Writing Blurbs

entARTeinment: a GAME of art

’lasciate ogni speranza voi che entrate….’

(Dante, Inferno, verse 1)

abandon hope to enter a standard read

abandon  hope to read a collection of other’s thoughts 

abandon hope to a western academic piece of writing

be open to ideas instead

be open to courage and unorthodox behaviours

be open to a writing style that is part of the argument

be open to play.

Because there is no way i can explain to you about my idea on play, seriously, without being… playful.


Art is not

Art is not activism, art is not political action, art is not education.

Art disrupt and resists the comfortable the stiflingly familiar and the status quo....

Alana Jelinek (Jelinek, 2013, 3)

Art is not. art is not work; art is not production, art is not value. art lies in the freedom to express. and that encompasses the freedom to play as well. 

Playfulness and Humour are, for my practice and for what i see as freedom, a fundamental part of art, playfulness being a means to face one’s own failures to grow and better understand our human condition. 

Clowning and Playfulness and Mischief are a substantial part of my philosophy of being and i do use them a lot in the way i deliver my art. they allow for democratic, accessible, impromptu, improvised, in the moment, non-judgemental actions and reactions. i couldn’t face the world the way i do if i didn’t have those elements as my constant companions. 

And if one looks at the institutional art world… it is a pseudo-game, with less honesty and transparency then clowning or mischief but … it is a game. unfortunately, a game that has been transformed slowly into a money contest, where the players are not playing a game anymore, where there are no set rules anymore, where the art business are making money out of their game assets, us, the artists.

Why Game so and what game: it is about “democratic” relations, accessibility, working on our failures, on the happy accidents and on participation and relations.

I find myself always going back to game structures or methodologies   in my pieces. by game structures i mean for example, a basic script of actions, cause and effect triggered by player’s choices, game start and game end, clear rules, interaction, free accessibility and immediate satisfactions …

So that is, really, the first point: i use game as a tool that becomes also an intrinsic part of each piece. the second most fundamental point is, the game i talk about is what i like to call the pure game, the primordial game, that game methodology and system that requires absolute disregard for any other reason that is not just to play for ‘fun’ or shall we better say, the sake of it. 

And i will try and demonstrate though both critical and practice base academic methodology that there is a very good reason for that: without playfulness and fun as only conscious objective of playing the game, we lose the purity and beauty of games, we descend into a contaminated ‘game place’ that has only the word game in it but is not a game anymore. so when i refer to the ‘corrupted game’ of institutionalised art or the art world per-se, that is exactly to make the point: it is not a real game; we call it game because we have this need to rationalise something that is completely arbitrary but what we are missing is that if it really were a game, anyone could participate, the rules wouldn’t be property of an elite only and there wouldn’t be any pecunia in it for sure. 

This piece of writing is not about commenting on something that someone else has already established; it is about bringing forward an idea, in  an experimental way as well as an orthodox way; the mixing of the elements, the way this piece is written, the ‘personalised-case’, the main body and footnotes symbiotic relation, they are all part of the argument. as well as the actual… argument, of course.

My aim is not only to make sense of the core concerns of Play and Game as a pre-cultural, pure, non-antropomorphic, primordial, irrational … thing that exists with or without us – as per Huiziga clearest contemporary theory in Homo Ludens (2003)- but also to show that all of the central postulates around play and game actually legitimise and makes a run for a theory of art that needs an element of game and play to be true to itself. 

And, furthermore, that this does not undermine the serious element in  art (and play) but rather supports it as most serious pursuits exhibit  (or at least should) playful aspects. 

Hector Rodriguez confidently and clearly explains, 

the boundary between the playful and the serious is certainly real and widely applied, but not sharply defined everywhere, and always subject to revision. In some cases, the borderline cannot be marked at all. Moreover, ethical questions about civility and fairness are often intimately connected with the act of playing (…) many forms of serious culture originated from ludic actions. Playfulness lies at the origin of art, religion, politics, philosophy, and the law. It is misleading to view these institutions in purely functional terms, as vehicles for the transmission of social values or the reproduction of societal cohesion. Social action is partly motivated by a desire for intense experiences of risk, uncertainty, surpassing oneself, overcoming a challenge, etc. These regions of social life cut across the distinction between the playful and the serious”. (Rodriguez, 2006) 

And then he (Rodriguez, 2006) proceeds explaining that a careful understanding of the classic meaning of Play and Game clarifies the fundamental aims and purposes of serious game and also highlights the close connection between Primordial Game/playfulness and key developments in art.


no human affair is worth taking very seriously’ 

Plato, Rep. x, 604

For Plato philosophy is either a joyful game or it is less than nothing, for Kierkegaard, humour is the incognito pdf life that enables us to pass through the world without succumbing to the prevailing mood of alternating agitation and hopelessness (Ardley, 1967, 226).

And for Huizinga, game is not a cultural phenomenon, it comes before culture, before humanity, before the antrophocene epoch, it belongs to nature, to living of any being, to a primordial essence of being alive (Huizinga, 2003, 3).

In my practice i always feel the need to relate to others through a playful relation; game is necessary for me to lift my pieces and my arguments from the low human ground up to a higher angle of vision, as if i take a step back from my human nature, dissociate from it, create a confined space, with specific rules where whoever is interested can come in, to play with me, the objective of it all being to play with discoveries and reflections, to laugh at our failures and look at the 

future and how to make things better with a true pure-felt , genuine smile. game and play and fun allow me to detach from this context, this society, look at things from a ‘primordial perspective, not linked to culture, not linked to time, not linked to the anthropocene view of the world only. 

Now, if one starts reading around – i did- about game, play, fun in its original state, before culture is applied to it, there are very few writings and most of them feel to me they are constrained by the language we use and the human development we have achieved. so when Caillois argues that Huizinga is wrong in saying all games have rules, because some games like betting ones are arbitrary… well he is already stepping on the ‘anthropocentric’ view of games, and is approaching it in a kind of technically-rational way: betting is based on chance, therefore game of chance have no rules. but, Caillois, step out of this box: the arbitrary chance IS the rule of the game! 

and so the freedom of what rules to apply, as sensible or arbitrary as they might be, in a contained space (be it physical 

or not), for a contained period and without any other playful reason then… playing for fun.

It is only when we go back to earlier civilisations that we find descriptions and uses of game and play in its more primordial and purist form. the problem with studying game, analysing it, making it ‘useful’ is that, at that very moment, game ceases to exist and transforms into another animal, what i call, the anthropo-shame (pardon the joke). when reason and system and structure from an outside eye is applied to fun, that ceases to be fun for the sake of it, it becomes a second agenda thing. if we are lucky it becomes a second agenda ‘fun-thing’ but, most of the times, it becomes a second agenda ‘profit-thing’ disguised as serious game (what a total contradiction in terms). remember the beauty of play lies in its freedom, arbitrarity of rules, separateness from reality, a se-stante property as i would say in Italian (lat.: per se), and in its fun. one can deny nearly every abstraction, from justice to truth to beauty to god to … but not play.

Play is irrational, is not attached to our human logic, we play and we play through our mind, so play is a mindful thing, but animals play, so it is a mind thing but it is irrational… 

therefore we are irrational beings (as well as rational, the two can actually coexist, i believe)

A stepping stone of my theory is the realisation that culture is not just development, it is also de-development, de-evolution in the sense that it brings layer and layers of human, anthropomorphised approach to the world and these layers take us further and further away from understanding basic concepts and realities of us as being part of something much bigger.

So when i go back to the ‘classics’ , i read about Socrate, Plato, Aristotele and before them.

Knowledge is agonistic and polemic/provoking by nature. but in the words of G. Ardley, 

…what emerges from the agon depends on the spirit in which it is conducted. (Ardley, 1967, 227) 

Inner serenity and self sufficiency of disposition are the vocational push of genuine curiosity and purity of knowledge. 

As Ardley puts it very clearly while paraphrasing Aristotele’s magnificent insight into morality, philosophy and knowledge:

Flanking the eutrapelos is, on one side, the agroikos, the rustic, the boor, who is too stiff and serious to be a philosopher. On the other side is the bomolochos, the buffoon, who is too frivolous, fawning and random to be a philosopher. The eutrapelos is on the high mean between the two flanking vices: Thus: 




Most of us succeed only in oscillating between agroikia and bomo- lochia, and miss the verticality which leads up to the disposition of eutrapelia. (Ardley, 1967, 229) 

Yes, you are right, knowledgable and careful reader: Gavin (Ardley) is talking about knowledge, not art,  but i am not just paraphrasing, i am borrowing Ardley’s structure of thought here. so when i talk about games and playfulness, i only and strictly refer to this kind of vocation, this kind of conscious playful approach to art, underpinned by the awareness of our ephemeral, temporary and limited capacities and the wonder of all the rest we cannot understand but we want to experiment and try and understand.

It is conscious playfulness in the sense that i – like Aristotle or Plato or Locke or d’Aquino or Huizinga – have this imprinted truth in me that without playfulness, whatever I land to, is impure and limited because too much linked to only my brain and my capacities, which are limited as human. 

The light- heartedness and the joyful feel that come with playfulness bring me back to a primordial state of purity. they are like a rope that lifts me from the ground to the spiritual. 

Playfulness is also an incredible weapon against fear, the fear that we have been imprinted with by rigged socio-economic systems. and if playfulness overtakes fear, and if this fear is not justified but only fed by a ‘system of fear’ to keep us valuable and malleable, then playfulness is the one thing we should hold dearly because it is the one thing that can raise our eyes to above the clouds, above the system, out of our gird and contraction and box. to see wider, to see

oltre ‘la siepe Che il guardo esclude’

– Giacomo Leopardi, L’infinito –

Playfulness and Game in my practice

when i make a piece, any piece, it’s as if i had a goblin (a different goblin for every piece) coming to surface to ‘enact’ the piece as a game, with its own rules, its own players (anyone who wants to play and accept the rules of the game), its own theme, that stays true to itself only and a scope that lies only in the feeling of joy in expressing, through crafts and ideas, some self-reflection learnings.

Differently from what Caillois writes in his ‘Man, Play and Games’, for whom a characteristic of play is that it creates no goods or wealth and therefore differs from work and art (Caillois, 2001, 5) a characteristic of art for me is that it is playful and creates no goods or wealth, therefore being incredibly similar to games. Not only, but it is exactly this characteristic of not creating goods or wealth that makes art true to itself, that brings it back to its purest form, like play and game.

For any piece that i make, i have never thought about its money-value, i don’t think money can be a currency for art, not a true one, at least. i have never thought about my pieces productivity-value either and i strongly believe productivity as well not to be a currency for art.

Furthermore, though, none of my pieces are made for an ’afterthought’, for an additional reason, agenda, purpose then the creation of the piece itself. in that lies the fundamental truth for me about artistic practice. 

Sometimes, like when i created the piece for the RAF museum, it is difficult to let all possible other agendas behind but it is the most important step for the artefact to be a creation of free expression. in that only we find purity .

