@DifferentGames, @NextCityOrg and @TrIP_Orlando, Oh My!

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Screen shots from @deadquarewalking

Writing my MFA thesis has kept me pretty busy throughout the first quarter of 2014. My final thesis submission was approved this past week and as the dust settles, I am slowly getting re-oriented to life outside of writing, editing, defending, formatting, etc. an ETD.  I think I am now pretty much set to finally graduate on May 1! This in itself is such a thrill!

Yet it has dawned on me that I have had some really amazing and wonderful opportunities materialize over the past couple months including working with Pat Greene on TrIP, collaborating with TheArtStarter.com, presenting at Nathan Selikof’s Processing Meetup, being a guest on Ryan Price and Kathryn Neel’s BATT podcast and having my geo-social photography featured in The Orlandoan. I can’t thank all of these individuals and organizations enough for their support and promotion of my creative work. I’m definitely feeling the love in Orlando as well as in Brooklyn and Chattanooga!

I am beyond thrilled and honored that @deadquarewalking was featured as an arcade game selection this past weekend at the Different Games Conference in Brooklyn, NY.  We now have a working prototype published online as well! Thank you to everyone involved with Different Games for considering this project that myself and Dr. J. Michael Moshell have been working day and night on for the past several months.  The prototype is still somewhat barebones, but I think we have a thought-provoking concept which will continue to evolve.

This coming Wednesday, I head to Chattanooga, TN for Next City’s Vanguard Conference.  This is another mind-blowing opportunity, and I cannot wait to join the rest of the Vanguard 2014 class in Tennessee.  I think this is going to be a life-changing experience.

This has been a great year so far.  I truly believe the best is yet to come, and we still have a lot more work to do in terms of pedestrian and transit rider advocacy, community-building, coalition-forming, creative-placemaking, etc. in the Orlando metro region. I’ve also been behind on dedicating time to supporting Pat Greene with the TrIP project so I’m looking forward to focusing more energy on this important public art collective over the upcoming weeks. We have many, many, more submissions to post from #TrIP_Roanoke (which I unfortunately missed out on at the last minute…kind of a long story) and TrIP: The Knight Fantastic.

Onward!

 

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GAYME: The development, design and testing of an auto-ethnographic, documentary game about quarely wandering urban/suburban spaces in Central Florida

GAYME: The development, design and testing of an auto-ethnographic, documentary game about quarely wandering urban/suburban spaces in Central Florida

Announcing the Final Examination of David Thomas Moran for the degree of Master of Fine Arts

Date: Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Time: 2 p.m.
Room: UCF Visual Arts Building Conference Room
Thesis title: GAYME: The development, design and testing of an auto-ethnographic, documentary game about quarely wandering urban/suburban spaces in Central Florida

GAYME is a transmedia story-telling world whose primary goal has been to conceptually explore the dynamics of queering game design through the development of varying game prototypes. The final iteration of GAYME is @deadquarewalking. It is a documentary game and a performance art installation that documents a carless, gay man’s journey on Halloween to get to and from one of Orlando’s most well-known gay clubs – the Parliament House Resort. “The art of cruising” city streets to seek out queer/quare companionship particularly amongst gay, male culture(s) is well-documented in densely, populated cities like New York, San Francisco and London, but not so much in car-centric, urban environments like Orlando that are less oriented towards pedestrians. Cruising has been and continues to be risky even in pedestrian-friendly cities but in Orlando cruising takes on a whole other dimension of danger. In 2011-2012, The Advocate magazine named Orlando one of the gayest cities in America. Transportation for America also named the Orlando metropolitan region the most dangerous city in the country for pedestrians. Living in Orlando without a car can be deadly as well as a significant barrier to connecting with other people, especially queer/quare people, because of Orlando’s car-centric design. In Orlando, cars are sexy. At the same time, the increasing prevalence in gay, male culture(s) of geo-social, mobile phone applications using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and location aware services, such as Grindr and even FourSquare and Instagram, is shifting the way gay/queer/quare Orlandoans co-create social and sexual networks both online and offline. Urban and sub-urban landscapes have transformed into hybrid “techno-scapes” overlaying “the electronic, the emotional and the social with the geographic and the physical” (Hjorth 2011). With or without a car, gay men can still geo-socially cruise Orlando’s car-centric, street life with mobile devices. As such emerging media has become more pervasive, it has created new opportunities to quarely visualize Orlando’s “technoscape” through phone photography and hashtag metadata while also blurring lines between the artist and the curator, the player and the game designer.

