The scene:

It’s stormy and dark outside. The house you are in is large, old. Ancient, almost. You wander aimlessly through the echoing, empty hallways, your nose filled with the musty smells of wood polish and rain.

A turn takes you to a dim library, of sorts, a book repository. The bookshelves stack high around you, huddling over each other as though whispering great secrets. But it is silent in here, as it is silent in the rest of the house. The bookshelves seem to smile softly, beckoning you over in a strange, silent, motionless, way.

You enter. Within the huddle of the shelves is a single, large armchair. It seems to engulf you as you sink into it. It is at once warm and cool, easing your body down into quiet rest. The rain outside beats a gentle rhythm upon the window pane, a quiet tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap, as it whispers so kindly, so sweetly to you:

“Let me tell you a story.”Continue reading

Mirror Hall

In the Kingdom of Korvar, roughly 75% of the citizens live beneath the earth in order to seek shelter from the desert heat. In order to support agriculture and general health, enormous mirrors were built and set up in Mirror Halls which channeled surface sunlight down into the vast underground cities. Thrice a day: at 6 am, 12 noon, and 6 pm, a bell tolls and the Mirror Guard pull cords which shift the giant mirrors into different configurations in order to optimally channel the sunlight based on the sun’s shifting position.

For this soundscape, I wanted to achieve a few effects:

  • an echoing cavern inhabited by people
  • a distant bell
  • the giant mirrors grinding and shifting into position
  • the gears, springs, and various mechanisms that lock the mirrors in position

I didn’t want to download any sounds, so all the sounds in this clip were recorded by me, using my handphone.

Crowd

I actually recorded the crowd sounds last semester, for the final 4D film project. I decided to reuse the clip as it had a nice mix of background chatter and non-distinct foreground chatter. I added some audio panning to add a bit of variety, and then added a second non-panning reverb to give the impression of distance and cavernous expanse. I also recorded a backdrop of my fan buzzing and doing its thing, then put it into Audacity with the Wahwah filter in order to create the impression of channeled drafts of wind through the enormous caverns.

Bell

For the bell, I was trying to look for something that could give a resonant metallic tone. So I used anything metal that I could find in my hall room. The result: clothes hanger on towel rack.


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I then pitched it down, added echoes, reverbs, and gave it its own backup reverb track. Really sounds like a big bell now.

Mirrors

For the shifting mirrors, I wanted the sound of giant slabs moving, as well as the sound of slightly rusted ropes grinding through gears and pulley systems. For that, I used the grainy texture of my hall desk, and the plastic edge of my charging cable. Pitch and reverb. Everything is pitch and reverb.

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Machines

Only two sounds were actually employed: the sound of my door lock, and the sound of the door latch. The latch produced a sharp, springing sound, while the lock produced a grinding shifting sound. The latch sound was therefore used for the sounds of the mirrors clicking into place, while the lock was used for the intermediate sounds of grinding up into position. Of course, that was after the mandatory echo/reverb/pitch pass.

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Being a shooter, the very first thing I thought of was to have the subject be my pistol. I’ve also been playing this excellent game called This War of Mine, which is a modern warfare/survival game from the point of view of civilian survivors just trying to hold out till ceasefire day. So.

A gun, from the point of view of _______________, is __________________.

victim, threat

aggressor, power

desperate person, no longer a choice

trigger-happy maniac, a toy

collector, precious/priceless

survivor, a means to an end

gun manufacturer, a product

soldier, his wife

sportsperson, a darling baby

bullet, propulsion

gunpowder, potential

air cylinder, docking bay

state, insurance

hateful person, a convenient solution

hiding, loud

armoury officer, string of numbers/statistic

hand, heavy

target, familiar face


However, after I made this list, I realised that a lot of them have repeated/very similar ideas, so I decided to take a look at some other subjects.

Words in the point of view of a reader are a world.

Words in the point of view of propagandists are control.

Words in the point of view of a poet are the soul.

Words in the point of view of a computer are light and shape.

Money in the point of view of paper is ink.

Money in the point of view of a college student is debt.

Money in the point of view of post-WW1 Germans is scrap.

Mirror in the point of view of the unconscious is fog.

Mirror in the point of view of the mentally unstable is cracked.

Mirror in the point of view of the supernatural and undead is tattletale.

Mirror in the point of view of Snow White’s evil queen is the beginning of the end.

Mirror in the point of view of Medusa is stone.

Mirror in the point of view of glass is polished.

Mirror in the point of view of light is rebound.


Some of my art inspirations/references:

I plan to do a digital collage, with ideally a somber tint and hopefully slightly surreal.