And as the greeks would say, have a hope to raise enough to talk to the gods. 

So my RAF piece, for which the brief was ‘a celebration of the battle of ….’, i ended up creating a shadow-puppets installation where the audience (and at the Raf there are a lot of kids!) could touch, interact and, literally, play with it. 

it’s entitled ‘Messengers’:

The greeks used to believe music to be the highest form of art as it was, like play and game, completely independent from reality and man as such. then comes dance, poetry and plastic arts (those arts that are dependent on the material). now, understanding the spirit of this – rather than just the letter – is understanding that the fact that plastic art were at the bottom of the list is because they were arts that really depended upon the material and therefore couldn’t be as ‘spontaneous’ and ‘apart from reality’ as other forms of art like music or poetry. 

But we need to also remember that at that time the ‘materials’ were literally just stones and colours (sculpting and painting). nowadays art is not dependent always on the material, especially if, for someone like me, the material is just any vehicle at my disposal to express something: it becomes an interchangeable, spontaneous tool. it is not specifically chosen; it is not defining of the piece from the beginning. it is, instead, an organic element, integral part of my ‘rules of the artefact game’. as if The Artist in me was whispering: let’s play a game… this material, here, at your disposal, now, free,  is what you have to express that interesting idea of yours and to start a conversation. so the piece is created. and then, of course, the piece itself becomes a game where the audience are players, if they choose to. because that is another incredibly important element of play: it is voluntary and the rules are ‘clear’. 

Even in performing i stand by this credo. for example my piece in collaboration with Venice, NewSkin (Vimeo, 2020), came out of an impromptu situation: Venice needed a model for her silicon torso and i wanted to just live this space and reborn. so we put the two together and she modelled her silicon torso on me and then literally de-skinned me. All endurance performance was filmed and is definitely non repeatable soon!

In NON-binary BINARY, a solo performance art piece, i used the metaphors of shaving my own hair  to talk and provoke on themes of gender, identity and society. i could have done many different things but the use of my hair grew organically out of the realisation of deep meaningful personal memories, cultural meanings and iconography i could play with. The fear and sadness of a forced cathartic moment were smoothened out by playfulness and therefore raised the whole piece to a high level of understanding and growth for me.   

Interestingly, the above piece, born and executed as a solo piece, is one of the very few solo pieces i have ever performed. i realised then, while performing it, how important games are in the actual development and creation of my practice. because i didn’t have any ‘companion’ to play with while shaving my head, i played with all the fools inside of me, which would come out clearly through the transformation of my aesthetics, my hair and face make up. that though, when i am alone, is sometimes not enough, to keep me lifted with this sense of ‘freedom of creation’; so, to give a  playful support to all my already playful goblins,  i added the element of music. specifically, i attached a series of lyrics from the menopause army band (L.Childs 2020), spoken out loud by me and placed consciously on specific moments, to elevate the otherwise far too serious and high-browed structure behind the artefact, to an actual piece of accessible conversation with the audience. 

I often use music, specifically sound and dance, as other devices or tools to play with. i love creating soundscapes because that is to me like playing with Ms.SOUND, the ‘other’ player, a game that is completely outside of this reality, completely meaningful in itself and just to itself, that can be completely free. 

And that sound, that complexity that is detached from reality in the sense that the Greeks used to look at music, the purest form of art… its airy medium, its magical frequencies, its neuropathological power to our brain, makes it incredibly versatile and pure. 

Allow me to borrow Shaeffer’s sentiment,and, …comms quelque chose de toalment inutile, (Shaeffer, 43 as per pdf from Dack, J. 2021), circuit bending is another example of how anything can be sound and music structured when driven by playfulness. although much earlier, in the 70’s, NoiZ music (which i believe started in Italy) is of the same spirit and on the same track, the underpinning primordial focus of noise composers being to satisfy the need to to play with sound. 

Below is an example of what i mean by that; how i play with sound: soundscape from Performance and Installation Piece Would You (collaboration with Polly Murphy) 

In the attached soundscape i played with sounds recorded from the garden, from my washing machine, from the cats, mixed with sci-fi sounds and SFX that i asked my friends to try and reproduce themselves, like, for example, the pig shouting. 

I feel even freer when i can produce and perform a piece in which i am part of the medium to the sounds and visuals. like in the below piece – Synthespian, a digital puppetry performance piece in collaboration with Lucy Childs (Vimeo, 2019).

The combination of playfulness in action, in movement and in interaction with sound seem to exponentially multiply the freedom i am in, in that moment.  

The time has come. 

The time has come for me to share with you my elephant in the room: i worked for more then 15 year in advertising and creative direction and, although i left if with fury and anger and disappointment, i learnt something very useful there: to produce great campaigns you need a certain chemistry, alchemy between the creative team and the client and amongst creatives themselves and the only way to ‘force’ that, to control the production of that element is through playfulness. 

Why? because it strips everything off that is the heavy weight of the market and the brief and the numbers, and is only it, the fun of the creation of an idea.

A vocational intrinsic playfulness allows us not to fall into the mistake of fatuous statements and unrealistic solemnities of our otherwise limited ratio. 

‘Fecundity, genuine seriousness, real understanding, are to be found only in aerial flights of play’ (G. Ardley, 1967, 2)

Through mischief, illusion, games and irony my work and i  process the failures and contradictions that we are the only masters of, to gain understanding and elevate us to better creatures in respect (for real) to the incredible universe we are part of. seriousness without a fundamental, primordial element of play, would not be genuine, because it would answer to what i call RA – rationalised-aRTgenda- whatever it -or they- might be. A RA is intrinsically not anymore ‘for the sake of itself’, the piece, art. and, therefore, not anymore free, per-se, un-obeying the laws of money or any other ulterior motive, only joyful and primordial.  

The physicality, in-the-now, the non-existence of a ‘go-back’ button are characteristics of performance art, of live art; and a fundamental reason of my use of an element of performance pretty much in all my pieces. the ‘enjoyed’ self-coercion to improvisation, to use-what-at-disposal-4free production, to interaction, to potential failures, are all driven by an instinctive playfulness that once rationalised is what allows me to really assure free-ness and purity of art in my practice. 

And what, by no exception, i project into what is the world of Art.


when we refer to Game, in the ‘business’ sense, when we say ‘you have to play the game’ of the art world or of the system or whatever, we are just incurring in an incredible misuse of words: those are not games, the rules are not clear, not everyone can play, its certainly not free and fun and most importantly… it creates goods and wealth: that is the opposite of a game.  

This is the main paradox and contradiction of what our art world – with small a – which is only 1% of art (Sholette, 4)is trying to imprint on us, forcefully and patriarchally, through capitalism: art is freedom of expression, it lives per-se, anyone can make art, its sole scope is to express and connect. but, the visible 1% art world is, by paradox, a massive wealth and money machine that is continuously tricking us into forcefully being part of it, to be recognised by it; it’s a dirty game, non-genuine, hypocritical game; a game the machine has put together, a game where the rules are not made by the players but by the judges and… a game that needs to satisfy mainly the needs of the machine, a machine that has multiple agendas! Just collaterally, as a tool, it contains art… how is that???? and how is it that Art  – this time with a capital A, the genuine, pure, respectful, worth Art…. hasn’t called for mutiny on the art world yet? 

I call for the abolition of work (Black, 2009, 1) in Art! where is the Bob Black of the art world? is it me? 

Marinetti came up with a great manifesto (Marinetti, 1909), he and the futurists really dug into the spirit of art rather than its letter. i have borrowed and revisited the Futurist manifesto to try and express my point in the same clarity and with the same force as them.  

The dadaist, the avant-gard, the post avant-gard and situationists were following up on those steps. i love their sense of fight and mischief, provocation, debunk, playfulness and …purity. 

Even Schiller tried, poor guy, he tried so hard to communicate the spirit of the art and was put down by philosophers and academics of that time – and of now! – for not being philosophical and consistent enough within his arguments (Schiller, 14). i myself found him sometimes simplistic in his sophisms and process of thought but the spirit he conveys , that is what i loved and understood of him, “for art is a daughter of freedom and must receive her commission from the needs of spirits, not from the exigency of matter” (Schiller, 26). his purity is in his intentions, like the purity of art and artists. he sees (of course, influenced by Kant) a duality, between reason and nature. the real insight lies in when, talking about Reason, Schiller refers to “his personality’ (Schiller, 1994, 29): Reason, or our brain or logic or human intellect, however you want to call it, is just one part of us (being it dual or multiple parts that we are formed of). if we abandon ourselves to reason and reason only, we lose touch with the ‘gods of nature’.  and once we lose that purity of intention, we are just commodity producers, workers, in a conveyor belt that we do not even see. 

That is the saddest thing. 

We stand up high as artists, stubborn of poshness and culture and high-eyebrows thinking and meaning… but we don’t realise … who are we kidding!? how dare we pointing at some inconsistencies in a train of thoughts when the aim of that train of thoughts is not to show consistency or claim a truth but to put light on a path, to explore, understand and better develop that path? how dare we seeking for (and telling off), asking for rational perfection when the only true is that there is no perfection we can achieve. but we can understand how to get nearer and nearer to it. 

How can we still be so hypocritical and petty and small to just look and complain about little, shallow, men-made things like consistency, language, precision, progression of thoughts, technical rationalism (Schoen, 1983), academism (Varto, 1983), scientific proofs…. when we know, we know that what really matters and what really pushes things forward is only the purity of curiosity, understanding and freedom of growth. 

why can we not stop being so shallow in our seriousness and become a bit more serious about our playfulness?!

why can we not finally act on what we already know being true: we are here to following the spirit rather then the letter of our creations. it is the spirit of art, it is the spirit of playing a game, it is the spirit of the law etc. what matters. Isn’t it? 

when i look at artist i know, its always their rebellious spirit, their playfulness, their taking the Mickey openly that lures me. the material or execution is just a vehicle of that.

As if, like for what i find in my practice to be true, game and playfulness were a way to deliver a message. 

And performance is a very direct way to involve playfulness so that art become the confronter of the beholders, in a way that, in Laurie Carlos words, is untameable and unmarketable (Goldberg, 2004, 30) and ‘we are kinetic collaborators in the construction of ideas’ (Goldberg, 2004, 12). when to that you add play, the construction of ideas is for others to take and develop and the world surrounding that art piece becomes instantly accessible to all and transformable by all.

The state of flux and constant ‘movement’ of a playful piece, being it performative or not, leave it open bot to all and to itself, allowing it to be a unity, a meaningful essence that exists in the out-of-reality game box and for its sake only (Goldberg, 2004, 10).

My experience as a clown has allowed me to break the barriers of seriousness and use failure to learn with a smile, with laughter. clowning is a philosophy of life (Davison, 2015), is a way to look at the world not being scared of failing but rather using those failures to grow without feeling suicidal.   

