« September 2005 | Main | November 2005 »

October 30, 2005

Trip to media caliphate

R: We took the kids to SoCal for their fall break. It was supposed to be vacation, but I can't ever really pull my head out of work enough to totally vacate. I found myself working in observational, comparative and critical mode.

We engaged in a series of "immersive" experiences while we were there, and I'm still trying to sort out what I saw. In short order, we went to the San Diego Zoo, Universal Studios, Legoland, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown San Diego. We also spent considerable amount of time immersed in I-5 traffic.

We saw a lot in a short amount of time:

and it made me think about immersion and interaction experiences, and play experiences. For instance: Legoland's new claw versus Universal's Back to the Future ride. I saw the former as participatory public theater versus the latter's closed controlled environments. Also, Back to the future made me nauseous with motion sickness. It must have been amazing when it first opened. Now it seems a bit lackluster. The robotic claw at Legoland still has the benefit of novelty. But it also allows the riders to be participants, selecting their level of agitation. The participatory aspect is amplified because the queue wraps around the claws (there are six robot arms) and so the participants too are performers for those who will soon reciprocate.

I'll add to this post as more thoughts sift out.

Posted by SWEAT at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2005

Fran Ilich at InSite05

I'm looking forward to Fran Ilich's contribution to InSite05, but he seems to be disappearing from the net even as I google him! I checked the link to his game, Beaner just a few days ago, and now it's gone! I read his bio not five minutes ago on another site, and now it's gone!

Check him out at InSite05's site while you still can.

Posted by SWEAT at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2005

Corridos at InSite05

Anne-Marie Schleiner and Luis Hernandez have collaborated on a project called Corridos commissioned by InSite'05 by curator Mark Tribe. Corridos is a game inspired by the Mexican "outlaw ballad" musical tradition. Professor Americo Paredes first brought this popular musical form to academic attention with his groundbreaking books, With A Pistol In His Hand, and A Texas-Mexican Cancionero.

While the historic corridos commemorated injustices, the contemporary ones glamorize drug trafficers. Both elevate outlaws to hero status, a trait shared with elements of gangsta' rap. The song forms accentuate inequities and insufficiencies in the rule of law and its application.

The game, Corridos, puts the player in the driver's seat of someone wishing to buy and sell drugs and smuggle them across the US-Mexico border at San Ysidro-Tijuana. The developers had precious little time to assemble the work, and so don't expect high levels of polish, but the gameplay allows an adventurous time.

Putting the player in the position of a drug merchant/smuggler does that complex critical thing that games and corridos (the ballad form) does. It elevates the "bad" guy (or gal) and draws attention to the screwed up situations that put her in a situation doing "bad" things.

Corridos (the game) is open-source, and was developed in the open-source and free environment called Blender, so there is an opportunity to contribute to and to extend the game. In this the game emulates that song form, which is itself an open and extensible architecture which accepts extemporaneous variation in song lyric with each performance, as well as the elevation of new (anti)heroes with each passing generation.

Corridos is a smart contribution to the growing canon of border games.
See also:
Ilich, Fran. Beaner
Miranda-Zúñiga, Ricardo. Vagamundo
OnRamp Arts. Tropical America

and of course, Crosser and La Migra, a product of SWEAT

Posted by SWEAT at 02:16 PM | Comments (2)

October 18, 2005

Rafael to speak at Mediateca in Barcelona

R: Laura Baigorri, Professor at the University of Barcelona, has invited me to speak at an intense day-long symposium there. I'll be presenting the products of SWEAT. Laura is a curator at the Mediateca, and she keeps a directory of new media artists and activists on her website, Transmisor. Her essay, "GAME as CRITIC as ART. 2.0" is available at Joystick.org This is supercool!

Posted by SWEAT at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2005

Artist Talk at the Museo, redux

R: Last night I gave a short artist talk at the Museo de las Americas. The audience response was fantastic. People want their children to meet me and it's starting to feel a little Pied Piperish. I'm presenting a model for expression that is attractive to parents. SWEAT is "safe", I guess.

I didn't hold back on any of my more political comments, so I guess my thoughts found resonance.

As soon as I get videotape I'll load it up on the "promotional stuff" part of the site.

Posted by SWEAT at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2005

Rafael to speak at Museo de las Americas

R: Nadín Ospina and I are going to lecture at the Museo de las Americas on Thursday October 13, 2005. The show starts at 6:00 pm, and the Honorable Mayor John Hickenlooper will be in attendance.

We have promised to speak for only a short while - thirty minutes each - but both Nadín and I have alot to say. For now we will play it by ear.

Please come by if you are in the neighborhood, I'd like to pack the house!

Posted by SWEAT at 12:27 PM | TrackBack


R: Two fragments of Juan & the Beanstalk have been included in an exhibit called Planet Colombia at the Museo de las Americas in Denver, Colorado! The show runs from October 7, 2005 to January 22, 2006.

The fragments, Seeds of Solitude and Fifa! Fo! Fum!, are set in a fictionalized Colombia.

I was given a fifteen second live promo spot on KBNO, the largest Spanish language radio broadcaster in the region.

The opening was tremendously exciting, with 400 people in attendance. The party went on till well past midnight with dancing to Salsa and Merengue.

The show attempts to overturn stereotypes in several ways. First: by exhibiting works that deploy irony and humor to treat life and realities in Colombia. Nadín Ospina's works included in the show make Lego mini-figs representative of the guerrillas and the poppies (poppies!) that inhabit NarColombiaLand. Gabriel Facundo takes amazingly beautiful portraits of street vendor's carts. The images are knowingly removed from their background to rachet up their hyper-reality and to make you look at these rolling retail operations. And SWEAT expresses a wish for a super-heroic Juan Valdez to make use of his super strength and make things better.

Second: The media in which strong art is presented. Ospina works across an array of media, presenting digital prints, works in stone and in ceramic. Anna Hoyos presents traditional painting of remarkable quality. Facundo presents his digitally manipulated photographs. And SWEAT presents the interactive videogame as a medium of expression.

Third: The Museo is itself re-forming itself. It is showing strong contemporary work by Latin-American artists of international caliber. It is adding this to its original identity as a cultural heritage museum with a focus on the past.

Posted by SWEAT at 09:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Everything Bad is Good For You

R: I'm trying to catch up on items that I've wanted to post. Now I have some breathing room to do that.

Steven Johnson has published every game designer's wet dream. In the first quarter of 2005 his book, entitled Everything Bad is Good For You, was released with a strong promotional push by his publisher. They included a generous excerpt in the New York Times (Sunday Magazine section I think).

He offers a book-length argument to help us all get over our handwringing about the contents of popular culture. The forms of popular culture, he contends, have been getting more complex. That complexity has been rewiring our brains in ways that our collective society has often found desireable and beneficial.

And so now all of that NSF and NEH money should go to people who make wonderfully complex media with substantive content. My undying gratitude to Mr. Johnson for his eloquent support!

The book at Amazon.com

Steven Johnson's site

Posted by SWEAT at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)


64 Marios!

Amazing! Check it out!

Geeks on Stun

Posted by SWEAT at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)