Artwork 3: Intervention (Transmascreality)

My intervention project was inspired heavily by guerilla street projections featured in the tactical media documentary screened in class. The scale and inherent impermanence/non-criminalizing aspect of the intervention specifically appealed to me. I didn’t feel comfortable or safe involving my body in an intervention so the relative anonymity was also attractive.

Recently I’ve been very focused on bringing attention to the realities of transmasculine discrimination and oppression. I’m very frustrated by the fact that little people seem to understand our experiences or acknowledge our specific oppression. Throwing up a huge projection about those experiences for all to see felt like a good way to channel that frustration.

I wanted to use text that could be easily read and digested, so I took statistics from the 2015 and 2011 Trans Equality Reports, as well as some general truths and imperatives pertaining to transmasculine people. They are as followed:


I planned to laser cut the text and place it on a LED light box to project, so I created the designs in Adobe Illustrator with a laser cut-friendly font. I didn’t realize that the resulting image would not be magnified or projected strongly enough to be seen on a building (or at all, really). After running into that roadblock, I decided to utilize a projector, and edited my designs accordingly. I filled in the text and converted them into a PDF that I could blow up on my screen and click through.

I had trouble finding a room in Northeastern that was open at night and also had a big window that could be fully opened. I ended up testing the intervention in Kariotis. Only the top half of the window in the classroom opened, and it was not feasible to point the projector out of it. The projector could not project the image through window glass, either. I improvised by projecting the text across the room from the window, so it was clearly visible to anyone outside the window.

At home in Mission Hill, I attempted my initial idea. It worked to an extent, but because of the window screen on my window, the image was dimmed considerably.


I didn’t get any candid interaction (that I noticed) with the projections because it was late on finals week/late in Mission Hill.

At one point, while going outside to take photos, I found myself locked out of the building, and while that was really frustrating because all of my things were inside, it made me think about the prospect of having the projection as a running installation this way.

If I was to do the intervention again, I would secure a room for a day (or a night, depending on whether  the projection is sufficiently visible at day), possibly locking it from the inside, and set up the projector and laptop. I would edit the designs into a looping GIF that clicked through each of the designs at a readable pace. I might choose a higher traffic area if I could one with a window with such high visibility from the ground.

I’m very happy with what I’ve made and would love to run it again. I think with the proper circumstances and resources I could do similar in scale to the tactical media projections with my designs!

Artwork 4: Boys Don’t Cry: A Transmasculine Simulator

My final project was a Twine game that simulated the experience of living one day as a transmasculine individual.

Following my last project’s subject on the reality of transmasculine life, I wanted to create a more personal and in depth experience relating to transmasculine life. After recently experiencing discrimination and microaggression at school and work, and experiencing so many non-transmascs making assumptions about what experiences or privileges we allegedly experience, I felt compelled to show what life was truly like for us.

I felt like it adequately fit the assignment and previous readings. I can’t think of a better way to emulate “experience” than to contain a huge part of what informs my life experience for others to experience.

I was originally thinking of this as a visual novels with characters, but I decided to frame it as more as a simulator to keep it personal. I was vaguely inspired by The Sims, which I’ve been playing recently. I was mostly just inspired by the concept of simulation games in general rather than The Sims itself (especially considering that when I play the Sims, it’s very character based).

I started out my game by listing certain concepts that I wanted to express in my games. Some notes include:

  • “Trans men who transition later have spent their lives on the receiving end of a lot of gendered discrimination and abuse and violence; and then suddenly found ourselves not only cut off from support for that trauma, but implicitly associated with its perpetrators.” – jay edidin
  • others tend to believe that trans men have access to male privilege simply because they are men, ignoring the fact that society mostly sees them as women and they have been or currently are treated as women/experienced misogyny
  • non-transmasculine trans people often alienate transmasculine people by associating transness as inherently anti-man/anti-masculinity
  • transmasculine peoples’ views on transness and gender and oppression are put on the back burner because of their maleness and the association of transmasculinity with cis masculinity and patriarchy
  • trans men are viewed either consciously or unconsciously as gender traitors, and this is especially seen with the perpetuation of the idea that they should be relinquishing their claim to their experiences with misogyny and gender-based discrimination

From there, I began to outline a story, and then separate that into multiple possible stories defined by choices.

Halfway through that outlining, I decided to go ahead and transfer it to Twine, and wrote the rest within the program.

