Rafael Fajardo
Director, SWEAT collaborative
Associate Professor,
Emergent Digital Practices
University of Denver

 

Creative Research Projects Statement

The Work
The work presented in this portfolio is a coherent slice of my creative output, that covers digital media works completed between 1999 and the present. This linear narrative demands that I artificially flatten threads of thought and experimentation that occured simultanously into a sequential stream.

Expressive Media for an Industrialized and Globalized Society
My creative activity is about cultural representation; about giving voice to my personal background and to those stories and populations who have been underrepresented. I have been working on the militant fringes of both art and design practices. For the past ten years my medium has been digital. Artifacts of digital media are different from other artistic media in that they can gain value not from scarcity but from being reproduced in multiplicity. There is a democracy of access to work that can be infinitely reproduced. Design practitioners are comfortable in the realm of the industrialized multiple.

I have been interested in creating work that is telematic in the sense proposed by Roy Ascott, but that had it's beginnings in Fluxus and other conceptual art movements, that is to say work that is completed by the viewer/user/participant.

I am trying to evolve a contemporary digital activism. I have sought to model alternative, marginal practices not privileged by the prevailing logic of the marketplace, most recently making videogames and videogame infrastructures that can behave as cultural critique. I have also sought to turn market practices to critical ends, making objects that are – or can be – mass produced to carry subversive content. I am creating a multi-valent critique, some levels of which will only be accessible by other digital artists. I think simultaneously of the multi-level narrative of Beowulf, and the multi-level satire of Bugs Bunny.

I have made it a part of my practice to partner the work with contextualizing essays and to disseminate the essays through scholarly channels. I make, and I write.

History
It is useful to acknowledge my participation in an intellectual and practical heritage that treats design as a multi-faceted discipline: to whit; design as an investigative methodology; design as critical practice; design as an expression of social reform; design as a tradition of craft; design as a planning function for industry; design as reflective practice; designer as change-agent; design as storytelling. This list of facets is not exhaustive but sufficient for my purposes here.

I use of the phrase Creative Research Projects to describe my approach. My formal training in graphic design presented me with the possibility of using design and designerly practice as an investigative method. My graduate formation extended this idea into the potential for design to act as a critical method and to articulate a critical practice. Both of these positions were then considered experimental and marginal, and they are still outside of the mainstream of design practices. I have spent my career thus far attempting to assert a designerly practice that is both investigative and critical. I have developed a practice that begins with the formulation of a generative, creative, research question, that follows the question where it may lead, and that disseminates the results of the exploration.

visual expression for a post-pop sensibility
Search for Latino cultural iconography within the US among the artifacts of mass media and manufacturing resulted in brands and characters: Speedy Gonzales, Zorro, Frito Bandito, Zorro, Chico (Freddie Prinz), Narcos on Miami Vice, and Juan Valdez. These would become my raw material. I would be working with kitsch and with cliché, and using dadaist detournment – a kind of intellectual jujitsu. I would embrace and appropriate the scornful object in the manner of the post-colonial critique. These scornful objects – as I've called them here – are complex, simultaneously joyful and hurtful, they require a nuanced approach to critique.

Initial, fumbling attempts at producing media that was digital and that reflected and expressed its digital nature. Looking for a kind of warmth and intimacy. Working against the "shiny". Experiments in tactical media, that is to say, images, videos, sound, that can be recontextualized and redeployed. Experimenting with the idiom of the thirty second commercial, and expanding length by exploring the loop.

early experiments in digital video
These experiments resulted in the suite of digital video pieces called the Blessings of Liberty. I did not want the pieces to be “video” in the sense that they would resonate with television. Rather I wanted them to have an uncomfortable relationship with the edges of the frame that housed them, then a 4:3 ratio. I wanted them to play with temporal geometry and to be small, tight, and highly disciplined. The scale of the work was never intended for projection, instead it was intended for the intimate spaces of “personal” computers. The aspect ratios I chose would never allow them to fit comfortably on the display. My images would simultanously call attention to themselves and establish a relationship with whatever else the viewer had on their computer's “mind”. The very shape of the pixel – square, as opposed to television's rectangle – made my images an uncomfortable fit on NTSC screens, and to interlace the signal would destroy much of the delicacy of the images I had constructed. No, these were inteded to be only and forever digital. This uncompromising position kept them from exhibition in film festivals, video festivals, and even an early digital video festival. These festivals insisted that the work be submitted in NTSC form on standard VHS tape. The images would fall apart and be compromised by the conversion to the older technology.

