Anika Olivo

intransit: Final Project Artist Statement


It’s no secret that I’m fixated on trains, especially subways. I know nothing about the technical aspects; it’s more of an interest in their aesthetics, in the nature of being between destinations combined with the grittiness and the eerie feeling many subway stations have. There’s a quote from the fiction podcast “Alice Isn’t Dead,” written by Joseph Fink, that tends to come to mind: “While it’s you who leaves a place and you who arrives at a place, it isn’t necessarily you in between.” This can be applied literally, of course, but especially metaphorically, in terms of being between phases in life and the constant change someone goes through. It’s that connection between literal and metaphorical liminality that a lot of my work and my inspiration comes from.

This game is extremely personal. I came up with the initial concept when I first started college, moving into a new phase of my life. I didn’t get a chance to work on it until now, and in a way I’m thankful because in the time since its initial conception I’ve learned a lot about transitions and moving through life and making decisions. I feel like this is a work that will never truly be finished because of this constant personal development; hence, it’s unfinished now, because I didn’t want to rush it or force any contrived endings.

There are countless inspirations for this piece. The ones from class include pretty much all of the scores of Yoko Ono and their meditative, mysterious tone. ARGs like the Jejune Institute from the film we watched and even another classmate’s final project inspire me, too, since the nature of those games is to blur the lines between fiction and reality. My work often has to do with morphing reality, even if it’s a purely fictional narrative; I write about impossible things with a root in real experiences, abstracting emotions and events to convey how they feel, rather than the literal. Anything about breaking reality appeals to me, and I’m heavily inspired by works of surrealism and horror. Media that comes to mind along those lines are the SCP Foundation, an online fictional scientific wiki about strange things and places,  and the aforementioned podcast “Alice Isn’t Dead” and other works by the writer, such as “Welcome to Night Vale.” They treat impossible, terrifying, surreal things as normal, mundane happenings. “Alice” specifically is all about using horror as very blunt metaphor for society.

In short, any work that contradicts reality as we know it and/or can serve as an allegory for life inspires me. I tried my best to capture the strange, creepy tone I love in this game while making it very clear it means more than what it’s saying literally. I look forward to developing it further.

Intervention: Library Nap

It’s no surprise that college students are often sleep deprived because of their courseloads. I’ve been under a lot of stress recently and certainly experienced this myself, which is why I wanted to do something related to sleeping, specifically in a studying setting like the library. People fall asleep there often, so I did something that would draw more attention and seem more deliberate; therefore, I tried to recruit multiple people, and had them use pillows and blankets, set up near the entrance where most people would see.

Some of the project was vaguely inspired by the homelessness-related tactical media projects that were presented to us in class, namely the works of Wodiczko and Rakowitz. Though the underlying message differs from mine, it inspired the thought of playing with where people and certain daily activities belong, primarily sleeping. Usually, a single homeless person sleeping on the sidewalk doesn’t attract much attention and blends in; I wanted to put sleeping people in a context where they would be noticed.

Groups of people doing unusual things is fascinating to me, especially the happenings by Kaprow. While mine was less absurd, I was still inspired by his works and the public disruptions he and other Fluxus artists led.

While I wanted it to stand out, I was also wondering how much this intervention would blend in. I wanted to see at what point it does become unusual. I couldn’t get many people for mine, but someone was already sleeping when we arrived, which helped set the scene and almost made it feel more acceptable. The most common reaction would be someone staring as they walked past, or pairs of people staring, whispering something about it to each other, and moving on. The best part, however, happened at the end, when someone who works at the library approached. They stood by for a bit, looking concerned, before kneeling next to one of the participants, watching him, and then approaching me. They first asked if it was “protesting something,” which fascinated me, since in a way, we were, and it was interesting that someone would guess that just from people taking a nap on the floor. I felt like we were going to be asked to leave and we had already been there long enough, so I told them we would be leaving soon.

