Artwork 4: Hyperion (Tallest Tree)

For this last project I made a Twine game. My idea was the ecosystem of a forest, specifically that of the coast redwoods in California. You play as Hyperion, the tallest living tree in the world. There are four stats: erosion, pesticide impact, hydration, and fire risk. They grow each turn depending on which situations are randomly chosen from the links clicked. There is little autonomy, only in the form of in-between turns that reveal more text and heal  one point, which is not enough to make a difference. It plays between the normal mode of a Twine game, which is augmented story-telling, and the mode of games where your choices make a difference and you have to conserve your stats.

I decided to use this mechanic to illustrate the state of a tree: it has some processes it goes through, but it’s helpless in the face of global warming to protect itself. Writing from the point of view of an inanimate object was an interesting exercise in how they would experience things, and a switch from most games which are about the human condition, not the environmental one. (Originally there were background illustrations as well, in the form of foot prints of the animals described, but they looked weird so I got rid of them. I might add them back in as gifs.) It also became a slightly educational game, as I did a lot of research and incorporated those details into the game.

Originally the idea was that no matter what you clicked, nothing you did could change the outcome of you dying. I kept the game mostly the same through my iterations, except I added “surviving the year” as a sort of winning end state; however, if the player decides to live another year, inevitably they’ll die. I also added in the “Breathe” stages to give the player extra interaction and add more prose. I wanted to encourage replayability so that the player would cycle through all the possible disaster options.

My inspiration was many different things. Several different Twine games, including howling dogs by Porpentine, which deals with monotony, and Sentry by David Labelle, where you are in the position of a content moderator doing the same thing each day, and are sometimes inexplicably fired. Also, Romero’s The Mechanic is the Message game Síochán leat with its inevitable unwinnability which was mentioned in Works of Game. I like how the actual gameplay is what tells the story in the style of art games. I have more text than just mechanic, but the helplessness is the same; hopefully, it helps people understand more about the fragile state of the redwoods and calls them to action.

The download link is here. When you download and open it, it should open in your browser:


Indie Game Show and Tell: The House on the Hill

House on the Hill

I don’t play many video games (gasp!), but those I do play are usually browser-based, and a lot are text-based games. One new of my favorite Twine games is The House on the Hill.

At the beginning you choose a character, and then you move through the house using cardinal directions and finding different rooms. You only get a few moves per turn, and depending on which room you end in you find different things. Notably, there is no map, so you have to build a mental image of which rooms lead to which. And you can’t see your stats, but are told when you lose or gain a point in their different categories. During the game, you realize that you are playing as a board game character, along for the ride in a friend group’s game of Betrayal at House on the Hill. After a slow first half, the game accelerates into stopping the betrayer.

I liked this game because of its game-within-a-game qualities, as well as the memorization that made it more challenging than I assume the board game is. It’s fun to play a “multiplayer” game with just myself (which also adds to the horror element being more impactful).

(This game also warrants a mention, for its accuracy above all else:

Intervention: Reserved


Place a piece of paper reading “Reserved” on a table in a dining hall, or other area where seating is open. Wait 20-60 minutes to see what happens.


The first round was in Stetson East. The sign read “Reserved (in large font) for those without backpacks (in smaller font)”. Duration: 60 minutes.

The dining hall wasn’t too busy, but there were enough people that at least 10 came and went over an hour.  Several people looked at it, and one girl with a background touched it, read the small text, and then chose another booth. Everyone sat around the booth it was in.

The second round was also in Steast. The sign read “Reserved for those wearing Husky gear”. Duration: 30 minutes.

I chose a busier time to see if desperation for seating would make people more willing to disregard the sign. The same thing happened, with no one sitting there. However, the different this round was that when I looked up the sign was gone; someone had taken it.

The third round was in International Village. The sign read “Reserved for a couple.” Duration: 30 minutes.

Several people gave the sign strange looks or frowns, and one person talked about it to their friend, came over the the table, set their stuff down, read the small text, and went back to their old seating place.

This got me thinking that maybe people were hesitant to sit at a table that said “Reserved” even if they fit the description, so I made a new sign.

The fourth round was in Curry Student Center. The sign read “Reserved for those who wants to sit here.” Duration: 1 minute

This time I decided to “reserve” the table for anyone who read the small text. Once I set it down, the table was claimed within seconds of me walking away to get a picture. I wonder if this was because Curry was really busy, or because older students might have less indecisiveness about sitting at a table marked reserved.

The fifth round was in Steast again. The sign read the same “Reserved for those who want to sit here.” Duration: 20 minutes.