Future incorporates found footage of bulldozers with some animations that I created and a text I wrote. The image of bulldozers, construction equipment, playing soccer, seemed absurd and made me sad. The narrative is one of anxiety about the relationship(s) between enabling technologies and the future(s) they enable.

As I was mulling over the Speedy Gonzalez material I had collected, I began to look more closely at Juan Valdez in the same way; the resulting piece was Cesi n'est pas Juan. I found out that Juan was an early adopter of the World-Wide Web. He had a substantial presence in 1998. I mined that site for all of the information that I could acquire, and noticed a funny misstep in the handling of Juan that was way out of character with the way the ad agency had treated Juan through their history together. The image, an animated GIF comprised of three frames, made Juan look like he was having uncontrollable spasms. It was very undignified. I took that animation apart and found a couple more images on the site that I could use to re-choreograph Juan's dance into a more stately “indigenous” movement. I also set his new choreography to music.

This small exercise was the first piece of a long series of work, visual and investigative, on Juan Valdez. I began to explore different ways to approach, appropriate and critique this character that I could use in later pieces.

Bill Wants resulted from a serendipitous purchase of a figurine from a curios shop in Bogotá with a passing similarity to Monica Lewinsky, and the testimony of then President Bill Clinton that attempted to slice the verb "to be" in ways accessible to latinos, but not to speakers of English. I shot the figurine, with a surveillance camera that was hooked straight into my hard drive, as a series of still frames. These were reassembled in an exploratory fashion. With relatively high quality still frames I could reassemble them in several different ways

I had a dream . . . chronicles a dream that recurred three times in one night. When it happened the third time, I got out of bed and wrote it down and tucked it away. For close to two years the note was in a sketchbook. After completing the other three videos, I rediscovered the note and decided to make a piece with it. I borrowed a toy helicopter from my older son, and shot it with the same surveillance camera, this time as moving images, again, directly to a hard drive. The helicopter set-up was more demanding than the figurine, and so I asked Elaine Bay to help me by spinning the rotor on my mark. Recording straight to a hard drive with improvised equipment was not straightforward. This piece was actually conceived of as a triptych. It was assembled into a single composition for convenience of dissemination. I timed and composited the three loops into one piece in Adobe After Effects. This one didn't want to be 30 seconds long.

These four works were created without forethought as to their interrelationship. They seemed to me to be meditations on the nature of the Blessings of Liberty. There were some other pieces that didn't make the cut, left for another time, to be reused or remixed.

commemorating Ezekiel Hernandez
Shortly after I finished the Blessings of Liberty, I began to think about Speedy Gonzales. I created some verbal sketches for a piece on the theme of Speedy as a percept of cultural identity, and began to research Speedy's history. Steinbeck has been a huge influence on the Warner Brother's artists. As was Diego Rivera's interpretation of Mexicanidad. These thoughts were on my mind when Ezekiel Hernandez was shot.

I dug up a videotape of Speedy Gonzalez cartoons, which wasn't easy, Warner Bros. was feeling self-conscious and politically correct. They had expunged the character from the cartoon network. It took some time to find just the right moment to clip for this ironic tribute.

Latin American humor in general, and Mexican humor specifically tends to be black and ironic.

deconstructing and reconstructing heroes
After working with Speedy Gonzalez, I returned my attention to Juan Valdez. I began to approach Juan Valdez from the logical conclusion pointed to by the advertising, that of a super-human, preternatural being that made the quality of Colombian coffee possible. I began to reason that a being of that strength should be called upon to behave in the way that other super-heroic beings have. I began to envision talismans, incantations, mythological narratives and fetish objects that may conjure or invoke him into action. These will take on the form appropriate for our times, that is to say action figures, thirty-second commercial spots, trading cards, and videogames.

continuum of collaborative models
Middle Ages model of apprenticeship, for example “studio of Raffaelo Sanzio”.

