Category Archives: art

Virtual Factory Farming

In Minecraft, players kill the cows, chickens, and pigs wandering the landscape and cook the dropped meat for food. Generating more food more efficiently has led many players to create automated farms with hundreds of virtual animals in enclosed spaces, bred only to be immediately killed to satisfy the player’s craving for a whole lot of pork.

I have no problem with these ‘virtual factory farms’ because they obviously don’t cause any pain to real animals. Also, like everything else in Minecraft, the animals are just another resourse for the player to use for him/herself. Each cubical cow looks and acts the same as the next. But it is surprising how accurately these virtual contraptions reflect the way we farm actual animals in real life (minus the minecarts).

“The Truth of Masks”: How to Describe Characters

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Wilde brings up the idea that the costumes and mannerisms of an actor “get[s] rid of any necessity for tedious descriptions” of their character. A play has the advantage of immediately depicting unfamiliar apparel and weaponry from a particular time and place. (It’s easier to get a sense of a 16th century clothing through a costume than through a lengthy written description of doublets and mandilions.) More importantly, the expression and demeanor of an actor serve to visually describe the character to the audience.

However, this is not unique to plays. Comic strips and graphic novels also show a character’s physical appearance while simultaneously revealing his/her personality within the action of the story itself. This can be used to great effect when the imagery in a comic contrasts or calls into question the meaning of the text.

Screenshots from Up and Coming Indie Game

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Ever dreamed of creating your own video game based on the world you created in your own novel? Thomas Lum, college student and aspiring cognitive/computer science major is spending the summer doing just that. These are screenshots from his summer project so far. Hear what he has to say and get inspired by listening to the first episode of “How to Spend Your Summer.”

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How to Spend your Summer/Podcast

After the chaos and excitement of freshman year, summertime seems to be a welcome change of pace. But loads of free time make me wonder about who I am outside of the structure of school, family obligations and work. Like many other bored college students, I want to do something fulfilling, exciting, fun, and worthwhile, but struggle to find the inspiration or motivation to start. Today I talked with a close friend who knows how to follow through his ideas with incredible results.
Tom Lum is a college student studying computer and cognitive science. This summer, he spends his time creating and coding his own indie computer game inspired in part by his novel, Gear. We discuss the influences of Nidhogg, The Stanley Parable, Super Smash Bros, and Hotline Miami on Tom’s project as well as the “artisnal” quality of indie games today.

For more information about Tom’s creative work (including music, movies, and more), visit http://www.thatbookbytom.com.

Interview Highlights:

On the process of making a video game:

“The coolest part about coding a game from the ground up is that you really can do anything, and at first that’s…the biggest problem… ’cause you can do anything.”

“It’s one of the longest, in terms of projects…like, a movie is great because you can really see the progress of it, a book is good, because…you can show someone a chapter of it. Music is perfect, because you can just show someone a song…that doesn’t take that long. Video games are really just a long-term effort…I get to show it to people a bit, but it’s going to be a long term thing…but, because of that, there’ll hopefully be a good reward.”

On breaking the video game “mold” and indie games today:

“There’s so much of an established basis of what to expect, that it’s really fun and really exciting to get something new…that’s what I would love to do.”

“In the flash game era, games were really just a boredom reducer…whereas [now] they’re really starting to go back to being an “art form”…something that someone makes.”

Follow FrankPhilosophy on WordPress, Tumblr, or SoundCloud for more stories about innovative, awesome summer projects!

march 16: Can you have an epiphany every day?

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Is it possible to have a mini-epiphany every day? A sudden insight into yourself and the world which never occurred to you before? If so, can all these little realizations ever accumulate into a finished, final understanding of the world, or do they just approach infinity? If one hundred million is just as close to infinity as one, can a multitude of mini-epiphanies bear any significant weight on your worldview?

march 14: Henry Darger

The Realms of the Unreal, Jessica Yu, 2004

Scott McCloud warns against the “backstory trap” in his book, Making Comics (122). This is the pitfall new writers can fall into when they create elaborate histories behind every character. McCloud mentions Henry Darger as a cautionary tale, but there’s a lot more to him than just a hermit novelist/artist “add[ding compulsively to the backstories of characters no one will ever see” (McCloud, 122). If you have time, check out this documentary-I highly recommend it if you still have some time to procrastinate on homework this vacation!

march 12: Reflective writing, WordPress prompt, and hump day

I woke up in a bad mental mood this morning, feeling stressed and worried about stuff going on. Before going to the hairdresser’s with my mom, I grabbed my sketchbook and pen. In the waiting room, I doodled the shiny black heels and red hairdo of one of the stylists, then began to write. I instinctively undervalue reflective writing because it’s not like I can use it as a writing sample on a resume, or use it to practice essay-writing skillz for academia, but it’s definitely the type of writing I’ve done the most (discounting school assignments). It’s usually very personal, so I’m not comfortable sharing it, and it’s honest, so it’s not necessarily flattering for me xD. I wrote about a moment that seemed to be the root of a lot of anxiety, missing description and analysis as different parts of the memory came to mind. I realized that the moment itself didn’t bother as much as all the worries it triggered. When the hairdresser called me up, I had learned a bit more about myself. It was a mini-epiphany!

I wonder if reflective writing and an analysis paper based on personal experience are the same thing? I think reflective writing is more free-writing that isn’t necessarily edited into a final product and shared. One stems from the other.

But some days I just wake up in a bad mood, which (like most things) doesn’t last forever.

I recommend recalling something that brings a lot of emotional baggage when it visits your mind, and writing about it. I also recommend eating tortilla chips with marinara sauce and playing chess with someone for fun.

Lastly, it’s Wednesday! Midway through vacation. I’m learning html, I played a game of chess with my dad, and I hung out with my mom.

march 11th: Co-mix, toys, and a walk in the park

I finally visited the Art Spiegelman retrospective exhibit at the Jewish Museum! I read MAUS twice, first for myself and then for class the next year, but I recognized Spiegelman’s New Yorker covers before I knew he was the artist.

The exhibit was really thought-provoking! Here are some thoughts:

There is so much artistic skill (both technical and…creative? intellectual? imaginative?) involved in creating comix. I thought that MAUS must have been extremely laborious (it took 13 years!), but I also thought there was some secret, some technique or shortcut I didn’t know about that made it look so complex without taking so much effort. I was so wrong! There were rows of drafts for each page and tons of sketches to perfect one tiny mouse paw, and those were only a selection of the entire process.

This is true even of comix with simplistic art. Have you tried drawing Calvin and Hobbes? It’s hard! Somehow each of Bill Watterson’s pen strokes tells the specific position of Calvin’s leg or Hobbes’ arm.

Basically, i’m saying that a comix artist doesn’t just draw some lines and call it a day. They draw a lot of lines, then cut them down to capture the essence of their drawing.