Because of the change of setting, this time took longer for someone to sit down. What I found interesting was that several people read the sign and decided to sit somewhere else (this may indicate they only read the large text?) After 15 minutes someone finally read it, smiled, and decided to sit there.


I originally had the idea to give flyers to those distributing flyers, namely the Jehovah’s witnesses, but that proved too difficult. Instead, I decided to play with the idea of how much people trust signs to have authority. Even the paper sign I made in Paint and then printed on normal printing paper seemed to have some sort of authority, even though it really didn’t. The structure of the dining hall was a good place to set it, because seating is always open, and I’ve never seen any table be reserved. How and why would you even reserve a table in a dining hall? Still, people seemed to buy it. Surprisingly, no one contradicted the signs through the 5 runs, and more than that, no one fitting the descriptions decided to sit there either, until the last sign (“Reserved for those who want to sit here”). I wonder: if there were to be someone fitting the description sitting at the table if others would be more keen to sit there (or if a person sitting there would stop them from doing the same instead of sitting by themselves.)

This intervention played with the cultural expectation of food seating, or the experiential affordance of a table. A table can be reserved in a restaurant setting, and even though the dining hall is not a restaurant setting, people are easily willing to accept it since the context is similar enough, even if they’ve never had the experience of reserving a table in a dining hall. It also questions what makes something have authority, if there is nothing concrete to back that up. The sign, though paper, had enough details (the fact that it was printed, the font, the more complicated way it was folded) to register as “formal”. If I were simply to have written Reserved on a scrap piece of paper, there might’ve been less regard given to those instructions.

This idea fed from similar ideas from past projects, namely the beach balls left in the quad and the origami paper cranes left out. I wanted to do something regarding out of order elevators or showers, but that had already been done. It was also inspired partially by Chris Burden’s questions of authority, and his Shout Piece, described in On Edge like this: “he sat on a brightly lit platform… ordering people to ‘get the fuck out”—which most did, immediately.” That description stood out to me.

Overall, I think this intervention was more of a social experiment, but a success nevertheless.

The Game of Life on the Oregon Trail

My game consisted of an analog version of The Oregon Trail, made on a Game of Life board, with Life pieces and money. I wanted to recreate a famous digital game as a board game; the fact that Oregon Trail was originally a text-based game was also interesting, as a board game seemed like an evolutionary step, between text and computer game, that didn’t exist. As I researched and read articles from the designer who helped make the text game a computer game, I realized how complicated the mechanics were behind the scenes, and I tried to simply them while also making the elements of chance visible.

This is part of my appropriated Game of Life board (in horrible phone-photo quality):

The rules are here.


I playtested first in class. This helped to work out some kinks, such as the options for moving, the too-small food denominations, and the ease of replenishing food through the minigame. (Since my dartboard had not yet come in, we played paper football, which was too easy, especially since you could Hunt and Move each turn.) Also, no party members died, which does not accurately reflect the Oregon Trail game, so I decided to make it more difficult. The guest teacher suggested that there be automatic death from dysentery, which I thought was a good idea so I changed those sickness tiles to death tiles.

I playtested the new game with my friends once my dart board arrived. It worked a lot better, but was still very slow, which led to the fact that you can move twice if you have 2+ oxen. This also fixed a problem we ran into where a player got stuck since they had to keep hunting for food and then immediately paying that food to the bank, leaving no room for them to move forward since they had nothing to trade. I also noticed that there was a lot of leftover money, so I changed the starting money to what it was originally.  I also removed the requirement to stop at every fort, because it became redundant and equalized where people were too much. This was a good playtest because they were constantly trying to push boundaries, asking if they could resurrect or eat their dead members, or eat the oxen, which forced me to make more explicit rules.


This game came about by thinking of what to appropriate. Originally I wanted to make a game about appropriation, but decided that using actual appropriation would be better-suited to a smaller project. I decided on Oregon Trail because it’s iconic as a computer game, and also because I had recently played it and wondered at how and why things happened, and saw its potential as  group game because my roomie and I were playing separately at the same time and updating each other on our progress. I chose the Life board because it fit well with the cars and people, and the new version with pets was perfect for the oxen. I ended up painting over most of the board and covering all the spaces with my Oregon Trail text copied from the 1971 game (the text was shortened to fit and I changed “Indian” from the game to “Native American”). Since the hunting minigame was an important part of bringing the game from text to computer, I wanted that to be skill-based, and decided appropriating darts would work well.

