HSS8123 – Three ‘Found’ Poems

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Excerpts from my final degree show project

MMXV (Lenz v. Universal Music)
m
y my, jukebox ravager
fame, metrosexual envy
my label’s moxy even,
mum waxes verdant!

Supreme Ruler: Trump Rising
Supreme Ruler Ultimate – Version 9.0.70 Changelog:
• Leaders for Modern World updated
• New Facilities available: Trump Tower, Trump Wall
• ISIS and Kurdistan are now active regions
• Units without a valid region now eliminated on load
• Greater use of high volatility settings
• Clear out product display data when a region dies
• Tactical nukes will now auto fire
These changes apply to all players regardless of whether they add the new Trump Rising DLC Content.

Derek Savage vs. I Hate Everything/Your Movie Sucks
Eager rage nerds grade adverse ads.
Dad Derek sees red, seeks erasage.
Dark saga ravages geeks, greed agrees.
Nerd evade adverse drek.
Derek deserves served.

 

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HSS8123 – 20 Things I’ve Stolen, by David Weinberger

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  • I took an extra napkin from a Taco Bell for unspecified use “later.”
  • I sat on a bench on a hot day, enjoying the breeze as the man next to me fanned himself.
  • I read the headlines of a newspaper that was for sale in a kiosk box.
  • I divided a single-serving DingDong in two, and had it for dessert on two consecutive days.
  • I listened all the way through to a Metallica song emanating from my neighbor’s radio, but closed my window when the commercial came on.
  • I remembered the movie times in my newspaper from the day before so I wouldn’t have to buy a copy of the paper today.
  • When a friend’s cat chose my lap to sit in, I petted it, precisely to discourage it from moving to the lap of its rightful owner.
  • I said “What a long, strange trip it’s been” without air quotes.
  • On the Amtrak “quiet car,” I listened to a man in the seat ahead of me explaining to the bored woman next to him how he gets such a great shine on his shoes. I have since used his technique, successfully.
  • I have stared carefully at reproductions of great paintings.
  • I asked for and received a “tasting spoon” of mint pistachio ice cream, anticipating, correctly, that I would not like it.
  • I smelled the aromatherapy candles in an aisle in the Stop ‘n’ Shop.
  • Frequently have I browsed stores with absolutely no intent to purchase. On some such occasions, I have felt fabrics I did not intend to buy.
  • I placed a bag on the seat next to me on the subway.
  • I continued to wear in public running shoes after the Nike “swoosh” wore off.
  • In a Italian restaurant, I entered their “win a free lunch” contest by putting into the jar a business card from a job I had recently left, with my new phone number written in by hand.
  • I have retold the joke about the man who meets a pirate in a bar without ever once explicitly acknowledging that I was not its author.
  • I gazed with lust at another man’s bikini-clad wife.
  • I deeply inhaled the smell of popcorn in a movie theater, but I did not buy any.
  • One late summer evening, I purposefully and with intent committed to memory the purple of the clouds. That I still remember the edge of the chill was unpremeditated, however.

Poem stolen from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-weinberger/20-things-ive-stolen_b_116817.html

 

HSS8123 – It’s degree show season!

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Times are changing. I have a cool copywriting job, and my artsy postgrad is coming to an end (in that order, which is slightly inconvenient). I’m enjoying both, but it’ll be nice to not be multitasking quite so much.

Normally I would be posting about this on the course blog, but whaddya know, its been hacked (apparently by a Chinese viagra company, but I’m not sure I believe that rumour). So there will be a lot of lengthy blog posts happening here instead for the time being. Any posts marked with HSS8123 are related to my final degree show.

There’ll be a mix of stuff: some image dumps, some reflective posts, some sharing of relevant things I’ve stumbled across, and bits of content from the final show. If any of that sounds like your cup of tea, stay tuned, or check out the event page. For now, enjoy some silly teasers I put together while procrastinating the actual hard-work parts of the project:

 

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HSS8123 – Kanto Centos

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A cento is a poetical work composed of verses or passages taken from other authors
Wikipedia – Cento (poetry)

No matter what their specialties or aims, there is one code that they all follow—when two Trainers make eye contact, they must have a battle
Bulbapedia – Pokémon Trainer

 

Seafoam Islands
Hey, wait up! What’s the hurry?
You looked at me, didn’t you?
I never saw you at the party.
That glance… It’s intriguing.
What do you want? Why are you here?
Are you on vacation too?
I was getting bored.
Have you ever gone swimming in the sea at night?

