PROGRESS REPORT APRIL-AUGUST 2019

Oops! Sorry its been so long. I got buried in some work-related strife while working on a new video so I sadly had to forego updating for a few months. But I’m done with the video and things have chilled out at work, so here I am. I kept track of everything I got into since March, so prepare yourself for a mega blast of information.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

WORK REPORT

FREAK ROOM: RUINS I made a new cartoon. This one is 20 minutes long; definitely the longest thing I’ve made so far. The script is a combination of things I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. This probably isn’t the final form, but it feels really satisfying to connect so many weird floating phone notes together into one narrative. There’s a bigger writeup of it here on a dedicated page. I made it for the show DEWEY’S REVENGE put on by COLLISIONS CRAFT at their Charles Village sublet. The show was really cute! The other artists featured (names, links) all make really great work and it felt really good to be included in the show!

I still really want to make a game. I’m going to take it slowly going forward and chip away at this, at least until another show opportunity presents itself.

ART

GRAPHIC TEE @ KING’S LEAP A cute show in Brooklyn featuring paintings by one of my dear friends and fellow Freak Room Allum Audrey Gair. Her recent paintings are some of her best - crazy tromploi soap bubbles and drops of blood float by in vague clock shapes past sentimental female figures gazing upon the New York skyline. Allen Brewer, the other artist featured in the show, also had good memorable work that complemented Audrey’s paintings well. Take a look at the documentation linked above. The people at King’s Leap did a great job photographic and promoting the show. I’m proud of Audrey for putting up such good work. Definitely one of my favorite people and favorite artists.

IM BLEEDING ALL OVER THE PLACE, POST NO BILLS WITH BROOKE O’HARRA AND ROSS GAY @ COMMON FIELD I went to the Common Field Convening this April in Philadelphia. To be honest, most of the event was typical messy socially engaged art org fare. More and more I feel like these aren’t places that I belong. Common Field is especially hard to reckon with, considering its price. One panel made the whole thing worth it to me, however, and that was I’m Bleeding All Over the Place, Post no Bills: a Conversation with Brooke O’Harra and Ross Gay. In the 90’s stage director Brooke O’Harra and poet Ross Gay staged an elaborate hoax by appearing as contestants on the 90’s reality show Blind Date. Apparently their episode was a huge hit in syndication, leading a fan site and the two getting recognized off the street quite frequently. This experience made them reconsider their conception of audience and their audiences, specifically. To Common Field’s credit they do a great job documenting each panel, hence the comprehensive overview and notes linked above. Brooke O’Harra also posted the episode on her Vimeo, I urge everyone to watch it:

I also recorded the whole session on my phone. I can send the recording to anyone who is interested. Just email me.

FOCACCIA TOWN BY LEX BROWN @ THE BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF ART Lex Brown came back to Baltimore to perform her speculative operetta Focaccia Town. My boy Sam Garrett accompanied the performance with another Baltimore musician Atticus Hebson. Lex does a great job of dense worldbuilding in a 60 minute performance. Subject matter is real and relatable, make especially unique through Lex’s clowning. There’s a video of an earlier performance out here:

WHITNEY BIENNIAL I saw the Whitney Biennial. I didn’t pay for it. The controversy surrounding Warren Kanders definitely superceded the content of the show. If you want more information about the situation this article is a great summary and also comes very close to the way I feel about everything. I’m glad artists pulled out of the show after the fact and I’m obviously glad that Kanders was pushed out. I think that boycotting the show was the right thing to do, but also wouldn’t blame anyone for accepting the invite. It would be a really hard opportunity to pass up. Its hard to think about the actual content of the show now, but I do actually think most of the work in the show was really strong. This is the first time that a lot of artists (Martine Syms, Tiona Mcclodden, Meriem Bennani, Elle Perez, etc.) that I already follow were in the show. The Forensic Architecture piece was especially interesting to me because they used photogrammetry and feature detection software in order to identify the teargas and bullets supplied by Kanders’ company Safari Land in photos and videos online. This was an attempt to zero in on exactly what areas and organizations were supplied by Kanders. What was crazy about this on a personal level is that I use the same exact processes and softwares in my dayjob. It was pretty nuts to see this stuff being used in such a different way. This was the youngest biennial I’ve seen and (I’m pretty sure) the first time that the majority of artists shown were not white males. Even though I think a boycott or some similar action is the right move, I don’t really think the curators or artists should be shamed for participating. In any case, I highly suggest reading the statement from Hannah Black, Ciaran Finlayson and Tobi Haslett linked above if you have formed or want to form a better understanding of the whole situation and the boycott stance. It’s also important to note that after the statement was released several artists attempted to pull out of the show before Kanders ultimately resigned.

WEB/VIDEOS/GAMES

BRICK FILMS WIKIA A wikia for fan-made movies and shorts made entirely with Lego. Saw a clip of BIRDS on Twitter, and had to dive in. Admittedly, I haven’t spent too much time here, but Im hoping to take a deep plunge in the very near future.