The seriousness and meaningfulness of the art world is what is dooming art from its purity. these concept are misunderstood, and transformed, and misappropriated, and misused, in our civilised society, for the intrinsic reason of being it a society. although real civilisation cannot exists in the absence of a certain play-element, like the art world cannot exist in the absence of a certain play element, civilisation – and in my argument, art – presupposes limitation and mastery of the self (Huiziga, 2003) – in my argument, the artwork. and, in the words of Huizinga, ‘to be a sound culture-creating force, this play element must be pure. it must not consist in the darkening or debasing of standards set up by reason, faith or humanity. 

 ‘true play knows no propaganda, its aim is in itself, and its familiar spirit is happy inspiration’ (Huizinga, 2003, 211)

and i shall add to this my take on art, which shall be the same: to be pure it must not consist in the darkening  or design of standards set up by reason, faith or money. 

True art knows no propaganda, its aim is in itself, and its familiar sprit is playful inspiration 

And to those confronting with the dilemma of serious art and playfulness, please rest assured that there is no bewildering antithesis between play and seriousness, thus we can play seriously and we can play being serious too… but still playing.

The reality is that the play element in culture has been less and less present and worshipped and more and more put on the side and disregarded since the 18th century. not only from the joy of the aesthetics of the french revolution and romanticism that were having to act as a substitution for religion, we fell into the trap of art-worship and connoisseurship remaining only a thing and a privilege of the few; even worse, towards the end of the 19th century the appreciation of art, thanks mainly to the spread of photography, reached the broad mass with a strange deviation: the idea of the artist as a superior species became accepted by the mass and ‘the public at large is washed by the mighty waves of snobbery’ (Huizinga, 2003, 202).

And that is the failure of the art world, and nobody else but the art world, that engine, that machine that has formed around artists, around people who make artefacts, a whole world of critics, connoisseurs, investors, philanthropists of all kinds, academics, influencers and scientists who are actually producing nothing of art, but the currency market around it. That agenda of currency creation is what kills art, that second purpose that goes beyond the artistic aim in itself. Because of the recognition of art as a cultural factor and therefore its inclusion in the cultural ‘market’, art has to all appearances lost in playfulness.

‘when art becomes self-conscious, that is, conscious of its own grace, it is apt to lose something of its eternal child-like innocence’ (Huizinga, 2003, 202).

Adding to that, my personal belief is that the element of play is the only element in this day and age that can distract and detach the artist from the conscious and meaningful awareness of being part of a cultural context, to let her/him/they free of expressing the self-reflection with purity of intention and communication (to the others, to the world). it is time bound, within being contextual, it can dissociate itself from the outside actuality and its performance is for its own end; furthermore is is a pleasurable relaxation from the strains of ordinary life. 

To paraphrase Plato, if life must be lived as play, even more so art shall be lived as play, and then a man will be able to propitiate the Truth and defend himself against his internal enemies and win in the contest. Thus Men will live accordingly to Nature since in most respects they are puppets, yet having a small part in truth. (Huizinga, 2003, 212)


for Schiller art and the aesthetics of man have a fundamental route in play (Schiller, 1994). Play meaning freedom to act, to create, independently from a force or materialistic need. It is the uplifting of the soul that moves men to play and it is because it doesn’t come from a material necessity that play makes us free, finally liberated from duties and necessities. 

This experience, this creation of a space where we can act free is where we find the strong link between aesthetics, beauty and play. And it is because of this possibility to enjoy freedom in an ‘artefacted’ way that consequently (and not prior!) lies the educational value of art. this is one of the ways freedom of play creates a cultural phenomenon. 

In the words of Dörnberg, “The quality that we call beauty represents the same lightness of spirit as the game does. In the beautiful work of art, the material is not dominated by the form or vice versa”. (Dörnberg, 2006, 21)

Now, because we are so culturally bound and rationally bound – yes i blame it on or brain – the author then goes on to say that it is exactly because of that educational spin that art is the highest form of play. i disagree on this point. this is an incorrect ‘sophism’.

Having read and understood and finding myself in agreement with the spirit of Huizinga’s book, i argue here that it is exactly because of its ‘bound-ness’ to cultural meaning that art is the lowest form of play. what i am arguing here is that we need to be aware of our unstoppable search for educational and cultural value in art: it is exactly these kind of searches and rationalisations for secondary and third meanings that purity of the freedom and playfulness in art is diluted. 

Let’s stop its dilution and misplacement within our existence on this big world. 

The undiluted, genuine, free work of art shows a joyful play between form and matter, between beauty and necessity, and thus represents the highest kind of play. 

From I can ever recollect through history, art-movements have tried each time to gain some inches towards a ‘True Art’. and with that come concepts of disruption of the status quo, or, at the opposite, total embodiment of it. many have tried to free themselves of the grids of the art world; from the futurists onwards the search for a brake through categories, definitions, descriptions to reach for an ideal free mode of expression is incredibly clear.

Improv Theatre, contemporary dance, electronic music, performance art, spoken word, game art are all forms of escape from the constrained box of what is defined as ‘art’. 

Through ‘confronting the beholder’ (Fried as cited by Goldberg, 2004, 10), through interactivity, the illusion of constant movement, a state of flux, these artists retain a tentativeness and playfulness that allows them to step away from the ‘after-thought’ purpose and be there and then, open.

Openness, provocation, trans-creation, are ways to respond to change, provoke change, ways to never settle to a point in time and space; a constant activity of unravelling while providing ambiguity, irrevocably disruptive of the concept of ‘traditional art’ and, in the words of Goldberg (2004, 15) challenging the double-headed canon of the stablished art media. 

They are all forms of action against the art establishment in order to – allow me to paraphrase Goldberg again – relinquish the heavy mantel of high art. all of this, at a fundamental level, stripped of all the cultural contexts, in search for a truth that i believe can be found in free art. 

And to reach that, i play. 

In Education:

Games are steps on the way to beauty, because they educate the player to enjoy the freedom of creativity. 

Unproductive, creative, fun learning is more useful then productive learning. Especially when play is examined pre-education, but for education purposes, we see how this element of non-real, free, unproductive, fun activity is a stepping stone to a more insightful education. 

Contrary to Schiller’s position, Montessori refuses play as a means of education. She holds that children have to work in order to find their way in the difficulties of reality. But in studying her methods one realises that there are many elements of that freedom which Schiller attributes to play. Children can chose the things with which they “work”. They are not forced to use them in exactly the same way that the nurse has shown them. And most important: the children enjoy their “work” thoroughly””. (Dörnberg, 2006).

It’s the ‘consciously playful approach’ that i described at the beginning of my essay that Montessori applied in her learning system, while keeping it separate from the actual ‘work’ that the children are asked to do.

In Socio-economics:

A playful approach to a socio-economic system that we have created allows us not only to detach ourselves from the fears of the society but to keep a perspective and ‘third eye’ on the values and moralities that an unstable, disloyal, selfish and uneducated system is trying to impose on us. so that we might remember this: we are the players of a game we have created. this game has outgrown ourselves and we are not free players anymore. we have become assets … but we can change the rules and … go back to be the players of the game. 

For example, if we look at meritocracy, it is based on a utilitarian interpretation of our work and us as a workforce. Utilitarianism as a philosophical system states that the most moral action is the one that maximises utility: in essence, that the end justifies the means. But one of the well-noted problems of adopting utility as the primary measure of morality is that it ignores the concept of justice, as cruel actions are condoned so long as they contribute to the greater good (Ada, 2015).

In its rejection of social justice, utilitarianism is essentially a de-humanising philosophy. It objectifies people.

A perfect meritocracy banishes all sense of gift or grace. It diminishes our capacity to see ourselves as sharing a common fate. It leaves little room for the solidarity that can arise when we reflect on the contingency of our talents and fortunes.” (Sandel as cited by Lenfield, 2020)

In Civic Culture:

I bring your back to Ancient Greece, where attending the theatre was considered a necessary requirement for eligibility to vote. “The Greeks understood that sharing experiences, particularly the experiences of those who look, sound and think differently to us is a way of understanding the world around us”, writes journalist Lyn Gardner(2017) when quoting Sellars.  

In Contemporary Entertainment:

Indeed a playful approach must be the guiding star. for as soon as layers of cultural, social and economical value attach themselves to the ‘purity of gaming’, the whole vocational, intuitive, pre-cutlrual, free aspect of play ends and all we do is an illusion of play. we deceive ourselves, we delude ourselves that we are playing a free game; but our mind is thinking of the assets, the value of those, the monetisation of assets, the capitalisations on winner or lost games, the commodification of … freedom to play.  

In the art world – with a small a:

The most deadening influence on art in our time is the belief that content matters more than style. (…) Artists like Marc Quinn, Antony Gormley and Tracey Emin – all have very clear points to make. Once you’ve understood them, what’s left to say?

Real art doesn’t have a message, doesn’t necessarily say anything. It is an arrangement of shapes, a pattern of words. If you want an antidote to this idea of art, watch Bob Dylan manically arranging and rearranging words on a shop sign he and the band spotted one day. That is art” (Jones, 2009).

Because of its primitive, basic, intuitive nature, playfulness as a ‘philosophy of art’, i argue, transcends and therefore raises Art above all those problematic cultural and socio-economic contexts and purposes that ‘stain’ it of greed, hypocrisy, exclusions which, instead, have, up till now, made the art blanket… very dirty.

I call for a 


on the art world 

with a small ‘a’ to stop faking it and actually being art, being free, being playful, being joyous and brave, being unconditioned by temporary cultural systems (like capitalism, money etc), being un-educational, purposeless, for its own and only sake. I call for an art that is primordially free.

tales from the Punk Matter…

the invisible moral compass at the art world’s margin. 

This essay will use direct research methods (interviews with artists) to open up a space of inquiry and encounter between a specific reading of art and enterprise in the 21st Century defined as ‘Dark Matter’ (Sholette, 2011) and the ethos, attitude and practices of the category of cultural production that goes under the term ‘punk’. 

While Sholette uses the metaphor of Dark Matter to describe the invisible enterprise and social force at the margin of the art world,  l will borrow that  same metaphor and the socio economic insights that Sholette gives us to examine and talk about the profound moral role that a specific category of Dark Matter (the punk culture) plays in keeping the Arts as a beautiful discipline of human growth: a form of criticality and moral compass towards the contemporary art world that has developed whilst remaining invisible to its domain. 

I used the reference to Dark Matter in the title because I like the way Sholette uses the concept of Dark Matter to give power to the invisible. 

I limit my reference to the author to that and his socio-economic analysis. 

But here, I personally want to examine and expand on the aspect of cultural Dark 

Matter, the ethical one, the moral one, the idealistic one. I will position myself at a distance from Sholette in the analysis of my idea that Punk culture, as one of the  three categories that for the author from the Dark Matter, has, beyond its economic and political role, the fundamental role of moral compass to the art world. And they – the Punk —do so, differently from most of the Dark Matter described by Sholette, by not caring for visibility. 

