clark, peter and joey: a word game

by | Oct 12, 2016 | Artwork #2: Appropriate, Projects

Originally, I wanted to create an appropriated game about gender, trope reversal, & subversion. Unfortunately, due to time constraints & a lack of materials at Target, I had to alter my idea!

I bought up a couple of children’s books– “Clark the Shark” by Bruce Hale, “Rubble to the Rescue” by Kristen Depken, “The Poky Little Puppy” by Janette Sebring Lowrey, & “Pinkalicious & Planet Pink” by Victoria Kann. Then, I gave a book to two of my friends & asked them to cut out words & sentence fragments. We divided up the work until all of the books were effectively stripped of everything that made them books in the first place, & we soon had a pile of words & phrases.

My intention was to create a sort of found poetry engine, allowing two or more players to work together to create something artistic & meaningful out of children’s literature, which is often overlooked.

Little did I know that my friends had put their own spin on things by focusing on words or phrases that seemed adult in nature. They even cut up certain words to CREATE vulgar fragments! For example, multiple instances of “class” or “grass” were turned into “ass.”

I didn’t protest, because if anything, this only added to the appropriation of the piece. They appropriated my idea.

SO…I changed the rules of the game! This game takes two players. They compete to create a sentence that will make the other player break face– sort of like a childhood game I used to play called Old Stone Face. All you have to do is get your opponent to smile, sputter, laugh, or otherwise show emotion!

The game is called Clark, Peter, & Joey because those are the only names we could find within the books chosen.

For the final play test I intend to go out & buy more books to cut up, & possibly organize the words & phrases so that they’re easier to sort through.

I did two playtests– one with friends, & one in class. Content Warning for occasional vulgarities.

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I changed a couple of things for this round. Firstly, I gave each player their own pile of words, which made the task of sorting through them much easier. Secondly, I finalized the rules:

-Two players compete over three rounds. Players each create a sentence using their word pile & take turns reading their creation to their opponent. The player who gets the bigger reaction out of their opponent gets a point that round. If both players are in stitches, each player gets a point. Words used in a sentence may not be recycled. They are removed from the pile for the remainder of the game.

ADDITIONALLY, Since most players take an “adult humor” type of route in this game, I advised players against creating sentences that implied a lack of consent. I do not want my game being used in that manner.

Here are some priceless reactions & interesting sentences created. Once again, there’s a content warning for adult humor.

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My piece, called Clark, Peter, & Joey: A Word Game, was pretty distinctly different from my balloon piece last time. Conceptually, my piece changed a lot from initial creation to its final iteration. I began wanting to create something in a similar vein to my last work- something that had a lot of personal meaning to me, something deeply self-reflective, something with a message. Unfortunately, a lot of that fell through as soon as I realized that I couldn’t afford to purchase the materials I envisioned for this kind of piece. So I had to adapt on the spot, which in my opinion, sort of fit the spirit of appropriation & happenings. My game began to take shape in my head– a found poetry engine, inspired by the likes of Dada collagists. I wanted to subvert the everyday, subvert the childishness of the children’s books that I was about to tear apart. I wanted to surprise the player with the beauty & elegance they could create with only simple words. However, I was the one who ended up getting surprised.

I enlisted the help of my friends for cutting up the books, & quickly my game became filled with “ass” & “daddy” pieces. In a way, they appropriated my game as much as I appropriated those books in the beginning. And we certainly achieved some sort of subversion– maybe not the kind I really wanted, but subversion nonetheless. While Dada artists subverted the imagery & everyday media of the bourgeoisie with their collages, my players subvert the innocence & simplicity of children’s books. Clearly, one is on a much greater & more valuable scale, but I don’t think that my game in invaluable. One interesting intersection in my game where I found the chance to insert my own political & moral views was on the off chance that someone create a sentence that seemed to imply a lack of consent– instead of letting this type of sentence get played, we talked about why it crossed a line. It was no longer funny adult humor, but instead a very icky & malicious perpetuation of a culture that disregards victim’s stories. I am all for games like Cards Against Humanity, &, I suppose, my game as well, so long as they remain receptive to removing aspects of their game that are truly harmful. So, even if my original design intentions changed greatly over the course of the piece, I still think I held onto some of the same values that Dada collagists like Hannah Hoch instilled in her pieces.