Artwork #2: Musical Card Game

Instructions for this game (each player will go one at a time) :

  1. Shuffle your hand of 13 cards
  2. Draw the first three cards from the top to form a chord
    • If card is between 1-Q, the card’s note must be played in this chord
    • If the card is a King, you may select any note you would like to add to the chord
    • If the card is an Ace, you may replace the drawn chord with any chord you would like
      • Drawing an Ace immediately negates previously or future drawn cards for this chord
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 three times until you have your chord “progression”
  4. The player now has two minutes to create anything with the progression they have drawn
  5. All players will come together at the end of these two minutes to perform their composition to one another
  6. The players then decide on a winner

This musical game was greatly inspired by Takako Saito and her modifications to the game of chess. Pieces like her “Sound Chess” game got me to think about how I could manipulate traditional games into something that stimulates the senses. Similarly to that piece, I thought it would be a great challenge to incorporate something musical to a traditional game of cards. After having difficulty pairing instrumentation to an already existing game of cards, I decided it would be best to create a new one. I came up with this idea after sitting at my keyboard for a while and being stumped on where to start in terms of making a song. It then came to me that I could make a game where the deck of cards started the song for me. With this new random way of putting chords together, it is much easier to overcome writer’s block in a fun way.

Roommate playing this game:

Classmates playing this game:

Tower of Life: A Scripted Experience

Assemble a single item from every love, interest, and desire you have, big or small.

Stack the items on top of each other, as tall as you can, until they topple over.



Artist’s Statement

“Tower of Life” was an odd project for me, as I got to examine interesting themes and my own views on games, “winning,” and their place in art.

The script itself is a very simple stacking challenge. However, as the instructions require the script’s executor (hereafter referred to as the “actor”) to assemble items from their loves, interests and desires, each person’s execution of the script will prove wildly different. Through this, the tower becomes a symbol representing the actor’s life, exemplifying a gestalt view of one’s life (we are more than the sum of our parts).

The tower is composed of strong symbols, but in its construction it is very fragile. Eventually the script points out that stacking too high will cause the tower to fall down. This is representative of a key idea in my design goal, of showing the downsides of materialism and overloading one’s life with physical burdens. With materialism comes diversity and interest, but ultimately there is no way to balance it all perfectly. Interests change as we grow, and people grow apart from their loves and from each other.

While the final script is described as an experience rather than a game, originally I had intended for it to be an unwinnable game. At first there were three end results, each with a bit of a snide inevitability to their explanations. First, when the tower toppled over, you’d lose because materialism doesn’t lead to happiness. If your tower didn’t topple over (likely due to being only a few items), you’d lose because your life doesn’t have enough diversity in it. If you couldn’t assemble a tower at all, you’d lose because your life is devoid of passions, and that means you likely lack connections to those around you. While I eventually cut these from the actual script, I think they still persist, inspired by the name “Tower of Life.” Just thinking about one’s tower as a metaphor for their life, an actor will find deeper meaning in its inevitable fall.