Halves of a Brain

Artist’s Statement

For this artwork, I wanted to explore and experience and feelings surrounding trust. I play a variety of mainstream class-based team shooters and although I need to trust in my teammates, I feel this genre often conflates trust in one’s teammates with expectations on their performance and then surprise or disappointment, often resulting in a toxic play space. I wanted to design a game where both players are truly at the mercy of each other and (due to a limited amount of information provided to each) must work together to move forward.

As such I designed Halves of a Brain, an in-person party game with 2 players and a moderator / quiz grader. An audience is also encouraged! There is a Describer (left-brain) and a Drawer (right-brain), each with one half of a pop-quiz, each sitting in a chair back-to-back.  The Describer has the quiz questions and the Drawer has the quiz answers (but no idea what the question is). The brain analogy refers to how I like to imagine my brain cells communicate, turning memories lost deep in my mind into concepts and then into concrete answers. Similarly, the Describer must look at the answers and try to conceptualize this into an image that they will then describe how to draw to the Drawer. They must only describe how to draw lines and shapes and can’t use the word they are trying to describe or its synonyms. The Drawer must draw out this image and interpret it into an answer for the question. There are 5 questions and 15 minutes. Winning means getting a passing grade. The moderator/instructor can grade as they like with partial credit if they choose.

I was inspired by Yoko Ono’s cut piece, a performance which required the canvas (Yoko Ono) to trust others to participate safely and move the piece in a new direction. Both parties needed each other and there was an tension in the room as strangers needed to be trusted to participate without harming Yoko Ono. I was also inspired by the split information system used in Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.

The Describer must trust that the Drawer is interpreting their instructions correctly and guessing correctly and the Drawer must trust that the Designer is providing an accurate description and not leading them astray. The Drawer can’t move forward without the Describer and the Describer has no power to complete the quiz. This creates an interlocked relationship of trust and need that I wanted to explore.



  • Trivia Question: Which instrument is associated with Earl ‘Bud’ Powell?
    • Answer: Piano
  • Trivia Question: In which branch of the arts is Katherine Dunham famous?
    • Answer: Ballet
  • Trivia Question: Who had an interest in psychic phenomena and held séances in the White House?
    • Answer: Abraham Lincoln
  • Trivia Question: In Swedish, a skvader is a rabbit with what unusual feature?
    • Answer: Wings
  • Trivia Question: What color does gold leaf appear if you hold it up to the light?
    • Answer: Green

Caleb (Describer) and Thomas (Drawer)

Jarrett (Describer) and Jennifer (Drawer)


It took the groups around 2 minutes to complete each drawing with harder ones taking around 5 minutes. I originally has a 5 minute timer but extended it to 15 because 5 was way too short. It was interesting to notice that in the second playtest group, Jarrett opted not to draw what he was describing on his own end, but wrote what he was thinking before opting to just say it instead. The playtesters were laughing a lot and it was fun to see how they reacted to the answers at the end. The game is also very interesting to watch, seeing how in-sync the players are and watching them interpret what’s going on in their mind in real time. It’s definitely a game where users can swap roles and get a different experience.

Candid Campus Surveys

When I began thinking about intervention projects, I was inspired by the presentation on the CSIA game and how the booth was interpreted differently based on the context it appeared in. I was also inspired by Yoko Ono’s Painting to Hammer a Nail where the viewers directly got to collaborate with the art and contribute to it. As such, I wanted to create something that people could interact with but also add to as they wished. This led me to go for a survey format where all the elements are written in expo or pencil, enforcing no rigid structure and inviting collaboration. I made a survey about a common argument I have with my friends (What’s the best Taqueria on Campus?) but moved it out of the food context and into the classroom context. This changes the atmosphere of the classroom and ties into students’ urge to get distracted and do something unrelated during class. I even put the surveys in the back of the classrooms when possible! I was curious to see how students would interact with the survey while they had time to answer and doodle if they felt especially distracted during class.

This first one was in the back of a classroom in Hayden Hall. As you can see, students began to add their own options that weren’t even on campus. There was one slight doodle but far fewer than I expected.

What I wrote  What I found a couple hours laterWhat I found at the end of the day

This next batch was in a classroom in Kariotis hall. This board didn’t have much engagement and was removed by the end of the day.

This final one was hung as a poster in West Village H. Unfortunately, it was removed before I could capture any results. This is still technically an interaction with the intervention piece, just not the one I was hoping for!

Competitive Collaging

Game Rules Description


  • Magazine / Assortment of images (Required)
  • Binding agent (tape, glue, pins, etc.) (Required)
  • Separation agent (scissors or tearable materials) (Required)
  • Limited drawing resource (single stick of mechanical pencil led) (Required)
  • Canvas (Required)
  • An abstract prompt (Required)
  • As many random and weird materials as you can find


“Players, you have 20 minutes to create a piece that you feel best applies to a given abstract prompt. Your material pool stands before you and is shared by all of you. Your time starts NOW!”

