Artwork 4: Mr. Wendell

For my final project ( I chose to create an interactive fiction game. In the game you are a boy talking to your closest friend, Mr. Wendell, about what the future holds.

Mr. Wendell

Mr. Wendell is a reflection of the protagonist, conflicted and rejected by society. While Mr. Wendell does not change, the protagonists attitude towards Mr. Wendell can vary wildly. You can choose to stay with Mr. Wendell in the closet where it is safe, go out and leave Mr. Wendell behind, burn Mr. Wendell, or take Mr. Wendell with you to college. While the game isn’t nearly as long as I would like it to be, I still love the concept of a story that consists entirely of crazy, one-sided dialogue from the protagonist. I found it rewarding to develop the mutual relationship between the two, especially when it came to dialogue that was self-reflective, such as reassuring Mr. Wendell of his fears of the future or talking about how Mr. Wendell had been broken.

A half-human half-goat creature with school books and a backpack


Initially I had envisioned a much larger scale, with the protagonist going through a world of half-human, half-goat people yet facing relatable dilemmas. The world would be extraordinary harsh with all other characters speaking through a robotic voice box. The protagonist would choose whether to associate with Bethany or his friends, and then choose his nurturing mother or his hard working father. Demonic aspects were layered throughout to exaggerate the cruelty of the world, with the friends beating and killing an ostracized classmate and with the father’s job being to kill all the deformed goat-human babies being born. While this is still a game and a world I’m extremely interested in exploring, especially diving deeper into the sci-fi elements, it was far too big of a scope for this project, and I ended up going for the much more grounded shrine that was Mr. Wendell.

Mr. Wendell was inspired by a number of elements, with the visual representation being the immediate focus. I really enjoyed the wide variety of dada collages, especially those that replaced the human form with mechanical parts such as Hannah Höch’s The Beautiful Girl and Max Ernst’s Sacred Conversations. I was also inspired by Dali’s surrealist work and carried that over to the melting plastic in addition to John Vochatzer’s contemporary collages being a great showcase of creatures with a terrifying presence. I also wanted to hint at the idea of the readymade, with there being a constant question if Mr. Wendell, and thus the protagonist, are just trash. I thought this paralleled nicely with the idea of being “broken” and a question of what the ideal state of something is, both for art and one’s own self.

As far as the goat imagery, Catherine was a big inspiration, with the dream like sequences where all men are turned into goats being especially compelling. I thought the goat would be interesting, posing as both a plush toy friend like many other barnyard animals, and calling to some deeper, possibly demonic power.

Overall I’m very happy with how the game turned out. I still think it is tragically short and would highly encourage multiple playthroughs, but I really enjoyed the artistic styles I got to experiment with, and the unique narrative stance of the one-sided conversation



Art Game Show & Tell – That Dragon, Cancer

That Dragon, Cancer is an autobiographical game created by Ryan and Amy Green about their son Joel’s fight with cancer. The majority of the game is a walking simulator, with the player taking the role of both parents as they struggle to cope with their son’s illness. The game focuses on ideas of love, loss, religion, and purpose, abstracted as chapters in their life with Joel.

That Dragon, Cancer does an amazing job showcasing what games are capable of, and I believe is an excellent example of an art game as it embodies values and affordances of both contemporary art and video games. The game defies the conceptual affordances laid out by the gaming community immediately. This isn’t a heroic game, or escapism, it’s a game about a real family’s struggles and hardships that are unavoidably brutal. Ryan wants players to face the harsh reality of death and to know that no matter what they may be going through that they are not alone.

The game also subverts formal affordances with its strict limits on the player’s agency. Often you can only walk and interact with objects, with little to no choice throughout, furthering the idea that this journey is inevitable. The characters are also abstracted, with the simple geometric faces not going for hyper realism, but a more or less blank canvas in which the dialogue from the real, struggling family can convey their emotion.

Finally the experiential affordances are entirely different from what one thinks of as the typical video game. There isn’t an inherent challenge for the player to conquer, or enemies to shoot. The player is living the lives of a family who is trying to survive, and is powerless to change anything. That Dragon, Cancer is about the player to facing and eventually accepting the harshest realities life has to offer, not escaping them.