 

As previously established, Korvar has very little by way of law enforcement, and most of the kingdom exists in a sort of perpetual anarchy. However, the laws still exist, and a few are actually enforced.

1.1- No civilian is permitted to bear firearms.

Civilians found possessing firearms are required to immediately surrender the weapon and pay a hefty fine to the crown, or else be detained and tried. Depending on the outcome of the trial, the offender may either serve a jail term or be executed. If the civilian in question returns the weapon to the crown of their own volition, and no other firearms are found in their possession later, they will not receive any punishment.

1.2 – Only the Royal Guard and the Mirror Guard, and the Imperial Army, may bear firearms.

Members of these groups are therefore responsible for the ownership of their firearms, and any found to have sold, traded, or misplaced their weapon will be summarily fined, fired, have all rights and privileges revoked, stripped of rank, and blacklisted. The law has only been recently amended, where before the amendment offenders were executed via guillotine, and before that, by being flayed then burnt alive.

1.3 – Exceptionally long blades also constitute as weapons, and civilian ownership is prohibited.

This is a law rarely enforced, as different regions have different cultural standards for ‘exceptionally long’, and the law books offer no further clarification or specifics on the acceptable range of lengths for blades. Most regions have come to the general consensus that blades north of one meter are probably too long, however.

2 – Defacing or damaging public utilities, such as the Mirror Halls and wells, is prohibited.

The Mirror Halls serve to provide the underground with light. Damaging or obscuring any of the mirrors deprives large sections of the underground from receiving sunlight, and offenders caught will be arrested and subject to whipping once a week for the duration of their incarceration. If the mirrors are damaged beyond repair, the offender will by executed at the guillotine. Children are not exempt. The law is not as strict regarding the wells: vandals of the wells do not face the threat of execution.

3 – All civilians must pay an annual tax to the crown.

For the upkeep of the above mentioned public utilities and salaries of the guards. The Guard rarely has to involve themselves in the enforcement of this law. Most citizens are quite compliant, and offenders are usually punished by their own communities. Tax-avoidant communities, or tribes, do exist. Most times, other tribes will refuse to associate or trade with them, otherwise organised raids will be led against them as ‘acceptable targets’. They rarely last long.

Hello, my name is Madeline…

Rational

…and I am Rational.

I chose to use ‘rational’ as a way to describe my somewhat inability to participate socially. I am what some would call a ‘low maintenance friend’: whether it’s because I don’t see the point of keeping so frequently in touch with people or remembering anniversaries and birthdays, very frequently I find myself losing contact with old friends… and not feeling the least bit sad about it. I often don’t see the point in telling lies for the sake of sparing feelings and I sometimes unintentionally upset people by, almost compulsively, correcting their grammar, word choice, or logic during casual conversation. Whenever I get upset because of a social reason, I am usually able to talk myself out of those negative emotions (and into apathy). This¬†so called ‘extreme rationality’ (or maybe just ‘heartless callousness’, depending on who you asked) can be said to be the reason why I tend to feel quite isolated or disconnected from others, and I chose to represent that disconnect by using a boring, plain, inexpressive font like Calibri for my name, surrounded by colourful, fancy fonts with warping effects on some to represent other, more expressive, emotive, and social people. To emphasize the disconnect, I added a small white barrier between my name and the others’.

I used Photoshop to type and layer the fonts, flipping the layers and playing with transparency and layer blending to create the noisiness and messiness I needed. I especially wanted the mess to show how social situations can become so bizarre and overwhelming to me, especially in large crowds for extended periods of time.

Rational

First pass of all the names I used. It looks quite plain.

Rational2

As you can see, I duplicated the names layer twice, whereupon I flipped one horizontally. I also added layer effects.

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…and I am an Introvert.

Following my ‘rational’ trait, and somewhat stunted ability to relate instinctively to others on an emotional level, I can become very exhausted very quickly by social situations, deeply treasuring my ‘alone time’. This love for solitude is also one of the reasons why I can’t stand staying in hall (roommates and public restrooms no thank you). I hence chose the imposing image of a wrought iron fence to invoke the idea of PRIVATE PROPERTY DO NOT TRESPASS. I intentionally left out a gate for the same reason as why I topped the fence with spear tips: I don’t want people to get any ideas that getting in is in any way an option at all. I also chose to use insular script for a few reasons. Visually, the letters are very round and appear self-contained, invoking the imagery of someone curled into themselves rather than expanding out into others’ space. The roundness also fits neatly into the circle design common in most wrought iron fences. Also, the name ‘insular’ is something of a pun which implies ‘insulation’ and isolation.

I used pen to draw this piece by hand, as opposed to the digital piece above, as it nears my personal space rather than the version of myself that exists in social spaces.