This project particularly has evolved to employ game design as an exhibition tool for the visualization of geo-social photography through hashtag play. Using hashtags as a game mechanic generates metadata that potentially identifies patterns of play and “ways of seeing” across player experiences as they attempt to make meaning of the images they encounter in the game. @deadquarewalking also demonstrates the potential of game design and geo-social, photo-sharing applications to illuminate new ways of documenting and witnessing the urban landscapes that we both collectively and uniquely inhabit.

*In Irish culture, “quare” can mean “very” or “extremely” or it can be a spelling of the rural or Southern pronunciation of the word “queer.” Living in the American Southeast, I personally relate more to the term “quare” versus “queer.” Cultural theorist E. Patrick Johnson (2001) also argues for “quareness” as a way to question the subjective bias of whiteness in queer studies that risks discounting the lived experiences and material realities of people of color. Though I do not identify as a person of color and would be categorized as white or European American, I think “quareness” has an important critical application for considering how Orlando’s urban design is intersectionally racialized, gendered and classed.

Outline of Studies:
Major: Emerging Media M.F.A. – Digital Media Concentration

Educational Career:
B.A., 2005, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Committee in Charge:
Dr. J. Michael Moshell
Dr. Si-Jung Kim
Dr. Rudy McDaniel
Dr. Tison Pugh
Dr. M.C. Santana
Dr. Peter Smith
Dr. Stephanie Vie

Approved for distribution by J. Michael Moshell, Committee Chair, on March 11, 2014.

The public is welcome to attend.

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Body-Weapon

outforawalk

Out for a Walk, Digital Painting, Brushes app, iPad, David Moran, 2013

In pondering the queer modalities of [the suicide bomber], one notices a pastiche of oddities: a body machined together through metal and flesh, an assemblage of the organic and the inorganic; a death not of the self or of the other, but both simultaneously; self-annihilation as the ultimate form of resistance and self-preservation.  This body forces a reconciliation of opposites through their inevitable collapse –a perverse habitation of contradiction.  As a figure in the midst of always already dying even as it is the midst of becoming, like the homosexual afflicted with HIV, the suicide bomber sutures his or her status as sexually perverse.  Mbembe also points to the queer becoming of a suicide bomber—a corporeal experiential of “ballistics.” The dynamite strapped onto the body of a suicide bomber is not merely an appendage; the “intimacy of weapon with body reorients the assumed spatial integrity (coherence and concreteness) and individuality of the body that is the mandate of intersectional identities; instead we have the body-weapon.  The ontological affect of the body renders it a newly becoming body; queerly.

~ Queer Times, Queer Assemblages, Jasbir Puar, 2005, pg. 129

In Orlando, the pedestrian…the jaywalker…the street walker is a “traitor” to the societal norms and geo-political aspirations of the American South in ways similar to Puar’s discussion of the HIV-infected homosexual  or post-9/11 suicide bomber.

The pedestrian in Orlando threatens the suspension of disbelief which perpetuates car culture/motordom/automobile hegemony or what author Junot Díaz refers to as the “negative hallucinations” that bodies are not meant for public, street life and that pedestrian mobility is not a functional, acceptable or even a real form of movement. More than likely Marxist notions of commodity fetishism and false consciousness as well as Foucault’s considerations of technologies of self and power are at play here.

