Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wanna work for BioWare?

So BioWare is having a writing contest. If you're one of the top three entries, you'll have a shot at a job interview with them. The contest deadline is 1/30/06. Have at thee!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

An online word processor...

Writely is an online word processor you can use from a web browser. It has a few cool features, is currently free, and I've been using it quit a bit to record game design/concept ideas. It's a nice alternative for folks who can't afford or don't need the bloat of MS Word. You can even use it to write up & layout longer blog posts and then submit them directly from Writely. Check it out...

Who needs food when you have GameTap?

Time Warner brings us GameTap, the time wasting tool of tomorrow...TODAY! It's basically an online service which lets you download and play 300+ older games for around 15 bucks a month. Some of the games don't look that bad (Space Quest V!), and it looks like they have a two week free trial. I made my saving throw and didn't sign up, but will YOU be able to resist the shiny red button, Astromen?! Eh! Will you!?

Brick Quest

Lego Pirates was great! But this game was at Gen Con the year prior... oh, what could have been...
Link to Brick Quest, via boingboing

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving from The Man(TM)!

So, just in case you're wondering why I've embarked upon a blog-tastic orgy of posts: I lost my job last week and I'm trying to put off doing all of the productive things I really should otherwise be doing. I'd like to thank my former employer (who shall remain nameless) for laying me off, and thus providing me with my first true taste of unemployment insurance! Oh, the blessed nectar!


Get this: Start playing this timelaps video of the Panama Canal (via Boing Boing) whilst listening to the latest edition of The Apparat Programme by Warren Ellis. Fascinating...

Eurobad(TM) concept art

Creature concept art from the floundering French online RPG The Saga of Ryzom. Never heard of it? Maybe that's because the two of the four available PC races are so Eurobad(TM) as to make one vomit. This is a shame, as the game world and the alien critters in it are very well designed.

Panoramic WoW Images

Check out these panoramic images from World of Warcraft. They're worth taking a look at even if you're not into Achievement Simulation(TM). Via Wonderland.

Awesome self portrait by MC Chad Roc!!1!

Hope you don't mind me uploading it, man. I just thought it was super great and needed The Sharing(TM).

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

SOE to Star Wars Galaxies Players: Eat shit; Die.

"So i log in and i instantly have to convert my 66 Pikeman to one of the new 9 choices. Since Jedi is the only thing close to my old class i pick that. So now im in the middle of the Tat desert with no clothes and no weapon. No idea how to get one, there are no more waypoints and once i pulll out a vehicle i cant put it back. Can i get in the noob f'ing tutorial somehow BECAUSE I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL I'M SUPPOSED TO DO!!!! I don't even have pants right now!!!"

- A poster from the SWG message boards.

So, in case you haven't been following the carnage, here's a quick rundown of a few of the fun changes which have been made to Star Wars Galaxies lately:

  • The 41 profession skill-tree system has been *ahem* streamlined down to 9 base classes, forcing existing players to either respec their characters or start new ones.
  • Loot drops have been added to the game which are much better than any player using trade skills can craft, destroying any monetary incentive to play Lando Calrissian (and no, that's not a joke. That's a real screenshot).
  • Most new loot added to the game is "No-drop/No-trade" for some reason.
  • The game's combat log has been removed so you can no longer tell how much damage your special attacks are doing.
  • The game's turn based combat system has been replace with a "Click as fast as you can LOL it's like Diablo and shit!1!" false-FPS system. Reportedly game enemies have no collision boxes and tend to all stand inside of one other, making combat "Exciting and challenging".
  • The game's interface has been striped of customization tools and is now a (crappy) knock-off of WoW's default interface skin.
  • "Force Sensitive" (er, I mean, Luke Skywalker ) is a selectable starting class (guess what class 80% of the player-base is now using).
Update: Sir Timothy Burke has more...

Kurtz Update

In relation to my recent art projects I have been extremely interested in this criminal case since it began. Here is an update as the case goes to trial.
Is anyone surprised to see after the dismantling of the NEA and the Patriot Act, among other general policy decisions, that federal prosecutors are continuing to crack down no matter how threadbare their charges become?

via the web log of Bruce Sterling

Sunday, November 20, 2005

NYC: Nov. 18th & 19th

I had a good time in Manhattan the last couple of days. I got into the city early Friday afternoon, several hours before Tracy got off work. In this time I was able to go through nearly every gallery in Chelsea. A queasy feeling lingered after going through so many galleries; it's like stuffing yourself with several bags of candy, you feel jittery and unsettled afterwards.
The best work I saw in Chelsea was at the New Museum. This artist, Brian Jungen, had cut-up and arrayed ubiquitous consumer products: plastic lawn chairs and Air Jordan's, into complex and beautiful art objects: ceiling hung whale skeletons and American Indian ritual masks. The work was well conceived and technically perfect. There was an undercurrent of social commentary, but the craftsmanship and beauty withheld any easy reading of a message.

Link to New Museum page on Brian Jungen
Other highlights included:
A series of large paintings by Lari Pittman which were different from his earlier work in that they depicted interiors and clusters of strange baroque furniture webbed in yarn, rather than the cacophony of collage elements he filled his earlier paintings with.
Very similar to Mr. Pittman's work in style, but not nearly as adventurous, are the screen prints of Ryan McGuiness who had a room at Danziger Projects.
Patricia Piccinini's show at Robert Miller Gallery addressees the impending rendezvous of designer genetics and consumerism. Her bloated mutant hamsters are certainly inventive, but I'm more a fan of the strange, leather, tent-like habitats she provided for them. The thing that really dragged the show down for me is that all of the pieces where somewhat flawed technically: the skin on the creatures was not quite as well done as on the sculptures of Ron Mueck, you could tell where the Photoshopping on the large format prints stopped and started, and the drawing in some of the graphite renderings was somewhat bunky. The show presented a compelling set of ideas, though.