The Fighting Dojo
We martial artists fear nothing!
I haven’t seen you around before. So you think you are pretty tough?
Nothing tough frightens me! I break boulders for training!
Hey there! I’ll take you on!
I’m going to take you down! Prepare to be shocked!
My chance of losing? Not even one percent!
Huh? Who? What?
That can’t be!

Silph Co. Office Building
You! How dare you enter uninvited?
It’s off limits here! Go home!
Our invisible walls have you frustrated?
Stumped by our invisible floor?
Does our unseen power scare you?
Why did you come here?
I don’t care if you’re lost.
Only the chosen can pass here!

Mt. Moon
What’s beyond the horizon?
Did you come to explore too?
What’s most important in everyday lives?
Ahh! Feel the sun and the wind!
The sea cleanses my body and soul!
Isn’t it relaxing just floating like this?

Ssh! My brain is picking up radio signals!

 

Seven Stories & the Late Shows!

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Finally found a good time to write about what could be the most exciting opportunity Creative Arts Practice has thrown my way – getting commissioned by Seven Stories National Centre for Children’s Books! The whole cohort was invited to send proposals for Seven Stories’ night at the Late Shows, and mine was one of the ones that got accepted!

I’m putting together a programme of pop-up performances throughout the evening, which will be Friday the 19th of May. They’ll be many talented poets and musicians spread throughout the building, spinning stories in one form or another. I might even get to do a set myself, if I’m not run off my feet. If you’re in Newcastle or that neck of the woods, come down the Ouseburn Valley and check it out! The whole city will be full of cultural events and people wandering around with beer and/or glowsticks.

Late-Shows-2016

No doubt I’ll be plugging this more actively at the week progresses. Keep an eye out for updates on specific performers as well – I’m really exciting about some of the people I’ve managed to get on-board.

For those interested in finding out how this came about, along with other Creative Arts Practice things I’ve been up to this year, check out my course blog (it’ll be up there once various technical difficulties are resolved).

CAP Catchup

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It’s been a while, eh? But I’ve not been idle. Creative Arts Practice has been keeping me good and busy, with some interesting results. You can find my course blog here. More importantly, though, you should take a look at what some of the other students have been up to here – there’s lots to see in terms of music, art, film and other interesting stuff I couldn’t begin to do justice to here.

For now, here are some pictures from various CAP-related workshops and adventures (including our trip to Transmediale in Berlin!), plus sundry other bits and bobs. Enjoy!

 

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Maps Maps Maps

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I’ve had a bit of an obsession with maps lately or, more specifically, video game maps. You can blame Creative Arts Practice for this, making me analyse my interests and consider ways to make my work more multimedia and stuff. How dare it.

Anyway, I’ve always liked them. Especially the maps in Final Fantasy XII, for some reason. There was something about the way they looked and the way every part of the area had its own specific name that helped give every part of the place a specific flavour. Inevitably the names were things like ‘Halls of Ardent Darkness’ and ‘Demesne of the Sand Queen’, but that kind of thing sounds kickass to a certain kind of teenager.

FF12_Map_-_Nabreus_Deadlands.png

See? I’m not making this stuff up.

Young writers always get told to ‘write what you like’, and I like to think that imitating my favourite authors got me started down that particular track pretty successfully. But as a teenager playing Zelda, Final Fantasy and Castlevania and liking those, I couldn’t very well apply the same advice quite so literally. Me and high-school IT class did not get on, and even if we had done, I was a teenager, not a fully-equipped games studio.

So, for lack of resources, I drew maps. Don’t have the capacity to create and render a fully-functioning Zelda dungeon on a rainy Sunday afternoon? Well, just draw a map of it. Draw little ‘key’ symbols to show how you’re supposed to unlock the doors. Draw dotted lines so you can tell where the moving platforms are supposed to go. That kind of thing. It doesn’t look nearly as cool as playing the level would feel, but you can use your imagination to fill in that gaps. That’s how maps work.

FF12_Map_-_Ozmone_Plain.png

What was the plot of this game again? I’d honestly rather know why ‘Field of Fallen Wings’ is called that.

