Artwork 4: The Pie Baker

The Pie Baker


The intersection of theater and games is something I’ve grown to be very interested in recent years. I had an upbringing around theater so much of my cultural backbone stems from that world. One of my favorite shows ever is Stephen Sondheim’s and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd. I spent a large part of my senior year of high school obsessed with it’s score and thematic elements and it was around this time I asked a question that still plagues me to this day. How do you make a musical into a video game.?

I don’t know the answer. I can’t say I will ever but I’ll keep trying to find out.

So that’s where this game comes in. It’s based off of an idea I had for a Sweeney Todd VR game where in the song “Epiphany” you swing the controllers around rapidly slicing what and who ever is in the way. The idea is that the person playing will emulate the complete insanity of the main character at that point. I had no intentions on adapting that for this project until I read “Discourse Engine’s for Art Mods” where much of the discussion surrounded the mod “Adam Killer.” Reading the piece I drew connections between the art’s description and my own idea so lacking any better idea I decided that I will make something like that for the project.

What came to be the spooky scene was prominently an experimentation with many software programs. Horror can be easily made by just messing with software you don’t fully understand until something uncanny is produced. “What happens if I take off all the hinges on a rag doll? Oh oh wow, oh god.”

The domestic baking outline that exists to hide the dark symbolic slicing scene was made as not only a further adaptation of Sweeney Todd but also as satire on many mobile games. The UI is directly downloaded from the Unity Asset store, this was in effort to make the game look more generic and closer to what I wished to satirize. The main loop of the game is buying meat and wheat and then waiting 20-25 seconds for the pie to bake and be sold. It’s slow, repetitive, completely draining, and with a profit of 1 coin per pie… will take 10 hours until you beat the game. There are two ways of speeding this up. You could purchase gems from the store to buy coins or meat (not implemented because I don’t want your money) or you can visit the cellar and get your coins fro the small price of symbolic murder. Capitalism can be fun!

This is a piece of game art. It’s not made to be fun, but I did want to make the juxtaposition of the colorful kitchen and the spooky cellar funny. It seems that’s how I best deal with my frustrations, make other people laugh at them.

Intervention: Walk Around (Boston)


Take a walk following these rules:

  1. Sidewalk Slalom
    1. Walk down the part of the sidewalk closest to the street, swerving between obstacles
  2. Moving around a bench
    1. If there’s a bench or some other object to the side, walk the wrong way around it
  3. Turn Around
    1. At random points, turn around abruptly
  4. Change Speeds
    1. Without warning, go from a walk to sprint and back
  5. Walk on curbs
    1. If something is above walking level, walk on it
  6. Up and Down
    1. Go down a stairs, and then right back up
  7. In a circle
    1. Walk in a circle around things
  8. Path Less Traveled
    1. Go off the sidewalk in parks and plazas
  9. Hop-chain
    1. When there are barriers with small chains, jump over them
  10. Walk Everywhere
    1. Walk to a dead end or secluded alley and back.

Walking Path:

Sidewalk Slalom:


Plaza Walks:




Other videos:


Artist Statement:

Above all other influences: I just wanted to take a walk. It’s a relaxing experience to explore somewhere without a goal. Before you leave Boston get some long walks in. (That goes for everyone reading this) Okay so the inspiration for the medium was my own desires, but how did I put it together?

There might have been a time in life where I wouldn’t consider a walk through a city a valid form of art, but that was long ago. More recently there was a time where I would not feel confident enough that a walk I would do could potentially be considered arts. I have to thank our good friend R.Mutt for that confidence, because his Fountain has showed that anything can be art as long as someone thinks it’s art. There’s something about the absurdist of Dadaist art that connects to the absurdism I was trying to create. Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven certainly encapsulates more than me the absurdist public performative nature I was trying to encapsulate.

Of course wherever Dada goes Fluxus will soon follow, and Fluxus was a larger inspiration for me. If R.Mutt proved that anything can be art Allison Knowles and her dedication to the Tuna Sandwich showed us what anything as art really means. Going for a walk, eating a sandwich, making a salad are all pedestrian activities that Fluxus artists worked in throughout the movements history. This piece also comes with a score, which is certainty inspired by those of Ono. I mentioned Map Piece in my last write up but it’s even more relevant here. The work is a walk following an imaginary map; I continue to walk that path.