As a whole, That Dragon, Cancer is a wonderfully unique game, both in it’s subject matter and approach to game design. It is unflinchingly real, not avoiding any of the paranoia, fear, or cowardice that comes when faced with an enormous struggle. The game design itself is incredibly minimalistic, with the undeniable focus being the story itself. It’s a game the provokes long and thoughtful reflection, and that captures a unique essence of fear and love that so many games fail to replicate.

Intervention: Omegle Polling

For my intervention work I decided to ask people on Omegle who they were voting for. I was surprised by the ranges of results, with some people going in depth about the dangers of a ruler with unchecked power and other people asking that I show my tits.



There were a lot of bots who did not seem like they were going to vote which is probably for the best.


There were also people outside of the U.S. who talked about their own political system, with many feeling that a two party system doesn’t really work.



A lot of people disconnected almost immediately.


There were a lot of interesting people.


People didn’t seem to be buying into the whole ‘blue wave’ idea.



People were supportive of my team though.


This intervention was inspired by the then upcoming midterm election, with the idea of carrying the political weight of the 2018 midterms to a virtual space composed on a basis of randomness and escapism. For my project I thought it would be funny to do polling surveys on Omegle, highlighting the idea of face to face interactions and calling into question what subjects people do and don’t want to approach with randomly assigned strangers. I also thought the idea of adding politics back into a space that was virtually devoid of it was interesting, acting as an almost polar opposite to New Games that brought people together in opposition of the current political climate, and Tactical Media that sought to undermine oppressive systems.

To start I wanted to act the part, with the suit alone hopefully adding a false air of seriousness and validity similar to that of the Yes Men. Unlike the Yes Men however, I wanted to introduce a serious political discussion in the face of many penises, in fact the opposite of the Yes Men Managerial Leisure Suit.

While the vast majority of people on video chat didn’t respond, I was happy with the meaningful conversations I was able to have from people all over the world in the chat only section, and did appreciate the few times people video chatting did diverge from their ordinary behavior.



Feminist Dress Up

For my game featuring appropriation I chose to make a dress up game utilizing images from famous feminist artworks. While I chose the majority of my images based on the work’s expression of the artist’s own self-expression and relation to gender. overall I am very happy with the chosen works, especially with how harshly they contradict the traditional dress up game with the common inclusion of nudity or blood.

Classmates actively collaging An example of one of the collages A second collage example


Initially I started with a physical version, scaling all of the source images to be comparably to scale, and had my classmates cut and clue parts of the images to create their own feminist artist. I was surprised with how well this activity turned out, with the flexibility of the physical medium offering unique combinations like different arms or feet that I hadn’t thought of for the digital version. I also love how the final products include the background of the various images, setting the characters in a scene. Initially I was conflicted on whether or not I should choose to cut the pieces out before hand, but found the physical act of cutting and gluing the collage to be powerful.

An example of the digital game. An example of the digital game. An example of the digital game.

For the digital version of the game I chose to use unity, and make a relatively simple character creation in which you could customize the head, torso, and legs of your character. While I love the immediacy of seeing the different combinations, in the future I hope to continue adding to the game to polish it, eventually adding a submit screen that would show the original works behind the parts you chose and a brief explanation of each work and its artist respectively.

Overall I took a lot of inspiration from a number of different Dada artists and their appropriation. Hannah Höch was particularly inspirational. I loved the aesthetic of Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany in addition to The Beautiful Girl being an amazing feminist collage. Max Ernst’s Sacred Conversations, Man Ray’s Coat Stand, George Grosz and John Heartfield’s The Middle-Class Philistine Heartfield Gone Wild, and Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No 2 all served as great examples of the abstraction of the female form using collage and assembly, in addition to the question of the objectification of the female form. Overall while the combination of the individual works is up to the participant, I hope the resource of works provided allow for some kind of education or curiosity about the artists behind them and all the work that they have created.

Harsh Critique

Rules, restrictions, and aspirations are established.

Everyone is an artist and a judge.

All artists create a work of art.

All judges choose their favorite.

The artists or artist with the least support is no longer an artist and their work is destroyed.

Repeat until all artists are destroyed.