If I were to do this again, I would experiment with larger groups of people, inviting bystanders over, and/or putting up a sign that acknowledged the people sleeping to make it seem even more deliberate. Interventions generally have a social statement, and I would want to make one about college burnout more clear with other iterations.

Appropriation: Beauty Guru LARP


  • 4-5 players: One running the game (GM), the rest playing
  • Materials: 5 random cosmetic products, which the GM keeps secret until each one is necessary
  • Concept/Goal: Play as a social media beauty influencer and try to advertise a sponsored product the best, using trends and insecurities to win over the “audience” (the GM), who decides whose sell was the best.
  • For prompts, players can use any of the following social media types/personas, but it is not required to stick to one
    • Tutorial; review; prank; vlog; storytime; skit; etc
    • Doesn’t necessarily have to be a “video” format
  • Rules
    • For each round, the GM picks one thing from a list of “insecurities” or can make up their own. They can elaborate on it as much as they want, and make it anywhere between realistic and absurd. These are trends in the hypothetical beauty audience that the players should take advantage of. (List below)
    • The GM then reveals a product from the bag. This is what the players must sell.
      • The insecurity and product DO NOT need to be related; in fact, it is more interesting if they are not.
    • Players can go in any order and can argue and play off of each other, but whoever is speaking MUST be holding the product
    • Players can go for
    • It is up to the GM’s discretion how they judge the players, and who wins. For the rest of the game, the winner of a round holds onto the product as their “point”
  • Insecurities
    • Pore size
    • Acne
    • Skintone
    • Facial hair
    • Hairstyles
    • Hair hygiene
    • Body size

Artist Statement

I’ve always had a lot of opinions about makeup and the culture around it, and those opinions are frequently shifting. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the popularity of influencers and beauty gurus on social media and how they market products to consumers in a more subtle way than traditional advertising. These people portray themselves as friends of their audiences, leading to strong parasocial relationship that can then be exploited; they’re called “influencers” for a reason. I respect their careers, but as a frequent consumer of their content it’s important to remain critical and mindful.

In this piece, I’m appropriating both the physical makeup objects as well as the culture and behaviors of online makeup communities. The interactions between players in the game simulate and parody the more long-term interactions of social media influencers, done over comments and replies and my personal favorite, the “response” video. Influencers are known for their dramatics and the constant feuds and callouts; recently, many have been called out for racist behavior, resulting in video after video of bad apologies and people getting angry. It’s escalated to the point of some social media personalities creating entire Youtube documentary series about a particular issue, fanning the flames as well as perpetuating the drama for entertainment. Not only are they marketing products to us, they’re also marketing that this kind of behavior is okay, and that this is the correct way to deal with it. They make reality television more personal just as they do with marketing.

I was inspired quite a bit by the themes of consumerism in the Dada and Fluxus movements, and thought a lot about how they tried to separate art and artists from their associations as precious, valuable things and people (moreso than others), to no avail. It reminds me of the celebrity reputations of social media stars and how, even if they don’t want to, they must often sell their popularity for a living. I was also inspired by the readymades of the Dada era, especially those of Duchamp, and how they take an object and, by turning it into an art object, render it useless in the original regard. In my game, the makeup products become objects, and it is up to the players to decide what its use is, whether it’s true to reality or absolutely absurd. The point of the game isn’t the makeup, it’s what the players do with it, and how it makes them interact with each other. The original idea for using makeup objects as pieces also came from Takako Saito’s Fluxus chess pieces.

Originally, the game had players take turns, speaking one at a time. However, once playtested, the players began talking over each other and directly responding and arguing with one another. I found this tied into the themes even better and was also more entertaining, so I changed the rules to encourage it.

Appropriation Example: Disneyland Paris and Nars Man Ray

I showed two things: the Disneyland Paris version of Space Mountain, and the Nars x Man Ray makeup collaboration.

