If a jpg can be a kit, that is…
It’s about as close to homemade as photoshop gets but the above – which I produced for The University of Sheffield’s Inspiration & Co project – was a labour of love and I thought it would be good to hang it on the website’s wall. A series of student-voted talks by lecturers, researchers and teachers at Sheffield University, the epiphany kit was part of a programme of content designed to encourage students to explore the rooms of their minds. This was in the old fishtank in the attic but it might turn out to be the point at which we introduced/announced play as part of the conversation.
Andrew Kotting’s This Filthy Earth (2001) is the only entry in the little known ‘Pastoral Apocalypse’ genre I’ve just invented. Ostensibly the story of an awkward farm girl who’s decision to take a stand against her brother-in-law coincides with a disastrous harvest and a well-meaning stranger, it’s a deliberate mess, alternatively muddy and melodramatic with a contemporary-but-not setting that sees the film’s Heaney-like hands up to their elbows in peat and bodily fluids.
Nonetheless as Sight and Sound note it’s a film that’s ‘most powerfully visionary at its least coherent’, boasting a priest who won’t let anyone in his church cos the villagers aren’t fit for God and with liner notes that turn out to be a proposal for a riveting form of dirt-under-the-fingernails filmmaking.
On the eve of Sheffield’s 2011 Doc/Fest I’m uploading two pages of Kotting’s writing on filmmaking – culminating with his ‘eArthouse declaration of spurious intent’ – as a prompt for discussion. It’s a magnificent, rotting manifesto that references Werner Horzog, John Berger and rhubarb. Enjoy the festival.
‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’ Hemingway didn’t even need 40 characters to tell a whispered story that kicks like a mule. So you’d expect Twitter’s comparatively luxurious 140 characters to have delivered some hammerblows – especially since its fifth anniversary has prompted some useful appraisal of the platform’s non-fiction highlights.
The groundwork’s there. Flash Fiction’s succinct concertinaing of narrative continues to thrive online. A roundup by Wired even gleaned a companion piece to my favourite Alan Moore story -
Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time
- Alan Moore
When did videogames become so needy?
I’m playing two games at the moment. The first is Alan Wake, a big budget mystery/horror in the vein of Stephen King. It looks and sounds fantastic, has stunning production values and is so desperate to impress me I want to jump out the nearest window whenever I play it.
Then there’s Forget-Me-Not for iPhone, which looks like this.
Described as Pacman meets Rogue, (although I’d call it a mashup of Halls of the Things and British Bulldog) I think the reason I love it so much is it doesn’t give a damn about me.
My best idea for a story came to me when I was on a train and six years later it’s still rattling tracks through my head. Colourful, featherlight and pure, I fell in love with it the same way an artist might fall in love with a model or butterfly collector might a Grizzled Skipper.
The wilfully impractical unproduced shorts, feature length pilots and 130 page ‘bible’ I’ve put together since then have been fences to guard this spotless idea. Each too big or too small to be practical, they’re passive-aggressive attempts to resist the transformation into completed, imperfect output that would take life away from the purity of the original idea. ‘Story Execution’, indeed.
The thing is, filling your head full of fluttering ideas is just as inadvisable…
Never thought I’d write that as a headline. I’d been kicking around the idea of doing level three of the classic arcade game R-Type as a ‘Fighting Fantasy’ style multiple choice for a while though, and when Google Forms released logic branching functionality I had just the tale to try out in it.
I really enjoyed last night’s first #livescript on Alien, even if three viewings of the movie in two days exposed some flaws in that metal black armour. Setups like Parker’s avarice and Lambert and Ripley’s rivalry didn’t really get paid off; for every awesome character dilemma like the inner hatch, several fly past unexplored; and the break-neck third act ultimately comes at the cost of emotional engagement. These same flaws are sacrifices at the altar of the movie’s enduring mystery though, and if there wasn’t the back and forth of discussion I’d hoped for in this first exploration, the challenge of commenting on a film as it happens hasn’t put me off future trips…
Sequels, prequels and Predator monster-mashups have meddled with its DNA but the original Alien still casts a strange and terrifying shadow over a generation of dreamers. As a kid, it’s portentous, abstract one-sheet poster suggested to me a kind of grandiose fear, while gleefully described schoolyard testimonies and a library copy of Alan Dean Foster’s novelisation teased all the horror and none of the mystery of the experience til I finally caught the film on a tiny black and white portable.
These are the instructions for PONG(above), Atari’s first arcade videogame. Following the same abstract functionality as the game’s graphics, they’re the barest of structures, an almost blank screen for players to project their rivalries, victories and defeats upon.
But rules don’t have to be dead-eyed mantras. They can be creative. Bad Signal – Andrew Kenrick’s Convoy meets The Crazies Role Playing Game (RPG) scenario for the horror system Dead of Night – was the most impressive game I played at recent Sheffield RPG convention Furnace.
And its rules were beautiful.