According to the Dark Matter metaphor, while the 1% privileged of the institutionalised art world looks like the centre of the universe, it only exists and is contained by the margins of Dark Matter ‘labour’. Likewise but on a higher level, I will argue that: while we only see the 1% of the art universe that is institutionalised and capitalised and, therefore, somehow morally deviated, the ‘punk art and artists’ inside the Dark Matter are the moral compass that restores the art world to its real values and keeps it from falling completely apart to the evil of money . They – the Punk – do not ‘inevitably challenge normative artistic values’ (Sholette, 2011, 4).but consciously  and actively reiterate their own understanding, assertion and embodiment of the art values’.

While we see the shining stars of the art world, most of which are already ‘dead’, the art universe is morally driven, created and contained by the invisible live force of what I call Punk Matter. 

I’m no physicist, I’m no economist, I’m am no punk culture expert, but my encounter with some specific artists and my own experience in cultural terms suggests this approach to me. 

From John Dewey’s  classic ‘Art as Experience’ to Dave Bench  ‘Art as Encounter’, as well as several others in between, experience and embodied knowledge are  primary forms of direct cultural  pedagogy and  resistance of top-down narratives.  

More specifically, in terms of essay methodology and In light of the fact that western methodology of artistic research is culture bound; I follow and agree with Feyerabend, who reminds us ‘The Western tradition of science uses a multi-layered symbol and coding system; this makes other knowledge systems look  incomparable but does not mean that other methods  are less important than the Western ones’ (J Varto, p96 ). For, in the words of Varto himself, 

‘It is, however, essential that- in the midst of the increasingly academic and pompous art world – the atmosphere of play and fun is maintained as part of artistic thinking and research. When evaluating research , it may be justified to grant the lion’s share of esteem 

to the researcher’s insight; an overly balanced work may eventually be uninteresting. 

But this deserves a chapter to another story. For the purpose of this essay I just mean to highlight that i am using a valid  and academically supported methodology, although based on life experience and not necessarily presented in a systematic way.  

The ARTISTS and PIECES chosen 

The three pieces I have chosen are ‘Vision of Excess’, a performance piece and also an exhibition, by Lee Adams, ‘The Face’, a screen-printed piece by Jennifer Manning and ‘Am I a Puppet’, a digital puppetry piece by Lucy Childs. I have interviewed all three artists (list of questions in the appendix).

Below are pictures of the three pieces i am referring to. 

The reason I enjoy these three pieces is, for the purpose of this essay, because they are practical, clear examples of the approach I have taken, since i propose that all of them elaborate, each in its own way, some of the attributes of punk ethics, aesthetics and positioning within cultural production and distribution, that holds the art world to its ideal values and forms the core of my thesis. these are issues of accessibility, a degree of honesty, a sense of curiosity, a soul of purity, iterations of freedom,a rebellious attitude and, consequently, invitation to engage that they all convey, although the disparity of medium, approach and emotions that guide these three artists to their work.

 As Lee Adams says (and Jenny Manning mentions too) being an artist is a vocation: it is all about intentions behind a piece and the intentions of these three artists seem to me, in their disparity of approach, to all come down to the ‘ideal’ values of the art world. If being an artist is a vocation, it suggests that a vocational artistic attitude is based on ethics and beliefs rather then skillsets. And this transpires all the way through their interviews.

The person inside the artist

For instance, L. Adams always wanted to be an artist since the age of 6; he knew that being an artist meant to meet interest ing people, have an interesting life, be able to get your hands dirty while philosophising and he had – and still has – a massive brain. (Lee Adams).

J. Mann ing loved the printing workshop, the fun , the creativity, the play. She still does. And meeting interesting people with whom to have a meaningful conversation is a fundamental matter: if you can’t talk, drink or smoke, out. She can drink, smoke and most importantly, have a proper conversation. all while screen printing and being mother to a 14 years old boy (J. Manning).

L. Childs has been making and playing with puppets and animation since she has memory, from finger puppets to basking through Europe to researching at Bournemouth university; she is part of the ‘Alchemist of the Surreal’ gang, term coined by Michael O’Pray and Arch ie Tait with the group’s members listed by O’Pray as: Georges Melies, Joseph Cornell, Zbigniew Rybcznski, Walerian Borowczyk, Luis Bunuel, Jeff Keen, the Brothers Quay, Jean Painleve, David Lynch, Georges Franju, David Cronenberg, Peter Greenaway, Roger Corman, Roman Polanski, Harry Smith and Jan Svankmajer.

They are a/chemists in the sense that they blend disparate materials in the service of fantasy; they endow the real, the very materiality of the world its objects, surfaces and textures with an aura of strangeness and the fantastic.’ ( O’Pray, p.254)

Questioning creation, death and human condition through surrealism and surreal phantasies, she is now puppeteering her own digital self.

Their dark matter qualities

As per Sholette, Dark Matter

“makes up the bulk of the artistic activity produced in our postindustrial society. However, this type of Dark matter is invisible primarily to those who lay claim to the management and interpretation of culture- the critics, art historians, collectors, dealers, curators and arts administrators. It includes informal practices such as home-crafts, makeshift memorials, Internet art galleries, amateur photography and pornography painters, self-published newsletters and fan zines.Yet,justasthephysicaluniverseisdependent onitsdarkmatterandenergy,sotooisthe artworlddependentonitsshadowcreativity.Itneedsthisshadowactivityinmuchthesameway certain developing countries secretly depend on their dark or informal  economies’  (Sholette, 1973, 4.14)

Looking at my three chosen pieces, and if we follow Sholette, we shall look at the socio economic behind the artists themselves: These artists are all born in the 60’s, all from working class background, all part of underground counterculture and all, one way or another, ‘punk to the bone’ (their bodies have absorbed a ‘body of ideas’ into  themselves). You won’t find much on them online, they mostly move in Sholette’s Dark Matter and what you will find as documentation through the institutional art world is nowhere near to the experience one has coming to close contact with one of their pieces

While it feels to me that Sholette’s analysis between Dark Matter and Punk culture in both his books Dark Matter and Delirium and Resistance is somehow limited to its socio-economic aspects and therefore, to me, just one ‘act of the play’, I, as mentioned in the introduction, want to talk about the bigger role of moral guiding star- not limited to social  change – that I attribute to what I call Punk Matter, one of the three categories (the punks) that Sholette identifies as forming Dark Matter (Sholette, 2011 , 160).

 Let us hear it from the mouth of the artists themselves, as the interviews reveal. As the three artists say, straight away, being an artist is having a specific mindset and sensitivity, it’s about self-reflection, dialogue and growth- Lucy uses the term: human condition. and freedom of expression (L. Childs😉

What they love and want from art is ideas, purity, disruption, challenge, inspiration , transformation, pleasure.

What they hate about it is politics, egoistic intention, stillness, art-fossils. An artist doesn’t stop developing and so their art.

Those are all ideals, values, beliefs, ethics of life. It’s moral content, not socio-economic  one, that i am highlighting here. Why do I call them Punk Matter? Surely to begin with, it’s because i am appropriating the terms of Matter and Punk from Sholette who used them in close association (punks are one of the three main categories that for Sholette form the Dark Matter as mentioned before.

But mostly and mainly  because if we look at punk and its values, it is about freedom, disruption, transformation, ideas, action… quite the same as above. It would seem my Punk Matter and The Art shall be a match made in Heaven then, but .. is it so? Why does it not appear so?

Let’s try and be methodical here, as per western artistic research requirements, and examine the three pieces, their characteristics and how/if, they link to my Punk Matter as Art world’s moral compass thesis.

What can I tell you about their stories and how their art, as examples of Punk Matter, proclaim and holds the art world to its ideals?

Conceptually punk.

Conceptually the three pieces are profound sentiments, questions and reflections around theme of life and death, human condition, illusions and beliefs.

Lee Adam’s piece is his take on the Acephale, the headless, decapitated man, a figure by philosopher Bataille (1936),  from whom the artist is strongly influenced in all his practice: the headless man’s genitals are a skull (Bataille 2018, 11), which Lee transforms in his performance into a Mickey Mouse mask: a profound concept playfully and accessibly reinterpreted ! The visual is surreal. Like Lee says about his other strong influence Ron Athey, for me, his piece “has the ability to perform a magical act of tantric elevation.

Jenny Manning’s is a blurred face, a smokey face, that hides other shapes. A red dish ocra colour on grey-sh. Sometimes the face seems different although it’s a simple screen print on a t-shirt; it moves with the body of the wearer and with the eyes of the viewer, a bit like Monalisa! It talks about illusion, smoke addiction, blurred human state, blurred margins and a continuous transformation.

Lucy Child’s piece, Am i a Puppet, is about the continuous struggle of human condition of being subject to ego, power trip, cont rol, exploitation. The real time, improvised performance of a digital puppet to which the viewer cannot but relate and dialogue is a total detachment from reality.. within reality: it’s totally surreal.

In a nutshell, they are philosophising on human condition through art: practicing things – practicing life, practicing creation, as Gates would say (Gary Younge, 2014, on line). Interestingly  enough, and I open a little parenthesis here, Gates, one would argue, is actually part of that 1%  of shiny art  world rather than dark matter so there seem to be a contradiction here .But to me that is interesting because it proves artists on both sides of the spectrum, talk the same language, it is the language of the ideal art world. The difference is that Punk Matter can also practice it continuously while the 1% is struggling between ethics and capitalism, being bribed to talk the talk but do not walk the walk.

Accessibly punk

They are all incredibly accessible pieces in both their execution and delivery: and producing accessible art, to me, says a lot about the kind of personality and morality of the artists. All three artists preach that anyone can do art, no matter the backgrounds;  no matter the means; no matter the delivery. That’s why Lucy Childs performs mainly in entertainment situations, or on the street, projecting out of either her home window or a van; the tools are digital puppetry with DIY, off-the-shelf technology . That is why of Lee Adams’ live performance with a cartoon mask, in the Vaults under London Bridge inside a much bigger 48 hrs event that includes party, music, workshops…That is why of Jenny Manning’s drawing directly on a silk-screen that is transformed into a canvas and put on at-shirt to wear. Interestingly so, these are also the artists that will not really have an agent, will not really produce within or for the ‘art system’.

They practice all these believes and values to the core in each and every aspect of their art. They are playfully challenging and disruptive… They want to open up a conversation to grow as beings. They hate closing, they hate stale, they hate stillness.

 Allow me a creative connection here… As the candid Desiderio Navarro or Vladimir Maiakowski would have put it: “geometric retro-abstraction: am art without problems:

it is just what you see”(W. B., C.E., Afterall, 2013, 261) and

“why look afar?! Stay put and wait for the communication. You and I, says he, don’t need to think, if the leaders do”. (W. Bradley,C .Eshe, 2013, 261)

And, yet another interesting element: the pieces’ accessibility is also in this under lying sense of ‘macabre festivity’ that lift that real situation of dis-equality, poverty, and marginality… to a mean for a playful conversation and individual and collective human growth.