The idea of taking something and using it against its purpose was an aspect of Dada and Fluxus, and I was especially thinking of Duchamp’s readymade Bicycle Wheel, which in combining two objects made them useless. In this case, the Game of Life board was no longer playable as that game, but as a new one (Oregon Trail) that was in a different format than it was created in. The collaborative way my friends and I added and subtracted rules mid-game also seemed to speak to the collaborative, sometimes spontaneous entertainment performed in the Cabaret Voltaire.

Appropriation Show and Tell: Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons is an artist who regularly runs into plagiarism lawsuits. The contrast of the outcomes of two lawsuits helps illustrate the difference between plagiarism and transformative appropriation.

The first example of this from the Roger v. Koons suit:

Koons exactly copied Roger’s personal photograph in a sculpture, which sold for a high price. Roger wasn’t credited or given any of the profits. He lost the lawsuit on the grounds that his “parody” argument was weak and that the work was not transformative enough to qualify under a free use creative license.

Meanwhile, this painting by Koons was deemed transformative, because even though he copied another photographer’s work, the collage element and possible cultural statement fell under free use in the eyes of the court. There’s a thin line (at least legally) between appropriation and outright plagiarism, and Jeff Koons walks that line even if he often crosses it in some people’s eyes.

Images from:

Waiting Piece



Buy ice cream. Wait for it to melt before you eat it.

Mix paint. Wait for it to dry before you use it.

Call someone. Wait for them to hang up before you speak.



Ice cream:


Took 4.5 hours to melt.



Took 6 hours to dry to tacky and over 24 hours to dry the white paint completely. I was able to peel off the thick dried pieces (photo 3).

Phone call:

Took 27 seconds to hang up. (Audio starts at 00:08).


Artist Statement:

This piece was inspired by my reading of Grapefruit by Yoko Ono, specifically her exploration of burning things and if they retain their object-ness after being burned or destroyed (“when you burn a chair, you suddenly realize that the chair in your mind did not burn or disappear”). I was also inspired by her HIDE-AND-SEEK PIECE, which is essentially hiding or waiting until “everyone goes home… forgets about you… [and] dies.” This got me thinking about objects that have an “expiration time” before they lose their original purpose, especially those in my everyday life — tea, paint, phone calls. I constructed my score with this in mind and ordered the three parts so that each was more out of the ordinary than the one before.

I performed the score by myself over the course of a day. I tried to be as present as possible during the waiting process, to contrast how I normally do this waiting passively and unconsciously.

The ice cream melting took much longer than I anticipated. I tried to wait with it, without doing anything, but it took almost 5 hours so I ended up doing homework while it sat next to me on my desk. I found myself getting impatient, and my roommate even commented that she was invested in how well this ice cream melted, even though she wouldn’t get any reward (my reward was eating it). The “prize” at the end of the waiting meant that I was more impatient for this part of my score and was very conscious of how long it was taking.

During the paint mixing, I laid out my palette and mixed paint with an image in mind that, because I let the paint dry, I couldn’t paint. While waiting for the paint to dry, I ended up bringing it with me to the store and back; this was interesting in that no one seemed to notice, but I was very self-conscious about carrying around palette paper. This waiting period was pretty passive because I knew there was not much to do with the paint afterward. After it dried, however, I realized I could peel the paint off in pieces. Waiting turned the liquid paint into a different object. (I might glue these pieces to paper and make a multimedia piece of art later.)

I called my mom for the phone call. I actually wanted to talk with her, and keeping myself from doing so was hard. Once she had hung up, I talked to her. For some reason, it was easier to say nice things when she couldn’t actually hear and respond to them. This waiting period was more difficult than the other two because by not speaking I was preventing an interaction with someone else, instead of changing or preventing a solitary action. It felt disingenuous to my mom to pretend that I couldn’t hear her, but the experience was also cathartic.

In the end, my score became more of a self-reflection or meditation than a contemplation of the objects themselves. It helped me focus on impatience, my mental painting process, interpersonal relationships, conversation, slowing down in daily life, the things we let happen unconsciously, and invisible deadlines, among other things. I’m happy with the way it turned out as I feel it was meaningful, at least to me. Hopefully, if anyone else were to attempt this score it would also help bring them to a self-reflective place.



Draft 1:

Mix paint. Wait for it to dry. Use it.
Buy ice cream. Wait for it to melt. Eat it.
Make tea. Wait for the tea to be cold. Drink it.

Draft 2:

Buy ice cream. Wait for it to melt before you eat it.
Mix paint. Wait for it to dry before you use it.
Boil water. Wait for it to evaporate before you make tea with it.
Call someone. Wait for them to hang up before you speak.


I changed the language to be more of a suggestion than a command, and later removed the tea line to make it more clear (and because of technical difficulties).