaker the virtual machine just isn’t gonna cut it.  I keep researching but other issues are getting in the way.


Thinking about responses and games

The chance to go to a conference and talk with really smart people always has its fallout.  In talking with Ian he referred back to a presentation made by John Sharp, Michael Nitsche and Ian Bogost at the Art History of Games conference a while back.  I am using this article as a point of reference from this session and all quotes will come from it unless otherwise noted.

They refer to the art of games falling into three realms, visual, art of the world  and in game design or even player performance.  I understand the desire to dissect this because I have been having issues dealing with games that I think are simply fantastic and full of merit but are not themselves art.

In looking for work that we will show in Learn to Play, I am looking for something that challenges the medium and creates art through the strength of the formalistic fundamental quality of games … play.  That is I am not looking for a work of visual art, be it drawing, sculpture or otherwise, those can certainly function as art on their own and there is no need for a game in that case.  Most of what I see that fits the bill expresses itself through the interaction of the rules or through the function of play with the player.  That is to say that if you don’t play it you probably won’t get it.  Finally the experience is an aesthetic or meaningful one.

That is the same to me as saying that every 3d object in the world is not a work of sculpture, neither is every action a performance.  Every game is not a reflection of art, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Art is so contentious, and dealing with what is functionally a young new medium makes it more so.  Film took many years to evolve and find it’s voice, and to be recognized as a form of art (both photography and moving pictures).

Okay, this is rough and not very substantial, but it is a beginning.  If a game is art it is because the whole game is art, not because some of its assets are art, or beautiful. To say otherwise would be like saying the video of a walk-through of a museum is art because everything pictured is art.

Finally there is a game that is so simple and elegant (but not without its flaws) that I think we are going to have to pass on. The game “are you a werewolf” is a variant on mafia and is an exceedingly social game which relies on interaction between the people who play it.  However, even with the beautiful mechanism and the ability to bring people together it doesn’t hit the mark. Werewolf just is not art.

Duchamp may say otherwise, and when I was typing that I am just begging to be told that I am wrong. So there are a body of fantastic games that we just cannot include, by that standard there is also a body of art that we can’t include either because it is not a game.


Games Quest

I spent most of Saturday on a quest to find art and to find the smartest people in the dealers space, and though I am not certain I accomplished either, I did manage to have some good conversations.

I started with Don and John who were friends of Karl’s and though they were really nice and indulged my question they were not help except that someone at the table recommended Fred Hicks as a person worth talking to. My question was “who is the smartest person in the room?” And he was suggested as a candidate.

He and I talked for about 15 minutes in the middle of the dealers room, and he made a slew of suggestions. I bought 3 of them. Suitors, A Penny For My Thoughts, and Steal Away Jordan.

I haven’t had a chance to play these yet and frankly the last one makes me uncomfortable which is a good sign. I need to talk with my co-conspirators but I think it falls within our category though it may end up being a little controversial.

I played the LARP afterwards which was really bad. I won’t even say which one it was it was so bad.

Afterwards I managed to connect with Ian Schreiber. Where do I begin on this. I have known Ian more off than on for at least two years maybe more. We talked briefly about games as part of the educators program several years ago at Origins. The program is or was quite fascinating in that they use to let in educators for free and actually ran a seminar track. This year they charged half price and only had an unused lounge. I suspect that the difference had something to do with the turnover in staff months and weeks before the con. It really did feel a little unorganized.

Anyhow I picked Ian’s brain about a games module I plan to run in Intro to Digital Media, and he consented to do one of my 30 minute CC videos on intro to game design. I am starting to like the format more and more as I talk about it. The videos start with a 20×20 pecha kucha and then are followed by about 23 minutes of depth and explanation. I hope they will end up having multiple uses and value to educators and students alike.

We also spent some time talking about the games curatorial, and the game jams that he has been running. Frankly it sounds like he would be perfect to coordinate our game jam and I wish he were closer to San José. His head is totally in the right place… if we are going to reach our chosen demographic we need to get them to the jam.

I spent the last bit of time hanging out near the werewolf game. I am thinking that this social game which really is much more about relations and interrelations may have a place in the curatorial too, but can’t yet call it art.

All in all Origins has been very fertile, and I have quite a lot of followup to do, including a bunch before our next meeting on Monday.


Woke up in a panic. I am hearing voices, not all of which are human.

I woke up after dark on one of the longest days of the year and I cannot remember what happened to me to make me so tired.  Tired and completely worn out, the B&B I am staying at is turned upside down with activity.  I don’t remember all of these people when I checked in or during the day yesterday when I first settled in and started writing poetry.

There is definitely something going on here though as I hear so many voices even in my room.  These aren’t big voices, but little hungry ones.  I ache but I am headed downstairs even though I am neither hungry, weak, nor hung over from what I can’t remember.

I wasn’t drinking (I know what that feels like) and don’t feel hung over.  I actually feel pretty vital, but again there are the little voices…


Origins and Games Quests

The first day at Origins started late on many levels because of distractions. The previous night I ended up in a lengthy conversation, and then had to work before crashing keeping me up until 5am. We left after noon and got checked into the hotel around 2:30. The hotel is called the lofts and is part of the Crown Plaza. The low ratings on really focused on that fact and that many rooms look out on the parking garage. My room ended up being enormous.

After walking around for a few hours and trolling the dealers room I was getting more and more irritated that the wifi was $10 per day almost everywhere. Not only that but they were on 2 systems, one in the hotel, and one in the convention center. I determined that I would give my money to the place that would let me on the wifi and ended up with a black bean burger at max and erma’s. And a wifi code that is working in the crown plaza for the last 2 days.

I ended up online actually getting work done, drinking scotch and chatting up Thomas. Looks like Steam is having a sale so I am pushing to take a group of AV in to an MMO to play for a month or two. I don’t know where we will end up Star Trek Online is looking pretty good and I love the visuals of Champions Online (which probably wont be around much longer).

Then to play “are you a werewolf.” I ended up in an experimental game that lasted like 3 hours but eschewed the common mechanic of night. It became really interesting in that our Seer was quite active and ID’d many of us upfront. After catching one of the wolves he got killed but that left us with a group of 4 (we lied and called it 5) that formed a voting block. After some stumbling in the dark we caught the last wolf.