Aesthetically punk

This quest for understanding human condition and this belief that everybody is born the same (and therefore has same status and can do same things) transpires in every aspect, included the three artists’ aesthetics. They are unique and staggering  while conceptually profound. Bare art, post avant guard, illusion, extreme provocation, experimental, real, (Sholette, 2017, 132) and in them, in their slack, experimental, illusionary art they are reiterating their artistic autonomy as a moral critic to the system.

Like the punk aesthetics and inspirations, these artists’ aesthetic come out of the avant-garde, post modernism, post existentialism (BBC, 2017, online) movements, and the belief art is free, for anyone to make (like music). All three of them say it: the crafts of art, the ‘art-skills’ are only tools but one can make anything out of those tools, one can use them as they please and can also make new tools. There are no rules to who can   do what.

Deliverabely punk

In the way they deliver their art, their behaviour, within the dark matter, is also punk: they are mainly involved in collaborative project of underground, counterculture art, their projects are challenging the norms of art and its discourse. They know that to be ‘discovered’ means the whole money machine is put in movement and the artist be comes part of that ‘capitalised’ art discourse. This is why they either play on the borders of it or quickly jump in and out of it, they always keep their art accessible to anyone and give much to the system (the institutionalised and capitalised art system).

And they play and deliver philosophical concepts to prove freedom and equality, so that anyone can be privileged enough to do art.

because… a-la Walter Benjamin

“if the enemy wins, not even the dead will be safe”. (W.Benjamin, 2019)

Morally- and politically- Punk

Looking at punk culture, it embraces anarchism for a very moral reason, which is: the starting point and common belief that nobody is superior to anyone, in fact anyone can do anything, anyone is free because we all start from the same point. So a system (in our case, the art system) that says to be democratic but then favours the privileged is a system to reject because intrinsically unfair. As any system, it intrinsically has hierarchies and punk matter does not accept hierarchies because in this sick system, hierarchies mean privileges and punk – matter or culture – do not accept privileges based on social construct. Punk do not accept a democratic system that is not really democratic, a system that continuously fails the weaker, the ones the system was born for: a fake democratic system. Anarchy means that people have the ability to have some form of living together that isn’t a system because they have some code, a moral compass, of freedom and respect of each individual within a group. The same is for these three artists and their art: they reject the system, they play the system, they do not buy into it; even in the aesthetic, as I highlighted before, it’s not about your craft skills, there is no hierarchy in art either, the punk aesthetic grew up on this thing that you can make any thing out of anything.

Because, like punk know that the social system is formed of ruling class exploiting the rest of us, punk matter knows that the art system is the same. as Lucy Childs candidly and clearly put it, “there is a deliberate systematic education of the ruling class, a  non education of the majority of the people so the punk matter say<- beep –  you!> and doastheyplease.

Because punk is abut freedom of ideas . (KLF). Punk is about human growth.

Art is not

Art is not activism, art is not political action, art is not education.

Art disrupt and resists the comfortable the stiflingly familiar and the status quo....

Alana Janinak

Punk matter, like Punk and like Art-, is not. Punk –  Matter- is not a culture of aspiration but a culture of revolt. Punk – Matter – is about freedom, to do what you want, to be what you want. Refusing the historical, refusing the system because of the lies on which they are based: think with your head. In Punk – Matter – each individual is part of a flock rather then an army. And as the individual is aware of its presence inside the flock and of the flock and questions what comes so that the individual together whole flock will progress. (G. Graffin, 2013; M. Woreley, 2013).

Punk – Matter- is against tradition, against class, against stillness, against closure; pro the weaker, pro the minorities, pro opening a conversation. Punk matter would never – a reference to the infamous Tate editorial on Freedom of Art – ask the art audience to stop complaining to keep art free. Punk Matter would argue that as long as we keep the conversation going, we are growing.


So, because of this non-hierarchical approach, this non-boxable approach, be cause of the belief that anybody can do (anything, as long as with common sense), be cause of this core moral compass that runs into the veins of the punk culture, it is this role of Moral Lighthouse, Ethical Vocation that these ‘vocational’ punk artists keeps on injecting into the art world.

They are the darkness that make the stars shine. Those stars that once they get to shine, are partially morally ruined in their art purity, just for being incorporated into the Shining bit of the universe. Remember, what we see shining, might well be dead al ready!

They, with their continuous playful disruptions and honest challenges to the status quo, they, the ‘punk artists’ of the Dark Matter, the Punk matter as i like to put it simply, are most and foremost reminder and ‘restorers’ of the art world to its ideal values. 

Their return to the romantic ideal of purity and autonomy, their faith in art, beside the corruption within the institutionalised art world, they, as Dark Heroes of graphic novels from the 70’s and 80’s, are continuously bringing redemption to the evil of the art world. 

Without them, the art world is lost, is doomed to the evil of money and power.


Sholette, Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the age of enterprise cu/true. 2011, Pluto Press, London.

Sholette, Delirium and Resistance: activist art and the crisis of capitalism, 2017, Pluto Press, London.

Sholette, DARK MATTER Activist Art and the Counter-Public Sphere, Artforum, 2011, 

http://www.gregorysholette.com /wp-content/uploads/2011/04/05 darkmattertwo1.pdf.

G. Bataille, The Sacred Cospiracy. The Internal Papers of the Secret Society of Acephale and Lectures to the College of Sociology, 201B, Atlas Press

O’Pray, Michael. (1989) Surreal ism. Fantasy and the Grotesque, Donald James

ed, in Fantasy and the Cinema, London, BFI.

Gary Younge, Theaster gates, the artist whose, October 2014, guardian onnline, https://www.theguardian.com/society /2014/oct/06/theaster-gates-artist-latest-project-is regenerating-chicago-artes-mundi

W. Bradley,C.Eshe,Afterall, Art and social change: a critical reader , 2007, Tate, London.

BBC doc, Francis Bacon: A brush with violence, 2017, iplayer, https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0Bcwq3v/francis-bacon-a-brush-with-violence?fbclid=lwAR13WBjoQvm-T qDc5wlQoDAygWBBHxxXHb2yQWF7CXVeiCAB FYTndDPwQ2c

John Higgs, KLF. Chaos , magic and the the band who burned a million pounds,

2013, W&N, London.

W .Benjam in, Thesis on the philosophy of historyin Hanna Arendt Illumina tions,1973, Fontana Press.

G. Graffin, Punk Manifesto, 2013, https://punxinsolidarity.com/2013/10/22/punk


M. Woreley, Punk, Politics and Youth Culture, 1976-84, 2013, https://unireadin


Jhua Varto, Artistic Research What Is It? Who Does It? Why?, Aalto Univers ity, Helsinki

Other books that i have read and contributed to the knowledge i have put in this essay are:

D. Child, Working Aesthethics: /about art and capitalism, 2019, Bloomsbury Academic, London.

Toby Mott, Punk troubles. Northern ire/and, 2018, Dashwood Books, NY.

Astrid Seme, Baronessas Elsa ’em dashes , 2018, Mark Pezinger Verlag, Wien. Sezgin Boynik, Gregoire Rousseau , RabRab Issue Three, 2016, RAB-RAB :

Journal for Political and Formal Inquiries in Art, Helsinky

Ben Davis, Theses on Art and Class, 2013, Haymarket Books, Chicago Brian Dillon, Essayism, 2017, Fitzcarraldo Editions, London.

PRACTICAL SKILLS for CG Task Two: Avatar Essay

  • Propose and sketch out a prototype idea for a game for which you will develop an avatar based interface.

  • Design and build the assets for the avatar prototype

  • Present your work, including research and evaluation reports and process documentation


Table of Content: 

Brainstorm & MindMap pgs. 1-3

The winning idea pgs. 3-4

Research and development pgs. 4-13

Some executional details pgs. 13-19

Self evaluation pgs. 19-22

BaLlBiT_fOS: brainstorm and MIND MAP

When i started looking into ideas for the avatar game and interface, my first thought was to continue developing the character of my first hero vs villains game – Happy Vulture farm – the vulture.

I was convinced it would have been an interesting further development of the idea.

brainstorm and mind-map: the vulture seems to have the best out of two character ideas


Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 14.31.08 heros
two characters in my head…

So i started working on the volture accessories and possible animations

I gave it a bucket and animated its tail and beak. on a separate file i animated its eye,  the idea being that at each change of accessory he would blink at the player in complicity.

new hero anim YESSSS cloudOK0010
(please see swf file in WIP/avatars 1711 folder)

BaLlBiT_fOS: the WINNING idea

But… in my mind there was another character that wanted to have its ‘coming out’ and was getting really impatient so by end of november i completely turned around and  away from the vulture further development and went into first development of my other concept and character, BaLlBiT fOS, a cross between a Ball and a Rabbit from Outer Space, a naughty, mischievous Ballbit that has a proper attitude toward the world, it’s the fool, the clown, the buffon, the goblin, the mischief in all of us, that is what it represents.   

screen-shot-2018-02-18-at-17-22-45.pnghero2Eli copy

the decision moment

there were a couple of fundamental reasons why i turned away from the vulture and back to exploring this character instead.

firstly, the idea that i wanted to differentiate as much as possible my creative approaches, explore new stories and narratives, alternative angles if the same kind of vision that drives me, my curiosity, my journey.

secondly, it’s a braintrick. as you will read from my self evaluation notes, i think i need ot be more disciplined and allocate more time for this, to focus more. this is a trick that i know works with me: to start something and put it out there, because once it’s out, i cannot but start fiddling with it to make it better, develop it more etc.  If i leave it in its embrio form, a sketch somewhere, an idea and a couple fo screen shots or else, it will stay there for years, and i basically make myself miss the train.

BaLlBiT_fOS: research and DEVELOPMENT

Ballbit_fOS is a naughty adult character for adult game players, for people who know the world in its so many different faces and tones and shades, for people that are mature enough to understand playfulness is key to our well being, mischief and stupidity that make us laugh is like meditation for the soul. I want to convey that there are multiple realities and it all depends on our attitude towards what we see ì, what we want to see, aìhow we decide to see it and therefore act upon it… i believe the world can be in a much happier place if only we were a bit more open to our own stupidity and to constant change and transformation: because the beauty of all this journey lies in that nothing stays the same  and the reason we are still here is because we are an animal that can adapt and therefore aìevolve quickly: we need to nurture change and diversity because that is what makes us survive in the chain of nature. Evolution is about adapting to eh world’s constant changes, not to get stuck into one vision of the world. And embracing stupidity  in its purest, cleanest, most honest form i believe helps us going through this constant change with a smile.