Instead of a Tomorrowland in Disneyland Paris, they had a Discoveryland, which was themed after a steampunk future and based on the works of HG Wells and Jules Verne. Space Mountain specifically was themed around Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon. In the queue, guests go through the meeting place of the Baltimore Gun Club and can see their plans for the gun that will launch them into space. The story on the ride is that the guests are aboard the vehicle to be launched. I chose this because it was a very obvious example of direct appropriation, and it ties into my interests in theme park history. Disney is known for its frequent appropriation of other intellectual properties, especially without proper compensation.

The Nars x Man Ray collection was a makeup line from the brand Nars, with artwork and packaging using Man Ray’s works. I chose it because of its use of a Dada artist, tying into our discussions in class. However, the makeup itself doesn’t do much with the Dada inspiration and instead just uses it as an overlay and a tool for selling products, which contrasts with the actual ideas of many Dada artists.

Indie Game: The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo

Full Game / Full Video Playthrough

One of my favorite indie games for a while has been The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo, a horror Twine game by Michael Lutz. In it, you play as a child in the nineties who is going over to a friend’s house for a sleepover; their uncle, who works for Nintendo (hence the title), will be visiting at midnight. Throughout the night, the main character has different memories of playing Nintendo games and their friend acts suspiciously. When the uncle arrives, the player can choose to hide in various places or go and open the door with their friend; no matter what, the uncle takes over the screen with lines of code and “eats” them. The true ending is unlocked after experiencing some of the major endings.


The game explores themes of childhood, nostalgia, and fitting in, as well as how games shape our lives, as described in essays unlocked after completing the true ending. I also love the game because of how it creates a very specific tone using text, simple visuals, and powerful audio. Later in the game, it directly plays with the affordances we typically expect from video games, and ties video game functions (such as saving) and other aspects such as bugs directly into the narrative for the player to take advantage of. The use of game affordances as a narrative tool has always intrigued me, and games that do this have recently been breaking more and more into the mainstream.

Transit Piece

Get on the train, in the direction it will go the furthest

Fall asleep, or space out; lose awareness somehow

Wherever you wake up, get off

If there is a connecting train, get on and repeat

If there is not, choose to continue or exit

Once you leave

Find another way home

Artist Statement:

Trains have always been a point of interest for me, as has the general concept of being in transit. Something about liminal states really resonates with me, especially as someone who’s always felt like I fall in the middle of something, rather than on a specific side. This comes up a lot with my identity, as well as my physical location, notably once I started moving between sides of the country for school. Therefore, I’ve always been drawn to subway stations and have, in the past, taken days to just explore them and find the little details that people tend to miss and the beauty in something very normal and, oftentimes, annoying and unpleasant to people and their everyday lives. Even the aesthetics of them have always appealed to me, particularly the worn down look of a lot of them due to constant use by so many people and the eerie feeling of looking down the tracks or catching a glimpse of something out the window while underground. The theme of dealing with the mundane in the Fluxus movement and in Ono’s work really inspired me and brought this interest back to the forefront of my mind, so I knew I wanted to do something with train stations.

Though I based this piece on subways, specifically the MBTA, it changed quite a bit based on location and type of train. In my context, it was very localized, but in other contexts it could be much more spread out, and perhaps expensive. I would’ve loved to perform this here as well as during my trip to Chicago (which I had never been to before) to explore how it works in a different, unfamiliar setting, but I didn’t have the time. Still, performing it was relaxing, and allowed me to take some time for myself to space out and enjoy the process rather than the end point. This is what stood out to me about scores; they’re more about the steps and the in-between rather than the final product (if there is one), emphasizing the experience, which reminds me a lot of how I view travel.


I started at the orange line in Tufts Medical Center and boarded a train to Oak Grove. I got off at Community College, which has no connections, but I didn’t want to end this soon, so I boarded a train going back in the direction from which I came. I then changed the score to provide the option of getting back on if one wants to. I then got off at North Station and boarded the first green line train that came, which took me to Park Street. From there, I transferred to the red line towards Braintree. I ended at Broadway, where I got out and looked around for a while before walking about an hour home.