LAZY GAME REVIEWS A great and popular YouTube channel where a nice guy talks about old computer and video game products. The time period this channel focuses on is specifically compelling to me and I really like the way he covers each product. His Thrift series is also really entertaining. Basically he just walks around a couple Good Wills with a spycam talking about different finds. Who knew this could be content?

REBIND.IO Journal covering PC gaming and related content with an emphasis on independent creators. I especially like the article about Alan Wake; A game I really appreciated and think about often, though most seem to have had negative experiences with it. I’m really thankful that people are generating this type of games writing.

HOW TO SING CHANDELIER LIKE SIA An outstanding video shown to me by Adrian. To explain it would undermine its impact. Please watch:

RUNAWAY TRUCK LANES How fun would it be to cruise through one of these? I’m sure IRL it would be painful and terrifying but I can’t shake the fantasy of cruising through a ton of barrels full of cool water in a huge heavy truck. I put a handful of these videos on the playlist:

MINIAC I was looking for videos of people painting miniature models and found this channel. I really want to make some 3d renders of miniatures, and needed some info on how to simulate different materials at this small scale. This guy makes efficient videos. Easy to understand for an uninitiated viewer like me.

CITADEL CATALOGUE DAILY/COLOSSEUM REX Two instagram accounts run by the same guy focuses on the models (CCD) and illustrations (CR) found in Games Workshop publications from the 1980’s to the early 2000’s. His picks and commentary is really intersting; especially since I know little to nothing about miniature painting or Warhammer.

HARMONY ZONE This is the second time I’m talking about Harmony Zone/Stephen thecatamites. Two new articles about Frogs in games and depictions of morality in games. A lot of links on this page are sourced from HZ/STC. I'd like to believe that there's a lot of kindred thought at play.

LOW TECH WEB RING Linked from Harmony Zone I believe there is a lot to think about with “Low Tech Web” beyond simply a nostalgia for the early days of the internet. Certainly, there is a fondness I feel for that aesthetic and the time it represents to me personally but there are also accessability and environmental reasons why a low tech web should be nurtured.

LOW TECH MAGAZINE Following the some links from above, I found this website and subsequent interview for Low Tech Magazine. I especially like the battery meter on the side and the way images are rendered on this site. Its sort of reminiscent of the old Brutalist Websites trend if anyone remembers that, only with more purpose and less presumption.

SHADOW HEARTS Linked from STC’s Frogs article, here’s a fan-made bestiary for some of the most compelling enemies I’ve ever seen in game design. I love this era and genre of game. I should try to play this sometime when I’m not as busy with other things.

OLD SITES A collection of old sites directly from the Low Tech Web Ring (Em Reed) or Harmonyzone. My 3 favorites:

OIKOSPIEL I found out about this game a while ago from Zoë Sparks' blog, but only got around to it now. I played through most of this game. It was really interesting; prominently discussing Marxist themes I don’t think I’ve ever really seen in the forefront of game narratives even at the indie level. You play as a futuristic dog charged with creating a worker’s dog opera for a futuristic society of Kotch Brothers. I really enjoyed my time with the game and I would recommend that anyone mildly curious spend some money and time on it.

BIOACOUSTICA Found on Zöe Sparks’ Twitter. An online resource of wildlife sounds. The way the data is organized is really great. They even have things plotted on a map.

3D PLUGINS/PROGRAMS

BLENDER 2.8 Wow Blender got so, so great with the latest update. New realtime renderer, sculpt and texture paint tools, and BSDF materials means I basically only use this now and not 3DS Max, my old standard. I feel like, because of all the premium third party plugins available, Autodesk hasn’t put a lot of work into updating the native plugins for 3DS. Thinks like PFlow and Hair and Fur feel really outdated compared to Blender, even though that’s a completely free tool.

HAIR TECHNIQUE I’ve been looking into different ways to make good looking hair in 3d without breaking the bank i.e. render speeds. This is by far the best roadmap I’ve ever seen for the wild world of 3d hair/fur. Unfortunately, the links are quite old and some of them are dead

HDRI HAVEN I’ve been using HDRI probes for lighting lately, and its really fun. I love how goofy they look if you just use them as the background with your models just floating there. HDRI Haven has a lot of good and funny free HDRI’s.

JUSTIN A child’s text-to-speech voice. It’s pretty eerie - Adrian found it and I used it for the last cartoon I made. Since then I’ve been hearing it everywhere.

MCMASTER-CARR MODELS Did you know that Mcmaster-carr has free downloadable 3d models of almost all of their hardware? The possibilities are endless.

PODCASTS

CREEPY PODCAST Another podcast where a guy narrates creepypastas. This one is decently produced, and has a good number of episodes so far. Not as well produced as the NoSleep podcast but the content is definitely more indicative of the greater trends in the Creepypasta sphere.