I want to tell the world our journey is a happy place full of adventures and changes, things do not have to be taken always so seriously if we want to play this game called life happily, and that is what ìBalbit fos is about.

my genderless statement


First and foremost i therefore decided to make a quite clear statement: this is non-gender specific, sorry. It is a statement of intents, because it is the first and clearest step and proof that this avatar is about change, diversity, stepping out of the grid. Do you enjoy the idea of playing with a chacììrachter that makes you think already at the first click about diversity, change, transformation, poke, mischief, cultural boxes and naughty activism? If so, please come on board, you are in for a treat and a thoughtful smile. It’s about being aware of our little crazy obsessions, about the fact that we are so human and full of fails, about the fact that there is nothing wrong with it as long as there is respect for the others, as long as we don’t impose on others, as long as we laugh about our stupidity and failures in a conscious adult manner.

So ballbit fos wants to be a bit kinly but with a laugh, it wants to be a bit pushy but with complicity, it wants to push you out of your comfort zone but always by holding your hand kind of light motiv. It wants to be rough but cute at the same time. It’s what you would call an experienced fool. And here he is in all its drawing beauty (B/W china).


And that is more or less my vision and relevant consumer insight that is behind the idea, conceptual development and creative execution of my cutely mischievous BaLlBiT_fOS: a naughty lovely cRoSs between a Ball and a Rabbit from Outer Space.


Another Part of the decision process was looking at possible accessories and how to deliver the mood of the character and its changing mood depending on the accessories the gamer decide to give it.

So instead of giving it a specific environment, that would have closed the possibilities, reduced them to the look and feel of the environment it is in, i decided to simply change colours of the background as the accessories teìhemselves are clear and distinctive enough on the kind of mood and world they represent but without a specific environment to see them in the whole story and game behaves more like a book rather than a film, in the sense that you choose the accessory and therefore a clear mood but you are still free to imagine which world Balbit for will use that accessory in.

Here is the colour palette of the background

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 14.16.27

And character and accessory digital development

The Avatar: its accessories mindmap and narrative…


Initially as you can see i was keen on creating quite a few accessories to make up for the lack in gender choice, so that the player still has at least more than three basic changing options. I was planning on having piercings, a gag ball, a gas mask, different tails and maybe even rabbit-tunnels for the ears.

ichabod gas mask2
i’ve gone into a gasmask frenzy


Tunnels frenzy … front, side, ¾…


lemur’s tails research

At the end though i finalised only three accessories, i chose the ball gag, tail and gas mask. Reason is time as always, i did not have time to finish all, gven i lost my usb and three weeks worth of work just before submission date. The reason i chose the accessories i choose is because it leaves the panorama a bit broader as it mixes clearly kinky accessories, ball gag, with clearly a la mad max steam punk after was ones, gas mask, with cute manga style ones, tail.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.20.00
the birth of the chosen three: ball gag, gas mask and lemur tail.


This way the overall vision stays that one of an experienced fool, that can go from cute to kinky to warrior to whaìtever and is not stuck in just one basket (the kinky one or the steampunk one or the cute one). This executional detail again represents and supports my vision of the game as i wrote before, that one where there is not one world or one only reality but multiple so we are not stuck, and neither my character, into one specific mood and way of seeing the world but we change, from cute to kinky to warrior to whatever else….

In fact after i thought this through as per the above thinking process i realised i wanted my avatar to show both its side and front view so that the whole character is represented and kind of shown in all its changed glory. How does the accessory impact its physicality, how does it impact its movement, how does it impact its naughtiness…. Etc.


Here is how i developed the final digital files, got the references above, and made my own digital version of those, for both the tail and the ball gag. For the gas mask instead, as i really liked the deviantart productions, i looked for one that was on their website available and free to use in terms of license. And i found actually my favourite one that could really play well with the avatar. Here it is.

My gas mask of choice: what a beauty! and free of rights!

The beauty of this mask ìis that it is not just an accessory to be added to the avatar, the beauty of this accessory is that it really changes the whole feel, look and actual physicality of the character, so that the concept of changing an accessory visually makes the gamer understand that it also changes the whole character mood, vision and reason to be. The ears change, the face shape changes, the way in which it can move changes too.

So ideally each one of those accessories should point straight away at the gamer that accessories changes means also character profile changes, not just the mood but also its look and feel and therefore ‘executional’ (the creative execution) world to live in.

This is also why, when i prepared the gas-mask animated file and  made a mistake in the animation i decided to keep in in a later moment as soon as i realised it would help deliver the above concept of overall character change for each one accessory. The mistake is that there is a keyframe, inside the animation of the avatar when it gains its gas-mask, that basically shows the character for a second both with and without the mask in its front view…. That is a strong visual actually because it remind the gamer of the character in its naked form and it also reminds the gamer of the fundamental concept of not keeping things too serious, always having a ìn element of complicit poke, complicit joke, complicit laugh. That is actually how it looks to me in the animation…. As if the avatar was blinking at me in complicity with me at playing with accessories and moods.

Here is the steps by which i literally developed the accessories in their digital form.


And now background, animation and therefore character soul in…

please see file to see ball-gag animated avatar .swf file


Here are the other two accessories with respective color palette applied, prepared, cleaned, optimised in photoshop and ready to be used in flash.



Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 10.37.21

And here are the actual flash swf files as you will see them in the ‘docs’ folder in the google drive, under ‘avatar’.

the ball gag accessory is in

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 13.00.09
the gas mask accessory is in

screen-shot-2018-02-18-at-13-00-44.pngLast but not least, this time i am not forgetting sfx, i want a specific tune, i want the KFL tune what time is love, i want it specifically for the ball gag accessory as it links perfectly, and for the time being i am leaving it also on the gas mask and the tail but it is a place holder, i want the music to link and be specific to the accessory so that i can add another layer of characterisation and narrative of Ballbit fos adventures! 

(i am not able to upload the mp3 on this blog as to have this feature enabled i’d need to pay a monthly fee which i am not prepared to do, sorry)

I have produced a tune specifically  for example that has a whip sfx that could work amazingly well with the next kinky accessory i’ll  give ballbit fos, a proper, always genderless, dominatrix/master kit.

Sfx placeholder: Please see folder sfx in the google drive

I have another 2 mins tune that i produced just with the sounds of woods, wind, nature, that i could easily adapt for the tail accessory.

So that would be my ideal for the sfx.


And now to the … self evaluation

As per my Computer Game Studies essay, the thoughts below represent most general things i need to improve.

what I found hard: I really find hard to get a proper grip on all the different software.

Please do not get me wrong, this is not a discharge of responsibility, the following is actually an honest take-on-responsibility, mainly discipline I guess.  so… the bottom line is… I need to find more time for this, I find it really hard to get things working straight away. for instance… I have a mac with gm2 we work on pc with gm1.4, the computers at school have adobe 7, I have adobe 6, so I need to do some things with my computer and not from school, I do not have word, so I need to write at school or – like i am doing today – directly on the google drive using google docs online, I lost my USB one weeks before submission, I lost three weeks worth of work (the other 3 months I saved on another drive as well luckily), I cannot really practice at home, I have to work 3 days a week with a 6am start, lessons are three days a week with a 7am start… sometimes I also need to breath…. so I should really stop working and only doing this but I can’t afford it in London. I just can’t so am going to stick to doing as best as I can with the time I have and rather do little but as good as i can, rather then loads but poorly. And i am trying to put as many character ideas i have out so that – even if at embryonic level – they are out and public, i secure my space in the gaming panorama by publishing anything finished asap so nobody else can do the same and at the same time, because i have put something out, i am pushed to develop it further.

One silly little example of the frustrations of not being a software nerd and therefore not having the tools as perfect as they sìcould be is that i realised there was a mistake in the flash file of the tail accessory – the gag has disappeared off stage, there is a problem with the stage size or something…  but i can’t correct it for submission because i am at home now and i developed the final file at school  which means… my adobe 6 is not gonna make it to modify that only mistake without me having to redo most of the file because school adobe is version 7.


I really do care about the creative concept and the execution and I do have a clear vision of what I want in my avatar so I am not going to compromise on quality just for quantity. Now it is my time to do things exactly the way I want them, for what I can, to show to the world my perspective, my individualism, my character so I shall, even if only a little because …


I mean I head also some kind of technical problems but they are quite easy to fix, it’s more about having the tooldìs ready and working and me having good knowledge of those tools.  

Good thing is that I at least made a timing and tried to stick to it, I was quite in good shape until I lost the USB and that is why I am actually able to submit something because I was in good shape up until mid January! so lesson learn from first term, always try and keep your work up-to-date on all your drives. lesson learnt from second term: now get a proper grip on the software.

what I enjoyed doing: I love developing the idea, planning the structure of the idea, its conceptual development, its aesthetics in relation to its vision. I love my character, feel it, it’s part of me.

Basically I love doing in computer gaming what I loved doing for 20 year in the communication industry: creatively strategize a concept and bring it to life as a Master Puppeteer.

I am good at coming up with original but relevant ideas, building structure and narratives behind ideas, I am good at making them with legs that can walk a long way, I always make sure they are in some way relevant to a specific audience both conceptually and aesthetically otherwise they won’t last or hook.

I am not so good at…. the production side of things.. That is where I am slow but I think it is also because I am such a generalist, a bigger picture kind of person that the details come always after for me (and take loads of time because I focus my energies firstly on the idea creation and strategy).

what I can do best: I am pretty eclectic in my skills, I mean I am a good creative strategist and I know that from my successes, I understand consumers and the importance of insights to be relevant to them, I know how to create a story that can grow in years, keeping innovating without changing its initial concept, I have a good understanding of music and can produce it, I know very well the links between sound and movement as I have been a puppeteer in my early career and am now an animator (concept is the same, only difference that puppeteers give life  to physical puppets, game developers give life to virtual puppets).


so… from what I say above it seems like… I am all set for success, if I can have enough discipline to focus on it and not get distracted or side-trapped by London’s expensive life. I have decided to solely focus on school and give myself a chance to see if that really makes a difference. if it doesn’t I am missing something and it’s not worth, I missed the train kind of thing. but if it does (and I am pretty sure it will), I will enrol in the second year and keep it as that, no job, not my cosy flat and a room somewhere instead, but much more time to actually give it a proper 100% go.

So let’s see!



COMPUTER GAME Studies _ Term Two _ Task Three:


Task 3:

• Propose and sketch out 2 ideas for a game for which you will develop an interface
• Gather feedback and justify which one of the 2 designs you will develop further
• Design and build a visual approach of a computer game based on the tutorials practiced in class (this should be presented in a storyboard format)

table of content:

  • mindmap
  • research
  • winning idea
  • how it works
    • the trick is in the paddle
    • sfx
    • scores and lives
    • the next level up
  • self evaluation






the decision moment

the level up epiphany

idea 1 galaxyDiscover

idea2 galaxxpress


part of my decision process was looking at galaxies and ethereal concepts at the beginning to then start aesthetically getting more defined. while that definition was getting clearer, I also realised i was doing a journey through my research into the galaxy and the idea of a concrete and not only spiritual journey seemed stronger.