Towards the point – maps have come up a fair bit as part of Creative Arts Practice so far. We spent a whole seminar looking at Google Maps and Google Street View, the way they make you think about and navigate places in a certain way. And, being a hopeless nerd, this got me thinking about video game levels and their maps again. Barheim Passage from Final Fantasy XII. Dracula’s Castle from Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. Blighttown from Dark Souls. Luigi’s Mansion. Even the procedurally generated levels from Darkest Dungeon.

darkest-dungeon

Sure, this one isn’t quite so cool to look at. But when your party’s food and sanity is dwindling with every step and the next room could contain a horrifying boss monster accompanied by appropriately epic narration and backing music, suddenly you’re paying damn close attention to this thing.

The thing that struck me wasn’t really the maps themselves. Sure, sometimes in-game maps can be pretty. Mostly they’re functional – they help you visualise a space that is already harder than a real place to visualise because it doesn’t really exist at all, its fictional place represented in a game and isn’t any less fictional than the map that goes with it. They’re tools, part of the interface just like health meters, action bars and menus. So why did looking at them bring me right back into the feeling of playing those games? The gameplay, the enemies, the music – it was all vivid again. Why?

It might be a fairly specific kind of nerdy interest. I’ve always loved me a good video game dungeon. I’m also one of those incorrigible nerds who engages in tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons (heaven help me) and drawing maps of made-up places was always one of my favourite parts of running a campaign. Probably most people don’t find these maps all that interesting, or at least save that kind of interest for maps of places they can relate to (real or otherwise). But still, I think I’m onto something here.

dav
I think it has something to do with the way they bring things together. Precisely the fact that you use them to figure out where you are and where you’re going seems to bind them in your head with your experience of navigating the place, sometimes in ways you might not expect. That’s what the confusingly laid-out and probably illegible collage-thing you just scrolled past is about. I made it in the Culture Lab as an attempt to map onto the level all the things I liked and remembered about it.

All this might seem a weird interest for someone who writes rather than draws, paints or does anything all that visual. But ultimately I think it feeds into something I’ve always had a strong interest in as a fan of fantasy (and sci-fi, and horror): world building. A certain kind of story is as much about the setting itself as it is about the people in it and the stuff that they do. Just think how popular maps of Middle Earth, Discworld and Westeros are with fantasy fans.

middle-earth-map.jpg

I’m sure a lot of people recognise this one.

But Lewis, you say, maps of Middle Earth aren’t what made LotR awesome. That’s true. And it was the music, the level and enemy design, the lore and the gameplay of those games that made their levels the experiences that they were. It wasn’t the maps. Those things aren’t even necessarily represented that well on the maps, some not at all (like music). But still, I think I’m onto something here.

Creative Arts Practice has given me a lot of food for thought regarding the different ways ideas can be represented, and the different media we can use to express them. Wouldn’t it be a kind of cool gallery exhibition that tried to capture a video game level or just a place by combining a map with all those different kinds of media? What if you were looking at the map of a level while listening to its soundtrack? That’s kind of what the idea is with these poorly-photographed collages – a first attempt at bundling some of those things together.

Its at this point that my thinking is much less collected. I have a few ideas of where I want to go with this little pet project of mine, if anywhere. One thing that has my interest is the multimedia nature of these associations.

I also think there’s good potential here for picking apart the way world-building works in games, even the tried-and-tested ‘I wonder what awful shit went down in this dungeon’ kind. Sometimes you it helps to know why this mansion’s full of the living dead, you know? (speaking of which, Extra Credit made a really cool great series of short videos about exactly that kind of world-building and level design in Baldur’s Gate).

baldurs-gate-durlaggs-tower

It may not look like much, but it turns out this area is a classic case study of good storytelling & gameplay through level design.

Finally, I’m curious about the way the way maps in video games and real maps relate, and the way we think about them. What would maps of our daily commutes and favourite places look like if we navigated them in the same way as games? I don’t know how well it would work out, but I would quite like to try a mash-up of the some of my favourite real and video game locations, or a ‘gamified’ map of my daily commute.

And… maybe I’ve just got games on the brain, but there are a wealth of associations between games and the world around us. I definitely use coffee shops the way I use save points, and the entrance to Victoria Tunnel near the Hancock Museum definitely looks like a secret dungeon entrance to me. Thoughts?

victoria-tunnel

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Image sources: Final Fantasy XII, Darkest Dungeon, Lord of the Rings, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow and Baldur’s Gate.