It’s been a long time in coming, but I’m very happy to announce the official launch of Precision Targets, a collaboration with scholar Caren Kaplan that uses a hybrid comic/essay format to explore the militarization of everyday life through technologies like GPS. Precision Targets places the user inside a cube containing six parallel stories told through interactive comic panels that are married to threads of commentary by Kaplan.
Precision Targets was my first collaboration with illustrator Ezra Claytan Daniels, and my first experiment with digital comics. Each story consists of four panels which can be browsed by rotating a cube. Individual panels (some of which contain animation and interactivity) can be entered and navigated with the mouse. Every panel has associated commentary by Kaplan which can be expanded by clicking “more”. Clicking “more” again further expands the commentary to a full-screen view for more in-depth reading, making it possible for users to switch between visual, textual, or hybrid reading modes at will. (Be sure to try adjusting the window size; the piece will adapt to whatever aspect ratio you like.)
One element of the project that can be easily missed is the Index, a force-directed SpringGraph visualization of the image and textual elements that make up the piece (you can access this feature by clicking “Menu” and then “Index"). You’ll see the individual graphic elements that make up each panel linked together in an interactive network diagram—to my knowledge, the first time a visualization like this has been applied to the individual layers of comic book panels (feel free to correct me if I’m in error).
This project was conceived before the current “motion comics” trend, so I’m very curious what people will think of the approach, which takes a different tack than most works labeled as such.
This Thursday, January 29 from 5:00 - 7:00 pm, UCLA’s Art | Science Center & Lab [directions] is hosting an opening reception for a three-week exhibit of two documentary projects by Sharon Daniel: Public Secrets and the forthcoming Blood Sugar—any interested Angelenos are welcome. I worked with Sharon designing and programming both projects. Here’s a description of Blood Sugar:
Blood Sugar is a “new media documentary” that examines the social and political construction of poverty, alienation, and addiction in American society through the eyes of those who live it. Blood Sugar provides an interactive interface to an audio archive of conversations with 24 current and former injection drug users recorded at the HIV Education and Prevention Program of Alameda County and in California state prisons. Since addicts must fear encounters with regimes of enforcement, they are afraid to be seen-but they do want to be heard. Theirs are the most important voices in the discourse around addiction, public health, poverty and belonging in America. Through the stories of those most affected by addiction, Blood Sugar challenges us to address question such as, what is the social and political status of the addicted? Is the addict considered fully human, diseased, possessed or wholly “other” and thus rendered ideologically appropriate to her status as less than human?
Barring technical issues, you’ll be able to navigate Blood Sugar with a Wii remote and nunchuk at the opening, which makes for quite an immersive experience. We’d love to see you there.
Got the happy news yesterday that Ruben & Lullaby snagged a nomination in the Independent Games Festival Mobile. A lot of midnight oil was burned trying to make the entry deadline--I’m grateful for the response, and all props to Ezra Claytan Daniels for his beautiful artwork for the game (see this post for links to some of his really excellent graphic novel work). It’s been about 10 years since I was last at the Game Developer’s Conference (while working at Inscape on games like The Dark Eye), so It’ll be good to be there again, especially now that it’s held in San Francisco.
SoCal folk: come on out to 2009’s first meeting of LA Flash, this coming Wednesday, January 21st, from 7 - 10 pm—I’ll be giving a talk called “Music, Lyrics & the Wii Remote: Creating ‘Swing,’" followed by Amir Fischer covering “The Emerging market of 3D in Casual Gaming,” a raffle, and networking. I’m going to cover some background relating to the creation of “Swing,” and provide a brief introduction to WiiFlash, the ActionScript library that allows Flash to talk to the Wiimote, nunchuk, classic controller, and balance board. Would love to see you there!
Well, almost exactly six months after I got my iPhone, I’m happy to announce that Ruben & Lullaby, my first game for the iPhone and iPod touch, is now available on the App Store. Ruben & Lullaby is the first of a planned series of “opertoons"--stories you play like musical instruments--and I’m very excited about how this project has turned out. Many thanks to Ezra Claytan Daniels, who did the wonderful illustrations for the project and has been a great collaborator along the way. Thanks also to beta testers George Loyer, Mitchell Whitelaw, and Greg J. Smith for invaluable feedback.