1919, Pierre Bonnard, "The Green Shirt"
The next day, Tracy used her powers of Bronx Zoo employment to get us into the Met and the MoMA for free. I got to see the Van Gogh drawing show, an exhibit on 19th century occult photography, an Odilon Redon retrospective, and my favorite Bonnard painting. All of those shows were great. We ran out of time, so we didn't get to see the Elizabeth Murray show or the Richard Tuttle show. We ate dinner at an Indian restaurant in the Village that was either the inside of a Christmas tree, or a left-over James' Bond set from the '60s.
The following are some bronze sculptures we ran across at a MTA stop.
2001, Tom Otterness, "Life Underground"
Update 11/24: Link to NY Times videos of Mr. Otterness talking about his work.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pray for me...

"From the little we've seen of game worlds in Neverwinter Nights 2, they're really trying to use these new tricks to create areas that are realistic and fun. An outdoor demo level created for the visit consisted of a swamp area (though not the starting point of the story) that showed off all of these new tricks. Also shown were day/night cycles which bring the sun around to cast correct shadows during the day and cast a blanket of stars over the world at night. Fog rolls in at night and burns off during the day, foliage is affected by wind, and little details like fireflies flicker in the environment. If this short level is any indication, Obsidian is spending a lot of time to hammer out detail to create completely believable fantasy environments."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Art Speak

This is a little artist statement that I included for my show attempting to explain my thought processes and how the project developed. Please, no snickering . . . comments would be apreciated.


This is a project that began near the end of last year (2004) when I discovered a series of radiographic photos of microbes in a coffee table biology book hidden on the shelves of a used book store. I was originally drawn to the images because of the surprising similarity in form and colour that they held to previous work of mine that was completely unrelated in theme and source material. All of the present paintings and drawings are from this year and represent a conceptual shift in my work. As I went about depicting images of viruses and bacterium I spent a lot of time asking myself if it was possible to use visual illustrations of these microbes, responsible for the most dangerous diseases that exist in the modern world, as metaphors for social dysfunctions. I was also interested in the idea of portraying organisms that in reality are invisible to the naked eye. Being generally unscientific in character and interests, I began to wonder if these microbes actually even exist, and if so, are they any different than the witches and demons that supposedly made us ill before the Enlightenment of the 18th century.
As the work developed the medical or scientific significance of the microbes themselves began to dissolve before the simply formal and technical processes of painting, alongside the menacing sensations that names such as “Ebola, HIV, and Salmonella” or most recently “SARS and Asian Bird Flu” can inspire. I began to realize that what I was really interested in from the beginning was an attempt to repeat and elaborate forms in paint that I found beautiful while at the same time exploring the cold fear that such invisible beasties can imprint on our collective imagination. How could I define the dysfunctions that the paintings supposedly allude to in contemporary urban society? That answer came to me as FEAR. More than any other emotion or phenomenon, I feel fear is the defining characteristic of the community that I was born into; particularly since the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. The ever-present and most basic fears of death, disease, poverty, or loneliness. Fears exploited for political, strategic, and economic gain of such perils as espionage, invasion, bombardment, or sabotage by hidden enemies called communists and terrorists. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the world outside our national borders. Fear of our immigrant neighbours.
These are feelings that I do not share with my compatriots replaced only by an intense curiosity to explore and understand anything cultural that is of the unknown “other.” Making paintings that are like the mutterings of a hypochondriac were to me a type of alchemical experiment investigating the rationalized system of fear and terror that now seemingly dominates all forms of public debate, whether political, medical, or social.
As the year winds to a close the military occupations drag on, images of burning cars and scattered body parts are emblazoned on my memory with a monotonous regularity, and news stories or editorials about how I too could be affected by the next mega-plague or demonstration of nature’s wrath are pounded into my media consumption ceaselessly. My dreams of a better future are blurred and confused. I have to stop for a moment, step outside and look at the sky to defiantly remember that my life is going well and that I am not afraid. Only then is it time to go back into the studio and make more paintings.

3rd of November, 2005

Monday, November 07, 2005

Holistic Thinking in a Can

Remember that joke you Utrecht employees had about selling '70s conceptualism to art students in the form of traditional artists materials?
This is from a Flickr set of a talk that Bruce Sterling delivered at Art Futura 2005. He's a design professor out in CA now.
Link to the beginning of the series.
Link to Mr. Sterling's web-log.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Art + Science Fiction

1997, Vito Acconci, "City of Text"
Mr. Acconci's riff, or theme, is the friction individuals create when they interact socially or with the built environment. I saw him speak a couple years ago in Philadelphia. It was great.
One of his obsessions is transforming landfills into viable habitat for humans.
2003, Thomas Demand, "Space Simulator", chromogenic print of paper model
This artist takes paper-craft models to large format photography in such a way that it tweaks our sense of the real. This relates to the same uneasy feeling one gets after being in virtual reality too long.
1927, Fritz Lang, director, "Still from Metropolis"
Imaginary architecture is a fascinating subject. In a Celtic epic from the dark ages, there is an account of a spire made of glass. The rest of the account runs eerily similar to that of a skyscraper. This is on the word of one of my old medieval studies professors, so it exists. But I don't know the specific text.
Robert Birmelin, "Four Views"
This picture is very Bradbury.