Artist’s Statement

I created this game because I wanted to create a collaborative and competitive collaging experience that pushed people out of their comfort zone and forced them to create something different. Players are forced to negotiate how they will share resources and may have to change their designs if something they wanted to use it taken by someone else — The playing field always changes. 20 minutes is also not a huge amount of time so players must make compromises in executing their ideas. This game is intended to produce interesting art whether the players consider themselves ‘artists’ or not. Players are tasked with creating a piece that best fits a given prompt. This prompt should be curated so as not to be too literal. This is to ensure there is no “correct” way to make your art and that the players aren’t all trying to make the same thing (otherwise ‘art skill’ becomes a big factor instead of individual creativity). There should also be a wide array of materials for the players to use including a magazine and some binding agent (glue, tape, pins, etc.), as well as multimodal elements like plastic, cardboard, rubber, or any other unconventional material. This will further push players out of their comfort zone. I was inspired by Hannah Hoch’s photomontage art, appropriating a variety of images from all kinds of context into a new image. As such, I want players to draw from magazines that have a wide variety of imagery to work with. I was also inspired by Kurt Schwitters’ collages that often incorporated a variety of materials and sometimes multiple dimensions. I don’t just want players to cut and paste on paper, but to explore different ways of combining their elements. By providing a wide assortment of materials, players are (by the sheer quantity of different materials) encouraged to branch out. I also wanted to give users a canvas and limited drawing resource because I want players to try to walk down the ‘expected’ path of just drawing and pasting images together but then realize that this method will not be tenable in creating the artwork they image. In doing so, I’m allowing players to “play the game wrong” in order to realize why they should go out of their comfort zone and try something different. Additionally, by giving players little direction, they will need to think for themselves and tap into their creative sides. Ideally, the resulting works should be beautiful and hard to judge because they are so different and creative.

Playtest notes

Prompt: “Trapped”

Materials included (all shared unless specified otherwise)
○ Spring 2022 experience: The Magazine of Northeastern University
○ Scissors
○ Stick of mechanical pencil led (each)
○ Sheet of sketchpad paper (each)
○ Plastic orange and black bag
○ Domino’s Napkins
○ Empty Capri Sun box
○ Tape
○ A LOT of fruit shaped erasers

The playtest went great. Although I provided a sheet of sketch pad paper as a canvas and a stick of led as a drawing utensil, neither of the players used the stick of led at all and both used the sketchpad paper but not as a traditional canvas. One player cut up the canvas to use as a component of their collage and the other cut it up to use as a layer on their 3D artwork. They especially had to negotiate how they’d share the magazine and it’s images. The players created art that stood on their own with no use of the canvas at all. Both pieces had dimension and used a variety of resources available to them. They both approached the prompt differently too. The process is recorded below

Final Products

Beach Scene: A Performance and a Piece


Float a pretty parachute with some friends and a chair,
String them along in public with no shame but much care.

Artist’s Statement: 

Beach Scene: A Performance and a Piece. This score was inspired by Allan Kaprow’s Happenings. When reading about his 18 Happenings in 6 Parts (1968), I was intrigued by the idea of blurring mundane life activities and art. In Kaprow’s piece, audience members had to switch seats to move on to the next set of Happenings that were occurring in trios. The Happenings were not linked, intriguing but also of familiar actions, engaging the audience in a way unlike anything else at the time. In class, when we went out into Centennial Commons and staged our own Happening, I loved watching the class create goals for themselves and then try to enact them with the varied paraphernalia around. I was a part of a Happening where we tried to get a parachute to fly using string and help from a chair. In doing so, we created a performance for the other students on the quad and even got a stranger to take a picture of us with a drone. The barrier between us as artists and our audience was broken in a beautiful way that moved me. The audience couldn’t tell if it was a performance or if we were just playing for fun, blurring the line between daily activities and art, much like Kaprow did.

I wanted to capture this experience in a score, but I didn’t want all who partook in enacting the score to end up with the exact same result. John Cage demonstrated how introducing elements of randomness in an art piece allows for unexpected yet interesting results that I believed would foster a sense of ownership and uniqueness to the Happenings players would create using my score. It also allows for the score to be “replayed” and a different result to arise. As such, I drew inspiration from Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit in structuring a score that was simple and left much room for interpretation so that the art created was truly unique every time.

The title includes “Beach Scene” so as to get artists to think about the beach and potentially performing it there, although the actual location of the performance isn’t too important. Beaches do, however, have lots of wind and water, both of which can be used for the ‘floating’ exercise mentioned in the score. I implored players to ‘float’ (up to their interpretation) a ‘pretty parachute’ (also up to their interpretation) with friends a a chair. The number of friends is left unknown as is how the chair is used. In getting players to reach a goal that is somewhat confusing or non-sensical, they have to be creative and end up making something unique. The phrase “String them along in public with no shame but much care.” not only rhymes with the line above to encourage non-literal thinking, but also uses string as a verb, alluding to our use of string in the original Happening. I also instruct that the Happening be enacted in public with no shame so that players don’t try to hide. This inadvertently include their audience in the performance and introduces an element of randomness. It’s likely that someone outside of the original group of friends will interact with the Happening or at least watch and comment from afar. Lastly, I implore the players to float the parachute with much care, hoping that they take the time to consider the affordances of the parachute and the way they are framed during the performance.

When I playtested this score in class, the results were wonderful. The playtesters ‘strung along’ a passerby who they recognized and got them to sit in a chair that they then engulfed with the parachute. They then tried to get the parachute to float in the wind before running underneath it and trying not to get trapped. The performers made a game, one that was interesting to watch and blurred the line between art and daily play. As such, I think the score was a success!