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…and I love to World-Build.

As an introvert, the ‘safest’ way for me to interact with the world, in a sense, is through fiction. World-building is an exercise that allows me to take all the external stimulation and knowledge I have gathered and consolidate them into fictional places and objects and people that I have control and understanding over. As someone who loves logic and reason, another part of world-building I enjoy is understanding how a myriad of different events across time and space come together to frame a setting wherein a narrative takes place, and at the same time will continue to exist independent of the narrative (the story only ends with your death if you think the story is about you, after all). Of course, the third reason why I like it is simply because dreaming up imaginary things like dragons will always be hella fun.

This piece is in the form of a tracing paper collage, with several key figures (a slug, a diver, a small soldier, two ladies, a centaur, and a pair of dragons) over everything else, coloured with colour pencils, and the paper cut away to form my name in the negative space. My name represents here the narrative, or the character’s path through the narrative, and the key figures are what the narrative directly interacts with. The vagueness of the outline implies an ability to go beyond, and discover the other hidden pieces of lore that form the world, which is represented by watercolour drawings on more scraps of tracing paper layered over each other. These pieces show architecture, geography, biology, botany, fashion, symbols, genealogy, and weapon design. These pieces also sticks out of the bounds of the A5 sheet, furthering implying a much, much larger world. The last ‘e’ of my name is stylised as a globe with crumpled pieces of tracing paper, half painted blue and green to represent the world that is encountered and seen within the narrative and supplied lore, and half painted black to represent the rest of the world that must exist as well, but has not yet been elaborated on by the creator or yet discovered by the reader/player.

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Moving into the tactile, 3D collage, it shows a closer relationship to my personal world compared to the initial 2D pieces. World-building is at once a hobby that I’ve turned to because of my introversion, yet it is a hobby that allows me to comfortably look outwards from, and is a process that I am happy to share with others (and am interested to see from others as well).

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…and I am a Gamer.

What better way to experience built worlds than through games? Specifically, role-playing games (RPGs). RPGs are games wherein the player creates and/or takes control of a character or number of characters and then proceed to interact with the game world to achieve some sort of objective. It is in this interaction with the game’s world where the player can experience the world-building of the creators. Whether it’s cowering from intimidating Qunari warriors, fighting a Rachni swarm on a distant moon, finally getting into that weird pink house beside Napstablook’s,¬†reading an interesting bit of dialogue in Lavender Town, or chowing down on some Lembas while gazing into the Mirrormere, every step you take in a game world is an exciting new piece of lore waiting to be unearthed. (I also recommend doing a Google search on all the referenced games, and then playing them. They are excellent.)

I chose to show the naming screen, both to fit into the project requirements, and also because this is the screen that usually marks the end of character creation (if any), before launching into the game proper. This particular style of character naming will also be especially familiar to old Gameboy players, along with the frustration experienced in some games where there were character limits (usually 3 to 10 characters, depending on the game) and you could not fit the entire name you wanted.

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Pokémon naming screen

Naming

Undertale naming screen

naming_j

Mother naming screen

register2

Zelda naming screen

I love playing games, and watching others play games (Let’s Play!), and playing games with others (unfortunately our schedules have gone a little out of whack), and others watching me play games (sometimes, and only if they’re not annoying). Games are one of those things that I am most passionate about, whether I’m alone or with fellow fans. This piece is a 4D interactive piece, with two functioning buttons that slide the ‘l’ in and out, becoming even more personal and inviting than even the previous 3D collage. In a way, art and games are really the ways in which I best relate to and interact with others (you’ll notice that I hardly upload any pictures of myself onto social media, my Instagram and Facebook accounts are filled almost exclusively with my drawings).

The buttons are connected by a strip or cardboard that slides when one end is pressed, pushing the 'l' written on it in and out of the viewing window.

The buttons can be pressed! Please feel free to do so.

The buttons can be pressed! Please feel free to do so.

The buttons are connected by a single strip of cardboard that slides when one end is pressed, pushing the ‘l’ written on it in and out of the viewing window.

Korvarrin architecture typically comes in two flavours: the flat style, and the tall style. Although as with many things, there are other styles and fusions of styles that exist.

Flat Style

Also known as the slum style, this simple style is characterised as a cuboid shape, with flat walls and mostly flat, gently sloping roofs, with anywhere between one to four floors. As a style developed on the hot surface, the roofs have barriers with small gutters at the corners. This allows rain water to accumulate on the roofs and slowly run off, cooling down the building below.