SCP PODCAST Produced by the same people as Creepy, but they narrate SCP entries and tales instead of straight up creepypastas. If you don’t know what the SCP Wiki is, its essentially a long-running open source community that writes wiki entries in-universe as the staff of a global paranormal investigation institution. The wiki has been running for well over a decade and the upkeep is strenuous. Forums drama and public meltdowns aren't uncommon in the community. Anyways, this podcast has some people that narrate some of the stories. Though most of the stories are high quality relative to most creepypasta-adjacent online projects, it's really the entire system, history and culture of the SCP Wiki that I'm interested in.

CREEPYPASTA YOUTUBES I’m forever scraping the bottom of the horror audio fiction barrel and recently I’ve found myself listening to people on youtube sporting names formed from some combination of the words Creep, Mc, Pasta, Mr., etc. Most of these are pretty low rent but upload, like, multiple times a day. Sad to say, but this is what keeps me going through the work week.

W40K YOUTUBES More audio about Warhammer 40,000 lore. This stuff is incomprehensibly dense and not very cool. I felt physically different after a few days of this stuff, but hey, theres a lot of content so at least I know I’ll never run out.

BOOKS

THE END OF CAPITALISM (AS WE KNEW IT) by JK Gibson-Graham Seminal Feminist-Marxist critique from the mid-90’s by Australian economic geographer duo Julie Graham and Katherine Gibson. Its hard to really find much to say about this book besides the fact that so much of its contents seems to be wholly enmeshed in the current discourse. Like, this is a book I’ve heard about a ton before I actually sat down and read it. In any case its a pretty cool survey and reading from Australian perspectives, rather than American or European, is pretty interesting.

GENERAL INTELLECTS by Mckenzie Wark 21 profiles of 21 “public intellectuals” for the 21st century. I really like the distinction Wark makes between “high” linguistic, maybe more academic marxism and the “low” theory one gains or exposits through lived experience. This comes out in their defence of Foucault and partial critique of Žižek. This is by far the most recent Wark text I’ve read (published in 2016) and I’m very grateful to have her in the present. I can’t think of too many other prominent, self-identified Marxists who talk about technology, games, the web from such a clear place of personal entrenchment.

CONSCIOUSNESS by Lex Brown A super well printed book of lyrics, photos and screenshots from Lex’s songs, performances and videos. Published by Genderfail, this is a really great looking book and I’m super glad I got my hands on a copy when Lex was here in Baltimore for her performance at the BMA.

MUSIC

EMAMOUSE I’ve been listening to two Emamouse EP’s (Eye Cavity and Black Place on the Edge) on repeat the past couple of months. Black Place on the Edge and Eye Cavity both have deep baroque overtones that really set the maniacal, depraved mood. This music is twisted. Both EP’s totally shred and I recommend to literally everyone.

MOVIES

HOUSE II (1987) I slept on this for too long. Bewildering no-genre late 80’s pastiche. A buddy comedy set in a shapeshifting mansion featuring cute puppets and cowboy ghosts.

DEE SNYDER’S STRANGELAND (1998) Cyber-thriller in which a sadistic Modern Primitive villain (Dee Snyder) catfishes and abducts people. There’s a lot of good stuff in here, including early internet plot devices and an ejected redemption arc for Dee. I really like these “seedy underbelly” type movies. Its usually pretty entertaining to see how specific elements of these subcultures can be twisted in order to seem threatening.

CRAWLSPACE (1986) Timeless classic; Klaus Kinski haunts an apartment building spying on his tenants. Mostly run-of-the-mill over the top camp fare, however at one point KK is shown filing down the ends of some c-clamps to make these scary torture devices. Simple and visceral which was shocking for a movie like this.

SHRUNKEN HEADS (1994) Another Full Moon movie that touches Blood Dolls level, but doesn’t quite reach it. I think what distinguishes the good Full Moon movies from the rest of their catalog, or just the vast catalog of horror movies in general, is casting the monsters as anti-heroes. Shrunken Heads goes full tilt into boy murder and then basically turns into Batman Begins but for flying severed heads.

THE ARRIVAL (1996) Not that one. This is a Charlie Sheen alien secret invasion movie. I really like movies from this time period, especially when they have the kind of globe-trotting vibe this movie has. Stick around to see what weird shit is in store for Charlie Sheen’s neighbor Kiki, as well as some great VFX for the BHB’s (Black Hole Bombs).

BYE BYE MAN (2017) Don’t Say It Don’t Think It. This needs to be seen to be experienced. Essentially a Slenderman knockoff, this movie is elevated by its uncanny performances that are truly unsettling. Like, the premise of this movie almost works by how hollow and peculiar everything and everyone is. I don’t even remember if the titular Bye Bye Man does anything in the movie.

CRY WOLF Early (2005) 2000’s PG-13 campus slasher with a strong plot reliance on AOL Instant Messenger. Clearly I’m the target demo.

SWIMFAN (2002) Basically the same thing as Cry Wolf but more of a thriller than slasher. Single White Female vibes. This and Cry Wolf would made a great double feature.

MY DEMON LOVER (1987) Usually not up for this much tongue-in-cheek shit, but we had fun with this one. Pretty unoffensive with good monster effects and a funny castle in the middle of central park.