In a metropolitan region that has been labeled as the most dangerous city in the country for those who walk along/across/about/on/AGAINST metro Orlando’s streets and roads (or STROADs as Chuck Marohn might label much of Central Florida’s asphalt)…in a city that is dangerous by design, pedestrians controversially embody the social, economic and cultural forces at play that seek to keep certain bodies in their dictated places and spaces through the design and accessibility of urban infrastructure.

The pedestrian as a body-weapon is a visible, vulnerable and ultimately volatile form of resistance walking along/across/about/on/AGAINST the technological determinism of car culture, consumerism and ultimately sexual selection thinly veiled under the guise of the privileged, socioeconomic status conferred to those who own/rent/inherit/drive automobiles.

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A TrIP through Haussmann’s Paris: Creatively Investigating the Emergent City Modern

MedievalParis_Haussmann

A map of Paris before Haussmann redesigned the city.

“It is not, I think an accident that social critic Victor Hugo—one of thousands of republicans exiled under the empire—used the images of sewers to animate the persecution of Jean Valjean in his 1861 masterpiece , Les Misérables. Nor was it an accident that the new boulevards became a central character in the paintings of the Impressionist school and on the picture postcards of the era. The city’s transformation aroused the pain and the wonder of the population.

ModernParis_Haussmann

A map of Paris showing the Haussmann system’s implementation of boulevards, new buildings and other public works.

In 2000, I spent two months living in a neighborhood bounded by two great Haussmann* boulevards—Boulevard Saint-Michel and Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Prés.  Every day I walked through the old city into the new, examining the manner in which Haussmann had cut the great boulevards at an angle through the urban fabric and had pasted the new Paris over the old.”

~Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove, Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It

Caillebotte_Impressionism

Boulevard Haussmann in the Snow, Gustave Caillebotte, Completed 1881. Caillebotte’s paintings of Parisian urban life were somewhat controversial for their exaggerated perspective. Critics speculate this was a technique used to convey a sense of loneliness and alienation as the emerging edifices of the modern city came to engulf the city’s inhabitants.

As Dr. Thompson Fullilove states above, Parisian creatives of the time responded to their changing urban environment through writing and painting among other forms of artistic investigation. Charles Baudelaire’s poem The Swan is particularly well-known as a monument to the altered Parsian cityscape now inescapably Haussmann’s Paris.  Years later, Walter Benjamin’s essays on Baudelaire would popularize Baudelaire’s flâneur or the wanderer of the modern city – an urban spectator/investigator and symbol of the alienation of both the city and capitalism.  Below is an English translation of the poem:

ANDROMACHE, I think of you! The stream,
The poor, sad mirror where in bygone days
Shone all the majesty of your widowed grief,
The lying Simoïs flooded by your tears,
Made all my fertile memory blossom forth
As I passed by the new-built Carrousel.
Old Paris is no more (a town, alas,
Changes more quickly than man’s heart may change);
Yet in my mind I still can see the booths;
The heaps of brick and rough-hewn capitals;
The grass; the stones all over-green with moss;
The débris, and the square-set heaps of tiles.

There a menagerie was once outspread;
And there I saw, one morning at the hour
When toil awakes beneath the cold, clear sky,
And the road roars upon the silent air,
A swan who had escaped his cage, and walked
On the dry pavement with his webby feet,
And trailed his spotless plumage on the ground.
And near a waterless stream the piteous swan
Opened his beak, and bathing in the dust
His nervous wings, he cried (his heart the while
Filled with a vision of his own fair lake):
“O water, when then wilt thou come in rain?
Lightning, when wilt thou glitter?”

Sometimes yet
I see the hapless bird — strange, fatal myth–
Like him that Ovid writes of, lifting up
Unto the cruelly blue, ironic heavens,
With stretched, convulsive neck a thirsty face,
As though he sent reproaches up to God!

II.