The final major inspiration  (although if I would have done further research into the Situationists before going on the walk it might not have been the final paragraph) were performance artists. While my walk was not as impressive or interesting as walking across the Great Wall of China it was still inspired by Marina Abromovic and Ulay’s Lovers. That piece was the first time I learned of a walk that was also a work of art. The goal of my walk was much more inspired by a Monty Python sketch then a 3 month spiritual journey of two collaborators and ex-lovers, but it remains in the same medium.

Oh and yes, here are the two (1, 2) most influential Monty Python sketches. Not just on my walk, but on my life.

Adventure to Unusual Articles

3-10 players
10 – 40 minutes

Play Rules:

  • Have everyone start at a completely random Wikipedia article. This can be done through this link
  • Choose a category in Wikipedia’s list of unusual articles
  • Have everyone choose an article within the category. This a your goal page. This is the page you want to move towards. This is to be kept secret.
  • Whoever got to the random page gets to be the first leader
  • Everyone else chooses a link they want to go through and offers it to the leader
  • The leader chooses a link from those offered by the other players
  • Everyone goes through the chosen link and whoever offered the link becomes the new leader

How to Win:

  • If you come to a page that links to your goal page, you win!

Optionally Tabletop-RPGesque Elements (for fun and profit):

Begin the game by having each player choose a person and place. (They must have a Wikipedia page) They will role play as that person and be from that place. The players should use this role as a way of backing up their link decisions. (Example: As Barbra Streisand from the isle of Jersey I think it would be smart if everyone else learned about my role in the film Funny Girl.)


So far 3 playtests have been run of this game. Here is the link history for the three of them:

Hendricks County Flyer Hell,Michigan Anupama Niranjana
North Salem, Indiana Paradise, Michigan Kannada Literature
Population Density Sufjan Stevens 20th Century in literature
Inbreeding Interstate 278 Genre Fiction
Adult Robert Moses Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
Voting Post World War II Economic Boom Metro 2033
No Land! No House! No Vote! Baby Boom Special Edtion
Capetown Birth Control List of Video Game collector and limited items
2004 Summer Olympics Coitus Interruptus PlayStation 4
Jacques Rogge Penis PlayStation 4 System Software
Internet Censorship in China Koro (ran out of time)
Great Firewall
Classified Information
For Official Use Only
Freedom of Information Act

The first play test didn’t use the category rule, so it took a bit longer. On the last playtest we ran out of time so we just saw who could get to their page first.

Here’s the document I used to design the game

Artist Statement:

The initial conception of this game came from a normal visit to Wikipedia. Knowing I had to make an appropriation game (and in some bout of desperation) I established Wikipedia as the medium of choice. A few games have used Wikipedia, the most famous being the almost poetic Wiki Game. That has simple rules: Start on page A, go to page B using links fastest. I adore the wiki game both as a concept and as an actual experience. Any game that uses the internet as its play space like the Wiki Game or GeoGuesser continues to inspire me. It’s from the basic concept of the Wiki Game that this game was appropriated from.

So that’s where the “materials” come from. The conceptual basis of the game is the Exquisite Corpse. The wiki game is an individual race; it can be done alone with no inherit difference in experience. I wanted to make that experience collaborative. Having everyone follow the same links that the group decides to go through changes the dynamics  of moving from A to B in Wikipedia. The mechanic of having every link decision decided by two people is another example of adding collaboration into the game. The effect of this is that the group creates a path instead of an individual. The path through links on Wikipedia might have less artistic merit then a drawing or poem that the Exquisite Corpse used but it’s a creation none the less.

The path that is created playing this game is something of a collaborative montage. Not in the sense of film but in the broader definition that the Berlin Dadaist worked in. A path is a collection of disparate ideas that miraculously have defined connection to each-other by the inherent fact that they are found within a path. The individual articles are just stepping stones to the next one, bereft of meaning beyond a name and a link. That same feeling is remarkably close to Hannah Hoch’s photo-montages that take letters and headlines from newspapers without regard for the totality of the articles. Cut with the kitchen knife is the first piece that came to mind when I though of the game’s product in this way. 3D montages like Grosz’s and Heartfield’s Elektro-mechan or much of the work of Raoul Hausmann is also conceptual similar.