I then researched games around and it seemed to me there is none both on kind of the chakras side or train side BUT for sure i know that mediation, yoga, spirituality are now getting a strong grip on the mass market (well they have been for 10 years now, you are late mate!) so i thought, by the time I get this game to work, there will be something out there already about travelling through your chakras and i need to have something at least original to make up for all the rest (my non very skilled student skills). plus i really am getting fed up with all these fake yoga practitioner that are more self-centred than world centred – what a dichotomy, you do meditation to be more connected with mother earth and THE spirit and then you just become a ego-referred being that only cares about feeling good with itself! So let’s use this brick-breaker opportunity to make a statement … you wanna travel outside of this shallow, temporary, ephemeral world and into the much greater galaxy we are all connected to? good, you gotta work hard, get your train to work, get it to score, sweat! the more you sweat the better trains you will get and the cooler and stronger your journey will be… and the more different from anyone else you will be: you are your train into this galaxy and your train fuels from the  galaxy’s force.

the WINNING idea:

the galaXXpress _ a voyage into the galaxy with a special steaming paddle on top of a train we don’t see until the very end of each level, which reveals the train the gamer has been riding on for that level and makes him want to discover the next level train.

As mentioned in my research section, my game does play on a strong consumer insight about individuality and at the same time to another consumer insight of thrive to connect, so there is the element of individuality within the train each individual gamer gets, the individuality of the gamer doing its own individual journey. at the same time there is the spiritual element of the galaxy, the connection to a much bigger picture the sense that we ARE part of a much bigger thing.

galaxtr3each level has a different aesthetic theme that dictates the background colour palette, the bricks design, the train revealed at the end of the level.

So as each level is supposed to get more and more difficult, our voyager needs to be braver and stronger. 

The upper the levels the more cyber/end-of-the-world/steam-punk the train aesthetic gets.

The lower the level, the less defined, the more comic, childish, simple, flat the Tain, its drawing, its colours, its lines.




References and similarities and points of contact with my idea come from my youth:


galaxy 999 the manga


the galaxy 999 manga cartoon (see pics above) that came about round early 80’s and had a fabulous design, same for captain Harlock manga cartoon i loved and i watched daily, these voyages into the unknown galaxy, these dark but good and real character that seem to have survived the end of all worlds and come back cooler sexier and stronger.

capitan harlcxok first pirate ship
The first Original Pirate ship commanded by captain Harlock

The newer version…. a punk-pirate-ship-train


how it works:

My galaXXpress is a classic brickbreaker game, where the aim is to reach higher levels: the better the score the better the trains in the levels that will follow,  the more of an amazing adventure this galaxy voyage will be.

the trick is in the paddle:

as every brick-breaker game, also mine has different bricks that trigger different reactions, points , scores. For example there are bricks that get destroyed at the first instance they are hit, others that need to be hit twice, others that just do not disappear and others that give you lives or bring you straightway to the next level.

brickbreaker first design

But it was still missing some proper technical difficulty, it’s same as everywhere…. so I thought I’d put the trick in the paddle. The paddle i developed is quote complex (well it was for me) as it basically is a train steam, as if the gamer is seeing only the top of its machine: the paddle the gamer is seeing and driving is the top of its train, is the pot and steam of the train he is driving. and it is animated steam… so what if the ball bounces properly on the paddle if and only if it hits precisely the paddle on the animated steam? say if it is already below the steam, it won’t bounce even if it is hitting the paddle? so that the difficulty DOES BECOME about how  AN EXPERT GALAXY DRIVER you are. Can you swoosh amongst the planets, the galaxy rubbish, can you hit the asteroid exactly where it needs, can you avoid the tail of this, hit that, can you basically be extremely precise in your inputs, can you be the Master Puppeteer of your paddle? If you can, you will deserve better, more complex but also much cooler and stronger trains, so well done!

here some pics of how hard and how long it took me to get to the paddle idea working ….

I was very drawn initially to try and have a hyperrealistic look of the smoke so looked as you can see from the pics above into real steam animation, i tried and do it but it wasn’t good enough and it was clashing with the whole aesthetic idea of having non realistic visuals to try and steer away from this trend of hyperrealism when we can actually do so much more than that! (see essay, task 2)


so I looked into cartoon style smoke/steam as well, into pots where this steam should come from… above some research pics for you to enjoy…

and then I tried to make it my own….

animate it…. (see swf file included in the paddle folder that i cannot attach here)

and then finally decided to definitely go for the cartoon version. here is the result of my 4 months pregnancy ah! what a birth, I certainly took my time!

The interesting bit of this paddle is the fact that because the animation of the steam goes from one side to another of the paddle, of course when the direction of the train changes, the steam should change too! that is why you can see two versions of the paddle, one with steam left to right and one with steam right to left. in the game, every time the player changes direction of the paddle, the paddle actually changes itself consequently: cool!

luckily my wall is both on top and bottom of the brick-breaker screen so the fact that the actual pot is laying on a black background does not show so I do not have to modify that channel as well.

the SFX:

I have been djing with vinyls only and strictly vinyls for 13 years now and I have also produced music with a friend so it was really important for me to manage to give some sound-life to this game, even more so because i did not manage to do that in my first term unfortunately, but I did promise myself to do it in the second term and I did!

That’s why I introduce sfx both for the actual bricks when they get hit and for the paddle/train when the gamer reaches the next level.

the idea being here too that at the progression of levels also sfx become more interesting and complex then the classic tuuu tuuuu!

scores and lives….

you will see an icon for the lives, it’s quite steam-punk style but it is inly a place holder for the time being as I haven’t had the time to code that part in. scoring is the same, I am planning it but not had the time yet.

interestingly though I am more and more trying to bring original elements in so am thinking if i want a steam-punk style heart as a life (and the image I placed is free of usage by the way so i could) i would much rather prefer to take a picture of something that sparkles my imagination and modify that. this is what I am planning on doing with this potato…..

the next levels up:

here’s my first level train in all its beauty


win LVL10056

and some conceptual research into the evolution of the trains’ aesthetic in correlation to the levels achieved. it’s a work in progress, meaning i need to actually draw my own trains and elements for the next levels but the idea is there and is clear at least (:

galaxy trains8

self evaluation

what I found hard: i really find hard to get a proper grip on all the different softwares.

Please do not get me wrong, this is not a discharge of responsibility, the following is actually an honest take on responsibility, mainly discipline I guess.  so… the bottom line is… I need to find more time for this, I find it really hard to get things working straight away. for instance… I have a mac with gm2 we work on pc with gm1.4, the computers at school have adobe 7, I have adobe 6, so I need to do some things with my computer and not from school, I do not have office-word, so I need to write at school, I lost my USB one weeks before submission, I lost three weeks worth of work (the other 3 months I saved on another drive as well luckily) so … I cannot really practice at home, I have to work 3 days a week, lessons are three days a week… sometimes I also need to breathe…. so I should really stop working and only doing this but I can’t afford it in london. I just can’t so am gonna stick to doing as best as I can with the time I have and rather do one level of game but with the elements that I want in then three levels of crap/draft. I really do care about the creative concept and the execution and I do have a clear vision of what I want in my game so I am not gonna compromise on quality just for quantity… not until I am paid specifically to do that… in which case I’ll think about it.

Now it is my time to do things exactly the way I want them, for what I can, to show to the world my perspective, my individualism, my character so I shall, even if only a little because I AM TOO SLOW, I NEED TO GET MUCH QUICKER AND TO DO THAT I NEED TO HAVE TIME TO PRACTICE.

good thing is that I at least made a timing and tried to stick to it, I was quite in good shape until I lost the USB and that is why I am actually able to submit something because I was in good shape up until mid january! so lesson learnt from first term, always try and keep your work up-to-date on all your drives. lesson learnt from second term: now get a proper grip on the softwares.

what I enjoyed doing: i love developing the idea, planning the structure of the idea, its conceptual development, its aesthetics in relation to its vision. basically i love doing in computer gaming what i loved doing for 20 year in the communication industry: creatively strategize a concept and bring it to life as a Master Puppeteer.

I am good at coming up with original but relevant ideas, building structure and narratives behind ideas, i am good at making them with legs that can walk a long way, i always make sure they are in some way relevant to a specific audience both conceptually and aesthetically otherwise they won’t last or hook. i am not so good at…. the production side of things is where i am slow but i think it is also because i am such a generalist, a bigger picture kind of person that the details come always after for me (and take loads of time because i focus my energies firstly on the idea creation and strategy).

what I can do best: I am pretty eclectic in my skills, I mean I am a good creative strategist and I know that from my successes, I understand consumers and the importance of insights to be relevant to them, I know how to create a story that can grow in years, keeping innovating without changing its initial concept, I have a good understanding of music and can produce it, I know very well the links between sound and movement as I have been a puppeteer in my early career and am now an animator (concept is the same, only difference that puppeteer give life  to physical puppets, game developers give life to virtual puppets).


so… from what I say above it seems like… I am all set for success, if I can have enough discipline to focus on it and not get distracted or side-trapped by London’s expensive life. I have decided to leave my flat and rent it for the third and last term so I can solely focus on school and give myself a chance to see if that really makes a difference. if it doesn’t that i am missing something and it’s not worth, i missed the train kinda thing. but if it does (and i am pretty sure it will), i will enroll in the second year and keep it as that, no job, not my cosy flat but renting a room somewhere, but much more time to actually give it a proper 100% go.

so let’s see!


COMPUTER GAME Studies _ Term Two_ Task Two: 500 words essay

Task Two:

Submit 500 words essay to show your findings of the advantages and disadvantages of the older and newer technologies and their benefits to their respective societies.


This research area is very broad in its scope. My essay will therefore focus specifically on one aspect, creativity, and how older and newer technologies enabled/or not positive creative growth in the respective societies.

In this sense, I am putting technology in the position of creativity enabler, rather than part of the actual video game concept. My research angle is about how new or old technologies have enabled the creativity of the game concept to grow, to get better, to be supported and enhanced.

And by game concept I don’t just mean the territory in which the idea plays, I also mean the creativity of its storyline/narrative, its design, its mindmap, its character and environment.

For example, one of the very first games to come into commerce – after the first ever Spacewar (1953) – was Pong in 1972 and both its graphic and storyline are incredibly strong but simple: it’s a stick with a square bouncing on it, or if you play in two (which you could, yeah progress!) it’s two sticks at the opposite side of the screen with a square bouncing from one to the other. Because technology was so limited at the time (we just got around having a screen where we could have graphics and sounds, well …beeps), the creativity in this instance uses technology to its best but to its simplest form while thinking outside the box: SIMPLICITY in these first decades is key together with LATERAL THINKING… for example, epiphany was reached for Pong when developers realised they should – and could- make the ball bounce at different angles depending on where it hit the stick (nowadays paddle).

60s and early 70s _  Major player Atari.