Paris may change; my melancholy is fixed.
New palaces, and scaffoldings, and blocks,
And suburbs old, are symbols all to me
Whose memories are as heavy as a stone.
And so, before the Louvre, to vex my soul,
The image came of my majestic swan
With his mad gestures, foolish and sublime,
As of an exile whom one great desire
Gnaws with no truce. And then I thought of you,
Andromache! torn from your hero’s arms;
Beneath the hand of Pyrrhus in his pride;
Bent o’er an empty tomb in ecstasy;
Widow of Hector — wife of Helenus!
And of the negress, wan and phthisical,
Tramping the mud, and with her haggard eyes
Seeking beyond the mighty walls of fog
The absent palm-trees of proud Africa;
Of all who lose that which they never find;
Of all who drink of tears; all whom grey grief
Gives suck to as the kindly wolf gave suck;
Of meagre orphans who like blossoms fade.
And one old Memory like a crying horn
Sounds through the forest where my soul is lost . . .
I think of sailors on some isle forgotten;
Of captives; vanquished . . . and of many more.

~The Swan, Charles Baudelaire, 1857

*Georges-Eugène Haussmann was selected by Emperor Napoleon III to redesign the urban landscape of Paris between 1853 and 1870.  The extensive development program erected new boulevards, parks and public works throughout the city.  Haussmann’s system arguably improved the quality of life in Paris combating the spread of disease, improving traffic circulation and updating many of the city’s buildings.  It is estimated that 60% of the city’s buildings were affected by the project with much of Paris’ medieval structures dismantled arguably transforming what was once a medieval city into a modern metropolis still recognizable today.

Critics of Haussmann argue that the development projects which were alleged to also help the lives of the poor simply dispersed lower-income residents to the suburbs so that bourgeoisie housing could be built in place of neighborhoods the poor formerly inhabited (a phenomenon many refer to as urban renewal or gentrification).    Lewis Mumford additionally claimed that the widening of Parisian streets was also a tool for the authoritarian regime to better control the populace and more easily quell social resistance.  The displacement of working-class communities also arguably led to a significant social disruption that made it more difficult for these communities to organize and challenge policies that negatively affected them.

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@deadquarewalking by David Thomas Moran

My participation in The Corridor Project’s Transit Interpretation Project (TrIP)

The Transit Interpretation Project: TrIP

David Thomas Moran participated in TrIP Phase One on November 1st.

Thoughts on TrIP and LYNX from a Somewhat Regular Rider

A voice for LYNX riders. As a graduate student whose livelihood has depended on the LYNX bus system over the past two years, I find much hope in the Transit Interpretation Project (TrIP).  I’m beyond thrilled to see such a diverse and creative group of individuals intentionally engaging with LYNX.  I look forward to witnessing how TrIP collectively raises Orlandoans’ consciousness of the bus system and gives voice to an often overlooked and misunderstood sphere of public life in the region.  Some might say that “nobody rides the bus” but actually many people do.  It’s just statistically must smaller than the number of people who commute by car but not any less worthy of a voice.

For me riding the bus is not a novelty or a chance…

View original post 1,943 more words

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Where Film Marries Video Game via The New York Times

“In the documentary world…we can learn a lot from gaming logic. Both worlds are ready to merge now — the game industry and the documentary world.” ~David Dufresne

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A documentary in the form of an interactive video game, “Fort McMoney” chronicles life in Fort McMurray, Alberta, a Canadian oil industry boomtown.

Below is an excerpt from the article “Where Film Marries Video Game” via The New York Times…

The game element of “Fort McMoney” involves no shooting and no acrobatics. Instead, it is inspired by SimCity, the influential community-building game from the designer Will Wright.

Mr. Dufresne, a lifelong gamer who coded a text-based adventure at the age of 14, said that Mr. Wright’s concept was all about capitalism and provided a synergy between documentary and game. “Capitalism is the biggest game in the world,” Mr. Dufresne said. “Everyone plays it every day. And Fort McMurray is the most capitalist city in the world. That’s why we call it ‘Fort McMoney.’ ”

Those employed in Fort McMurray’s oil industry can earn, on average, 178,000 Canadian dollars a year. But Mr. Dufresne, a Paris-born former journalist for the left-leaning newspaper Libération, noted that “a teacher and a doctor were showing up at a food bank because they couldn’t afford meals.”