Finally, this work is simple enough to be considered a score. I would be lying if I said that had an effect on the creation of the original game, but when I was simplifying the rules for quicker games the rules became more and more like a score. The game has shocking similarities with Ono’s Map Piece, something about the openness and use of preexisting mediums used in unintended ways lends itself to similarities with Ono’s and Fluxus as a whole… although it was not consciously made.

Crashed Ice (Appropriation Show And Tell)

Link to the slides

Crashed Ice is a combination of Speed Skating and Snow-cross, which in it’s self is a combination of Downhill Skiing and Motocross.

Basically, it’s been 400 years since a fully original sport was created. Crashed Ice is an extreme example of the constant appropriation in sports. No one owns a sport, so everyone can do whatever they want with it*

*If the sport requires a giant frozen obstacle course it might be the case that any company with the rights to the major leagues essentially owns the sport. (Looking at you Redbull)

King Lear (and other Shakespeare Scores)


King Lear:
Find one object of value
…or utter worthlessness
Offer it to a group of people
Tell them only one of them will get it
Close your eyes
Watch the darkness
Let them make their case
Cover your ears
Listen to the thunder
Let them make their case
Give the object to whoever is worthy
Wait for the consequences

Documentation of Score Test:

I do have footage of the first part and sound for the second but it’s good I’m not showing those specifically it’s not high quality stuff.

I also haven’t documented the consequences because I’m still waiting.

Artist Statement:

Shakespeare has been a huge part of my life for a while. My family works in theater, and they have worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for all of my teenage life. Shakespeare plays are to me like the Bible is to many: A text of somewhat profound, often problematic, stories and themes that I use to contextualize and understand culture.

When I encounter a new artistic medium. I create theoretical adaptations of Shakespeare plays suited for that medium. The tragedies, in particular, possess simple themes that can test how a medium best presents emotion. The same thing happened with scores as has happened with party card games and visual novels… the only difference this time is that I had an excuse to make it.

I first heard of scores in some random YouTube video essay on art history a year back. By the time I first saw the syllabus for Experimental Game Design (about a month and a half ago) I kinda knew what this assignment was going to be so I got the idea to make Shakespeare Scores. The only fully fledged idea I’ve had since then was for “Hamlet:”

Spend a year pretending to go insane
Do not go insane

I came up with the rest of the scores after reading Grapefruit so the language and rhythm of those is influenced by Ono’s style. The humor of Grapefruit also stuck around so I wasn’t afraid to make blunt, short, and paradoxical scores.

Romeo and Juliet:
Spend 42 hours pretending to be dead
Don’t tell your loved one’s

One part of Ono’s work, and the entirety of Fluxus, that inspired me to go with a theatrical theme is the Fluxus’ grounding in music. When I see scores, I interpret them as a rule set or a script, not as the score they were inspired from. Music and musical history was referenced throughout Fluxus work but no theater. There was a conductor but no director, an orchestra but no ensemble, a Mozart but no Moliere. I’m more comfortable in theatrical terms… so I did my own scores in a theatrical frame.

There are also games. Specifically for King Lear, being a play about miscommunication, it’s score felt the most like a party game. Many party games are about inhibiting communication so, although not by conscious choice, the King Lear score runs like a game of charades.

One final influence. I mentioned video essays earlier here, but I want to stress how important they are to me. I’ve seen King Lear twice but after the second viewing I would have a hard time explaining what the ideas presented quite were. To get to the one line “King Lear is about miscommunication” I needed to watch this video on a not so faithful adaptation of King Lear. A simple inspiration, but important nonetheless.

Some More Shakespeare Scores:

Julius Caesar
Get 1 million people together
Tell them to find a person named Cinna and kill them
Wait a few minutes
Tell them to not kill anyone, especially you

Put on a production of Othello
Don’t do Act V, Scene II
Play a game of Othello instead

Timon of Athens
Give your money to:
The Arts
The Government
The Poor
Host the largest party for your budget
Your budget is your entire net worth
Notice who is only your friend because of money
Host a party for those people only
Give them rocks to eat
Give everything to nothing
Move to the woods
Find gold
Give the gold to passerbys
Overthrow the government
Die alone

Titus Andronicus
This score was sponsored by the American Association of Meat Processors