After Pong, in the late 70s early 80s, another amazing creativity benchmark was hit when new player Namco invested in its creative talent with a total free mind and hired Toru Iwatani, an artist, puppeteer, designer and self-taught nerd all at the same time, and in 1980 released PacMan, a cute ball that munches its way through anything and everything. The development of PacMan by Namco was initiated, in the brainstorming (that is what legend says) by thinking Japanese women’s market and one of its major insights: eating. So the developers (puppeteer/creator/designer/self-thought-nerd included) apparently went out, ordered a pizza, took a slice off and there was PacMan! Ah, creativity at its best.

In 1985’s came the big hit from Nintendo, Super Mario Bros, which was so successful because the creative key that pushed the entertainment value so high was very simple and again a direct consequence of out-of-the-box thinking: in the narrative the character is someone with whom the player can identify. And again, the creativity in the aesthetic make the graphic super simple but incredibly effective: because of the limited number of pixels available, designers pushed harsh colours, red top, blue dungarees, a hat (to avoid the details of a hairstyle) and a moustache (to avoid again the details of a mouth).

One additional creative point in this decade was the breakthrough in the fact that games could not only be action based but also exploration based: in 1986 we have the release of first major success of this kind, The legend of Zelda, always by Nintendo, major player of this decade.

In the early 90’s Sega launched MegaDrive and another massive hit came to the video gaming industry: Sonic the Hedgehog was born in 1991. And again, incredibly simple but immensely effective graphics, a strong INSIGHT INTO CONSUMERS – at the mo. grunge generation- videogame becoming a form of youth expression and creativity still working at its best to deliver something amazing with very little tools.

Up until this point, is for me, the most satisfying era of video games-creativity specifically in respect to my angel of research: up until now video games were solely RELEVANT to the end consumer.

After this point in time, creativity becomes more about realistic aesthetics and customisation. From the early 90’s onwards, as technologies advanced and became more sophisticated, with faster processors, motion graphic etc, giving 100 times more options in graphic, coding, developing etc., the emphasis dramatically – and sadly – shifted towards hyperrealism.

From the 90’s onwards the advantages of the technology in relation to creativity can be seen much more in elements like the narrative ego-referred COMPLEXITY, the use of heroes (who doesn’t want to be a hero for once), on a quest (I as game player, am not only a hero but a brave adventurer), as an entity having control (and I have control of my powers), first person point of view gaming known as God games (and to my actions there are immediate consequences). Secondly, the advent to the mass market of INTERNET means that the multi-player mode becomes possible, with players connecting all over the world. Thirdly, three-dimensional-3D graphics and easier accessibility to MOTION-CAPTURE mean the aesthetics can be much more complex and open to immense possibilities, as the characters in the game become more and more proper virtual puppets one can give life to.

Not only this but two other major player in these two latest decades have massively impacted on the sense, vision, motive behind video gaming and its industry. The CINEMA industry with Hollywood and MILITARY investments have made it possible for the gaming industry to dive even more into these new but incredibly expensive technologies of 3d and motion capture and has massively grown as well thanks to these two players. Think just of all the military and movie games out and about financed by the two players above. What a great news

But is it? At what price? Has creativity blossomed since all this money has been poured in? Since these two massive personas have put their ego into the video gaming world have consumers discovered something relevant to them? Unfortunately I don’t think so, I really don’t and it makes me sad to thin k we don’t even see it.

From the 90’s onwards all the elements mentioned above make the gaming industry of much more interest to the government, so much so, that if one looks at the games now, most of them are actually training tools for military operatives or career, that is why so many are about war and fighting (let’s teach war hey) or strategy (let’s teach management hey). This is what, for me is the disadvantage of modern technology, the creativity has decreased in direct proportion to the technological advances.

Investment from both the military and Hollywood while in the short term might well drive creativity, in the long term it drives progress only, and it seems to move away from fantasy towards realism and simulation for the purposes of training: their interest does not lie in producing a product that consumers will be hooked to because RELEVANT to them but a product packaged to attract them but actually not relevant to the consumer in the sense that it does not make them grow, express, use this tool to progress and it does not play on a consumer need, basically, but a government need or a corporate need.so let’s break this horrible pattern and come up with more non-realistic, out of the norm, into the deep emotions insights and games again. Think about it, we have 3d… why are we copying reality? Why are we not doing crazy things? Think motion capture… why are we using humans instead of real puppets, why do we constrain ourselves to the law of physics for humans? For example we can have elbows that bend both ways with a puppet, not with a human, why are we not doing that, why are we not thinking so simply out of the box?

COMPUTER GAME Studies _ Term Two _ Task One: Moodboard

MADE IN TEH 70S.jpgTask 1: Research, create and design a mood board which embodies a
chosen decade within gaming and society.

My chosen decade is the 70’s as I am a 1975 born kid so i thought i’d be romantic. Also, the 70’s represent a massive step in the gaming industry and historically of course they are the years of the rebuild after war, the idea that there can be entertainment and the acceptance of entertainment in life of people again is a massive anthropological and sociological change consequence directly of the two wars our parents and grandparents had to fight. As a woman more then so, the 70’s represent also a massive emancipation for women in that there is a strong feminist movement that brings women slightly up on the patriarchal ladder and incredibly so, in the computer gaming industry, women are a massive start and finance of that for the fact that with the first games like pong, women were actually better then men at playing!

This is mainly why my 70’s board is about colours, women’s presence, mass market accessibility of technology and input devices as these feel to me like the main elements of the 70’s social-gaming life:

  1. the evolution from war to rebuild and the hope that comes with it; the idea to be able to entertain yourself with war games
  2. the evolution from computer for military purposes to computer for entertainment purposes
  3. the evolution of technology from individual focused to family/group focus
  4. the evolution from game made from men to men to game made from men (yeah that didn’t change yet) to men AND women






Task 3:

• Propose and sketch out 2 ideas for a game for which
you will develop an interface
• Gather feedback and justify which one of the 2 designs
you will develop further
• Design and build a visual approach of a computer
game based on the tutorials practiced in class (this
should be presented in a storyboard format)



idea 1 galaxyDiscover

idea2 galaxyExpress




the WINNING idea:

the galaXeXpress










3D MODELLING for Computer Gaming Still Life 3D


First i use the CREATE a SHAPE/ LINE tool to draw the profile then to create the object out of a line/profile i add a LATHE modifier (same done for chandelier, bowl, table and bottle).

How from the vertex  I got to the actual profile: one can easily modify the vertexes in compliance with the object, by right clicking on the selected object one gets all the possible options like move, transform, rotate, smooth etc.: using the SMOOTH or the CORNER tools to characterise the vertexes (is it rounded or edged) and using other comands like MOVE or ROTATE   to create a final profile.

bottle hist

to smooth the corners i use the smooth tool on right click

on LATHE i accessed the axes to translate and complete the form.

before adding the lathe i went to HIERARCHY – AFFECT PIVOTS ONLY – so that when i added lathe, i didn’t have to change the axes.

i also increased the segment to set a smoother shape and to add internal shades i added SHELL modifier and lingered with Inner and Outer Amount.

To add texture in MATERIAL EDITOR i used a RAYTRACE texture ’cause it calculates transparency and light better then other textures. I then altered transparency and light to give it a glass look and set specular and glossiness to get highlights.

the only additional thing tat makes the bottle slightly more complicated then the class it is that it has a label and therefore i had to create TWO SEPARATE LAYERS later GROUPED. basically polygons had to be selected and given their own ID.

the first is a screenshot to show the polygon selection but is not representative of final bottle, which is the one on the right.


in MATERIAL EDITOR, go to MULTI SUB OBJ and there set the number of materials and layers related to that object


got the first draft of table with still life on but no textures or lights or final finish yet, it’s a start!

the basic room

as said it’s about creating box or sphere or line -glass and bottle – extruding the polygon to get the width. the window and walls are AEC extended wall rather then standard object creation. the windows are linked in create to the wall and they form just one object.

here i have added the sub-object material to the window, one for the wood and one for the glass (raytrace). SUB-OBJECT command allows you to put more then one material on one object.


the table is just a plane object with a standard map. so i created a plane. in order to be able to accommodate the complexity of the form (the cloth with its folds) i made more segments for the mesh and the folds. i then used a CLOTH SIMULATOR (modifier, cloth, simulate) and gravity to get the cloth to physically drop on the table which becomes the COLLISION OBJECT.

cloth addition and textures understanding


To give a realistic feel of an open window (even if ever so slightly) i had to think about curtain, their group (are they grouped to anything, do they need to), whether they are independent or hierarchical objects and if so, what do they depend from. so as you can see, the curtains are hooked to a wind angle that is set outside of the room.



first of all i had to find web reference images for the apple, the banana and the oranges. i imported those images into the 3dsmax file and created shapes with the same ratio.

for the banana i started by going into STANDARD PRIMITIVES and created a cylinder there with high of 1 and sides of 5.

the process used to make the banana is EDGE MODELLING; convert the object to EDITABLE POLY, delete the top face (so i can access the edges of the object and select them), transformed vertexes to comply to reference image. i had to also select and extrude for the banana a polygon to represent the stem. i gave it a ID2 to accommodate the subobject.


i used the SUBDIV MODIFIER to smooth and make the object more realistic. pretty much same has been done for orange and apples.

for the apple specifically i used a box as a primitive shape to start from and for the orange specifically i had to add bumps to the texture to make that ‘cellulite-like’ look.


Apart from the fruits, most objects are made in the same way,, by creative a line profile in create and then by modifying the poligons to make them editable, lathe them and smooth them.

only once you add the textures these objects actually acquire relevance and realism.

as i mentioned before i used SUBD UV-mapping and fiddled with the ANGLES to place them right for the object. for example the planks of the floor need to follow the lines horizontally, the skirting board plank was made CROPPING an image of three planks, the leaf for the apple is not a typical apple leaf but a leaf that i turned around to make it follow the grains of an apple leaf.

for the floor planks, again after turning them the right was to fit with the room layout i added also a bump map to give a sense of the wholes that naturally would occur between wooden planks.



one camera and one spotlight is what i have worked on in this section

first i set the camera ANGLE and its light


then i played a bit with LIGHT colours and shadows and warmth, like if i were doing a flame correction of a video. i loved it. the final RENDERING gave it the smooth and realistic look you can see with a proper focus and objects definition.

render final

lightinhcolour flamecorrection

then i played a bit more with camera angles and lights by ADDING a CAMERA2 and LIGHT2, but i didn’t have them both on in the final rendering, just one at a time to see the different effects.

here you can see my CAMERA 2 LIGHT 2 trial of rendering.

if i had more time i would have loved to play more with the camera angles, lights and ‘flame’ effects.

here is the FINAL RENDERING with CAM1LIGHT1 on with two different aspect ratio, second one works better as it gives more to the camera and the viewer.

3dstilllife C13dstilllife C1 b