For Mr. Wright, a founder of Syntertainment, a company whose goal is to blend reality with entertainment, reading about issues is one thing. Being in the driver’s seat “to make decisions yourself,” he said by email, allows for something deeper. Though he had not yet seen the final version of “Fort McMoney,” he said, “Games are becoming an important part of our way of seeing the world.”

The creators of “Fort McMoney” hope that people see their effort as far more than a gimmick.

“My goal was that the game should never get in the way of the narrative; it should complement it,” said Guillaume Perrault, one of the project’s game designers.”

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TrIP Orlando t-shirts are a reality!

TrIP Orlando T-shirts Are a Reality

TrIP Orlando or the Transit Interpretation Project is now going on day 26. Participating artists will begin reporting out on their experiences December 1 via the TrIP blog.

Shirts can be purchased for $18 from Patrick Greene, the Director of the Gallery at Avalon Island which is located in Downtown Orlando. Feel free to visit Patrick at the gallery and buy a shirt! See http://avalongallery.org/ for operating hours. All profits go to the project.

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Games Rules as Art by Rod Humble

Games Rules as Art by Rod Humble

“There are many parts of a working computer game that dictate and translate player responses. World geometry, physics, music, character design; it’s tempting to regard the game’s actual rules as less important, modifying them in support of simulation systems and other game elements. Instead, studying the rules in advance and crafting a message from them represents one of the clearest and easiest creative opportunities for game designer. It is within these rules that the players will inhabit and practice their own art.” ~Game Rules as Art, Rod Humble

Rod Humble has been active in the computer game industry for over two decades and currently is the CEO of Linden Lab, creator of the virtual world Second Life. Humble is also known for his work with Electronic Arts, more specifically The Sims 2 and The Sims 3.

Check out his concept game The Marriage.

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Why Play Me?

Why Play Me?

Games can be a playful and pleasurable pastime. Cultural anthropologist Susan Ortner also writes that the idea of a game can create new opportunities for understanding how individuals negotiate and survive real-world obstacles and situations they encounter in their daily living.

As a documentary game-as-art, Play Me builds upon Ortner’s notion of the “serious game” in cultural studies as well as the artistic traditions of the Surrealists, Dadaists, and Situationists International (SI) in their subversion of the “normal” function of objects and spaces particularly urban spaces.

Play Me uses the game “Memory” as a tool to exhibit documentary photography capture through the geo-social mobile application Instagram. The photography selected seeks to serve as a witness to individual moments of encounter over the past two years that have particularly impacted how I experience and view Orlando’s urban landscape both as an artist and inhabitant.

Wealth, poverty, protest, mobility, consumerism, tourism and connectedness are some of the themes Play Me explores through location-based photography made possible by the emergent technology of mobile devices.

Smart Phones in particular, for those who can afford them, now enable emergent ways of interacting with spaces and places in virtual and physical ways instantaneously. Play Me is my viewpoint of the city streets I wander as a pedestrian and a photographer in a sprawling, suburban metropolis.

Ultimately, Play Me becomes somewhat of a metaphor for our own individual and collective perceptions and memories of place. What do we choose or choose not to see or acknowledge or remember about the places we inhabit here in Orlando? What do you see?

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Play Me 2.0 funding campaign launched on TheArtStarter

Play Me 2.0 funding campaign launched on TheArtStarter

Excited to announce that TheArtStarter has helped me launch a funding campaign so I can move forward with designing and producing the next iteration of my game-as-art installation Play Me. Even a small donation of $5 would go a long way!

My goal is to raise $2,000 over the next two months.

Please share with your friends and encourage them to donate. I appreciate you donating as well if you can. As an artist with limited means, this is huge to have the support of a funding project like The Art Starter.

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