In my first iteration, I ran out of time to create an alternate line of story depending on whether you wore a binder, but I remedied that in my second iteration.

If I were to create another iteration, I would create more experiences within the day or expand the world of the game. I initially wanted to include interactions with different kinds of trans men going through different things, with options to find out more about them and their experiences (i.e. feminine trans men, nonbinary trans men, trans men suffering from toxic masculinity and gender roles, etcetera) as well as transmasculine interaction with other trans people (negative and positive interaction between trans men and women was something i wanted to touch on because i’ve seen such polarizing behavior between us).

Gameplay wise, I received feedback about problems in the game re: options not being clickable and text showing up multiple times. I would definitely proofread it more and do more debugging to make sure everything runs smoothly. I feel like I could have organized the game in Twine a lot more cleanly so it wouldn’t have been so confusing and easy to mess up with.

play here

Appropriation Project – Score

My score was inspired by the disjointed and wandering progression of Yoko Ono’s scores in her book Grapefruit, the similarly disjointed and wandering of my own mind. The score is supposed to emulate the way my ADD causes my mind to regularly repeat, fail, and stall as I try to complete both simple and complex tasks. Yoko Ono’s scores reminded me of that process because of its often abrupt changes in direction and tone, as well as its occasional repetition and abstract directions.

Another component that inspired me was how Ono’s scores didn’t always have conclusions, and when they did, they were  either abstract or ambiguous. Those vague endings related to the cyclical concept I wanted to put into my score, so I decided to end my score in such a way that the ending was open-ended and also ambiguous enough that the score could just be read over and over (almost) seamlessly.

I was also in part inspired by Jeanann Verlee’s poem “Good Girl”, specifically the portion that reads:

Every morning I sit at the kitchen table over a tall glass of water swallowing pills. […] (So I remember the laundry.) (So I remember to call.) (So I remember the name of each pill.) (So I remember the name of each sickness.)

It is a very good representation of the uses of medication and by extension a representation of the simple things that can be lost or forgotten through illness.

Sit down

Take out a piece of paper

Look up at the ceiling

Take out another piece of paper

Stare at the paper

Stand up and walk back and forth

Think about the paper


Throw away both papers

Sit down

Think about crying

Take out another piece of paper

Throw away the paper

Sit down


Show and Tell #1: Appropriation

I brought in memes for my appropriation show and tell – specifically Twitter memes that mix text describing relatable scenarios or cultural narratives with seemingly unrelated videos as examples or reactions.

I really enjoy these memes because of the endless possibilities of humor and weirdness that it opens up. This meme/reaction video in particular has been used in SO many tweets, it’s incredibly versatile.

I also love this one because it speaks to the usage of cultural narratives with this phenomena and also ascribing funny context-less videos with a Bible story which is one of the most universal mythos in our society.

This one is also Very Choice because both the text and video are varying levels of absurd/bizarre but it is also very relatable?? Lots of these memes mix absurdism and hyperbole with relatable, everyday things (the first thing that comes to mind when I think about that version in particular is those tweets with a video of explosions or someone being electrocuted that are captioned “that first sip of McDonalds Sprite”.)

This one is somewhat derivative of this kind of meme because the video has been edited to serve the purpose of the tweet but still uses a video ripped from it’s context (and therefore still gives off the same feeling as the others). It’s also an example of the “relatable scenario” component of the meme.

Honestly this meme trend and weird or hyperbolic videos as relatable content in general are (in my opinion) so much more relatable than earlier memes that are essentially “That feeling when you go to school (pic of grumpy cat)”. A lot of Millennial/Generation Z humor and culture is centered around hyperbole, absurdism, and appropriating media content – so it’s not surprising that it’s so popular online.

Artwork #2 & Appropriation Game – Erik Ojo

I initially began my game with the premise of translating fanfiction, a popular and often created transformative work, into a visual novel. My idea was to take a popular franchise, mix it with a popular fanfiction trope to create an entirely new world, and create a VN from that.

I wanted to create a VN with a choice of three different tropes:

  • a coffee shop AU (an extremely popular alternate universe trope putting characters in the setting of a coffee shop/cafe, as either workers or customers)
  • a historical AU (putting characters in another time period, such as Ancient Greece or Rome, Victorian era, the 1920s, etc)
  • a science fiction AU (putting characters in a science fiction storyline – usually when the original story is not science fiction, or at least not the specific type of science fiction the fanfiction is set in)

The franchise that I chose to transform was the X-Men franchise, as I’m extremely familiar with it and it’s fanbase, and it’s a relatively well known property.