The windows are typically unadorned from the outside, occasionally they will sport thin slats that curve out and away from the window, redirecting the rainwater away from the window opening. Flat, smooth walls with hardly any form of protruding ornamentation means nothing gets blown off or torn down when the worst of the desert winds hit.

The walls are usually made of mud, and occasionally surrounding plants will grow up and into the walls. This is usually allowed as plants help further cool the house and, if they flower, can provide food in the form of fruits, although people might choose to uproot them if the roots threaten to break the integrity of the walls. A small step is always built under the door, elevating the entrance slightly above ground, to prevent flooding during the rainy season.

This style is also known as the slum style as it was imported to the underground by surface-dwellers moving underground in a second wave of ‘immigration’. This second wave was larger than the first, and many settled in extremely crowded communes. The poverty and desperation of these communes became associated with the architecture, and even if many buildings in the underground now use the flat style, the nickname of ‘slum’ style has stuck till this day.

Flat

Tall Style

The tall style was a style that is said to date¬†back to the Time of the Old Sea, where it was employed widely on the surface. For the reason it has earned the alternate moniker of ‘old’ style. The older, grander, and more spacious parts of the underground are filled with buildings in this style.

With sharp, steeply sloping, concave roofs, this style is designed to let water run off as swiftly and easily as possible. Although it doesn’t rain underground, the earth absorbs the massive amounts of rain water that falls on the surface during the rainy season and empties itself out slowly over time into the underground below as dripping water. Roofs on lower levels are also usually equipped with a gently sloping gutter running along the outer edge which helps channel away water to the drainage system.

This style is tall, skinny, and round, and range anywhere between two to seven floors tall. The reason why the taller buildings can support so much weight is because they are typically built into the side of the underground caverns, sometimes from the very same mud and earth, making distinguishing the natural mud walls from the constructed earthen walls of the building from the outside an impossible task. Round arched windows and doorways littering the walls also serve to lighten the walls and support the upper levels.

Some of the newer buildings in the old sections of the underground show fusions between the tall and flat styles, where side rooms and storage spaces have adopted the flat style’s boxy shape, or have circular rooms with flat roofs.

Tall

Most Korvarrin buildings are adorned with icons of the High Ones, usually in the form of painting or relief carving. Even if the inhabitants of the buildings themselves are not Dracoists, the builders might have been, or the architects, or maybe they just accepted it as a part of Korvarrin visual culture. Two dragons facing each other is usually a depiction of Korthet and Varros, a single dragon with large twisting horns is Venya, and a single dragon with six wavy horns is Tod. The depictions can be extremely elaborate, with individual scales meticulously detailed, though just as often, the icons are simplified to the point where they are a simple series of abstract swirls.

 

 

 

With the assignment requirement being cut from 6 to 4 pieces, I guess I can breathe a tiny sigh of relief.

I have chosen Introvert, Gamer, World-Building, and Rational as my final 4 ideas.

Introvert

Going on my initial idea of using wrought iron fences as a physical embodiment of my desire to keep people/crowds out, I went to google some common designs for these fences.

Fences

It seems that the most common type of iron fencing are actually very simple, which I suppose is preferable, as it is meant to serve the functional purpose to warding rather than the social purpose of being aesthetically impressive. Taking on the idea of name seals/stamps, I can incorporate the insular script lettering into the common circle/ring patterns many of these fences seem to employ.01_Uncial Script

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As can be seen, insular script already has a very circular, self-contained look about it, and should mesh quite well within the rings of the fence.

Gamer

With Chinese New Year, I have acquired materials! 20160212_222518

Behold! Ponkan box.

The cardboard is smooth and the box is huge, so I should have plenty of material to work comfortably with.

Given my limited ability to craft a functional interactive object however, I have chosen a simpler design. Rather than a Gameboy Color, I will make it resemble a Playstation Portable.Game_Boy_Colorvspsp_3000

Like so:

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Now that the buttons are clearly on either side of the screen, the left-to-right sliding mechanism to change the letter on the screen should be easier to make than the up-to-left-to-right-to-down mechanism if the buttons had been at the bottom of the screen like in the Gameboy.

Rational

I decided to go with flooding the screen with names in different fonts and colours.

Rational

It’s mostly done; still looks a little plain though. I’ll fiddle around a little more to see what I can do with the layers.

World-Building

I haven’t actually physically progressed on this one. The blueprint idea shared in the group consult by Andrew seemed interesting, but there’s a lot more to world-building than the progression of a single building/item/aspect. Perhaps I can expand on that by using pieces of tracing paper, and drawing/writing various ideas and concepts down in scraps. The scraps can gradually amalgamate over the course of letters and finally come together in the form of a sphere/globe at the end of my name (the roundness of ‘e’ lending itself well to this idea as well).