Artist Statement

With Harsh Critique I tried to create a score that could serve as an abstracted metaphor of the art world in addition to a real activity. While I have a great respect for slower, more methodical scores, for this score I wanted to focus on rapid creation and destruction.

For this piece I took inspiration from works such as BarSk’s DELETE, Conrad Shawcross’ Paradigm (Ode to the Difference Engine) and Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York.  I love the idea of Auto-Destructive art generally, and especially appreciate the the wide variety of forms it takes. BarSk’s game jam event is all very sudden, sporadic, and immediate while Shawcross’ and Tinguely’s machines were very methodical in their destruction, Shawcross’ tying and untying string while collapsing under its own weight, and Tinguely’s machine lighting itself on fire seemingly urgently. One of my favorite parts of this project was seeing how people chose to destroy their works, with the ideas behind the method of destruction almost taking priority over the creation over the original work.

Overall I was extremely happy with the score upon completion. I loved how individual artistic styles and patterns emerged. I am very happy with how the idea of rejection and a lack of support reflects the destruction of an artist’s motivations, and I was also surprised with how well the score worked in practice, with the destruction alleviating a lot of the nervousness that would come with doing art in large groups, especially among those who don’t normally create at all. The destruction actually added an uplifting atmosphere and level of urgent excitement that I believe would be hard to recreate otherwise.


Students draw their artwork on the chalkboard.

A student constructs a tower out of paper.

The initial trial of the score was relatively unsuccessful but an important learning experience. Four of my classmates volunteered to be the artists and judges while everyone else looked on. This created an awkward power dynamic with them referencing me for how to interpret the score, with myself wanting to remain an onlooker but also obviously having an ideal intention of how it would run. I hope the idea that everyone is a judge an artist and is actively participating will solve this in the future though, as any decisions or suggestions by the group would reflect their own artistic community, mirroring that of a much broader and more abstract art world.

For the second trial we created art in 8 minute rounds, with the “losing” artist then choosing how to destroy their own creation. The agency of choosing for your own art proved extremely valuable, with people getting excited about how they were going to do it rather than discouraged by the destruction itself. I was very happy with how much the destruction was incorporated as a part of the process, with equal if not more thought being put into the methods. I also loved how even people who would never identify themselves as artistic developed their own styles and themes. Jalyn encorporated the Star Market ‘See What Makes Us Shine!” slogan from a receipt into her landscape painting for an uplifting piece. Julia’s multimedia pieces depicted food both in actuality and in her simplistic geometric recreations. Both of Jasmine’s pieces were extremely heartfelt and personal cards done expressively with sharpie and all of my pieces were multimedia utilizing trash that all were revealed with scissors.

Overall I would highly recommend recreating this score, although it might be worth shortening the rounds as they progress or limiting the rounds in some way as we found our three rounds to be almost too long. The affordances given by the destruction of the work were extremely valuable though, and created a much more lighthearted and collaborative experience with the actual destruction of everything.

Richard Prince’s Cowboy (Appropriation Show and Tell)

A picture of a Marlboro advertisement beside Prince's cropped photo

I chose to talk about Richard Prince’s 1989 ‘rephotograph’ of a Marlboro advertisement. Prince’s photograph was named one of Times 100 most influential photos of all time, and sold for 1.2 million dollars at auction, but the authorship of the photograph is debatable. The photograph was legally determined to be fair use, with Prince transforming the photograph and the meaning behind it through purely subtractive means. Despite this many people, especially photographers, see Prince as nothing but a thief, profiting off of other’s work and calling it his own.

While I believe Prince himself had questionable intentions, claiming he thought all advertisements were public domain when he took his photograph, I believe the photograph itself has an immense amount of value. Prince calls into question the idea of advertisements, the idolization of the masculine and mysterious cowboy, and the ownership of art, all by cropping an image most people wouldn’t think twice about when presented in its original context.

Prince has continued his adversarial challenging of fair use with numerous collages and the display of Instagram posts in a gallery setting. While many many people view Prince’s work as derivative and question the classification of it as art, I believe the questions Prince raises through his photography are extremely valuable. What is America? What do we idolize? How are we manipulated?  What is ownership? What is art?