I planned to begin to write the VN in a Google document, and then transfer it to Twine, and if I had time, code it into Ren’py.

The first pitfall I came across was creating interesting stories for each of these worlds that work properly as VNs. In a way, I am attempting to write fanfiction – something that takes a good while to properly formulate and write out, just like any kind of fiction. I had trouble coming up with proper stories as the inspiration wasn’t quite there, and I was working off the idea of tropes rather than first having a core theme, and centering the trope around that theme. Writing it became more involved than I could realistically handle in the time I had, and I felt that it was becoming more about creating a world than about the concept of appropriation.

(Which in a way fanfiction is? I guess it’s logical that fanfiction itself is less about the concept of appropriation than the act of appropriation?)

The second pitfall, was that I was having a hard time making my game into a game rather than a story you click. I want to engage the players through choices that matter, but reflecting on it, fanfiction isn’t really about power of onlookers, it’s about the author’s power to do whatever they like with the characters they’ve chosen.

(I had a conversation with our guest about choices and how some developers put them there for no reason except for them to be there, and give them no real power in the game. She also mentioned how it’s not always necessary to give players a choice, and told me about VN-esque games that don’t, which made me rethink my game quite a lot.)

I decided I needed to scale down my game, and decided to create an analog game instead. I focused instead on giving players the power to change characters and stories in the same way fanfiction gives writers power.

I decided to use the Marvel Cinematic Universe instead of X-Men, because just about everyone knows it and it has enough high-profile characters for non-repetitive play.

It is a 4 player game.

The basis of the game is

  1. randomly picking a character from a deck of characters
  2. selecting 10 characteristic cards
    1. picking 5 of these characteristics to assign their character
  3. combining these transformed characters with the other players to create one big fanfiction synopsis
    1. synopsis is helped along by drawing 4 random plot cards

For example:

  1. Picks Steve Rogers from a Marvel deck
  2. Characteristics chosen from cards:
    1. works as a security guard
    2. has clinical depression
    3. does ballet on the side
    4. is secretly a vampire
    5. upset about the fact that he peaked in high school
  3. Players pick one plot-themed character action or character development for their character
    1. “your character has some tough lessons to learn”
  4. [depressed security guard vampire Steve Rogers, hipster fashion blogger Bruce Banner, nursing home volunteer social media influencer Natasha Romanoff, and anxiety ridden weed dealer closet furry Tony Stark]
  5. Players pick four cards (one of each kind of plot card) that create a framework for the fanfic
    1. story begins on a yacht (story begins… card)
    2. it’s a story about greed (story is about… card)
    3. a 30-year old murder case is resurrected (plot/inciting incident card)
    4. mostly takes place in the heart of a big city (setting card)
  6. and the players take it from there.
    1. (excerpt of a synopsis example: one of the senior citizens Natasha has taken care of is Nick Fury and everyone thinks Steve is the one who killed all those people because he’s an vampire with murderous impulses and was in the wrong place at the wrong time but it was actually Tony Stark’s (dead) dad and Nick Fury working in cahoots)

This is inspired in part by crack/crack-esque fanfiction

“Crackfic” is a term for a story which takes a ridiculous premise as its starting point, such as casting all the canon characters as My Little Ponies. It may or may not deal with this premise in a serious way. (Fanlore)

which is usually of questionable quality and very random, but can also be the basis of extremely interesting works with a lot of depth. There is a lot of fanfiction with generally weird premises that is like War and Peace in some fandoms.

It is also inspired in part by collaboratively written fanfic. Fanfiction writers (and fan artists) often team up to write and set up events to facilitate this as well (see: Big Bangs, holiday fic exchanges, etc)

And it is inspired also, by Cards Against Humanity. The random matching and player engagement bits.

Thoughts after playtesting:

  • Players keeping character roles concealed from other players could improve play and more surprising for other characters
  • Reducing the amount of cards on the table at once could help stop the game from becoming too complicated/confusing
  • Adding an “ending” card would help reduce gameplay difficulty/increase game cohesiveness
  • Less plot cards could help reduce the gameplay difficulty