Design studio practice of employees with “work for hire” contracts. These stipulate that the employee-creator surrenders all intellectual property rights to the work.

Contemporary fine arts practice of the “post-studio artist”. In this model the artist works in conversation with fabricators who remain anonymous while the artist, Jeff Koonz would be a notorious example, signs the work.

The science laboratory model where the principal investigator is given top billing and who – in some cases – doles out credit parsimoniously to her lab assistants.

The heroic artist who works alone, in relative isolation.

The need to build community, infrastructures and networks among the under-represented and underserved.

The open-source model of software development.

The SWEAT collaboration that I have built is in dialogue with this continuum. Open Source has not been thought to be advantageous for videogame development. Socially conscious content has been thought to be outside the scope of videogame developers due to market pressures. The complexity of videogame development has been claimed to preclude the effectiveness of a solo or small group effort.

Parsing the roles of the first collaboration
I would prefer to keep the integrity of our collective identity, there being strength in numbers and security in anonymity, but it is appropriate to give credit where it is due.

I created the collaborative. I proposed its working method. My collaborators bought into the method. The whole collaborative would have been a non-starter if my graduate students had chosen not to participate. They decided that my offer was interesting. I proposed to teach them the rudiments of programming – of interactive multi-media, which was a hot topic then – in the context of a critical videogame, which was off the radar of everyone. I showed them my sketches. They were willing to participate under the terms I outlined, labor in exchange for part ownership and exeriential learning. The exact proportion of ownership was never specified, but collective and individual credit would always be given.

We (Miguel Angel Tarango, Marco Antonio Ortega, Francisco Ortega-Grimaldo, Ryan Molloy, Tomás Marquez-Carmona, Carmen Escobar, and myself) decided to test our ability to work together with a short, intense project. I proposed that we respond to a competitive call from the New Venue for “The Aggressively Boring Film Festival”, that brought together an intersection of interesting technological constraints with the opportunity to explore the short form that I had been working on with the Blessings of Liberty suite. We all agreed that a loop made up of several vignettes on the theme of aggravation would be our subject. We all commenced an open brainstorming process where each collaborator offered and story-boarded a vignette. I was the only one who had gone through the entire process and so I took on the role of director. Francisco handled special effects and props. Miguel had experience shooting, and so he handled cinematography. Ryan took on lighting duties. Tomás animated the fake “loading” segments. Marco was the handy-man during the shoot, which took place in my home. Carmen had family commitments that kept her away from the shoot, but her contributions to the narrative were important. I told everyone what to do, with a gentle handle on the steering wheel. I convened them for a marathon editing session again at my house. We converged with lap-top and desktop machines and set up an ad-hoc post production facility in my studio. I guided the editing process with the idea that the loop should not have an appreciable symmetry, and that its rhythm should be syncopated so that the looping would be less obvious. Miguel, Marco, and Ryan did the actual “cutting”. We all responded to and critiqued the successive versions. I set up and tweaked the compression settings until the image quality to file size ratio was acceptable and then uploaded it and called it a wrap.

I did a quick assessment of the group dynamic. It was judged to be successful by all of the participants, and they were all willing to proceed with a bigger, more complex project. I proposed Crosser, which I had already story-boarded, and for which I had already designed the lead character.

The first game
I proposed that we use an unknown – to them – software tool. They countered by proposing we use Flash™, a tool that was gaining currency at that time. I didn't believe that Flash was the right tool for the job, but I let the collaborators try to persuade me to their line of thinking. I asked them to show me evidence that Flash could perform certain mission-critical tasks, like collision detection. When they (principally Ryan and Miguel) investigated the capabilities of the tool they confirmed that it could not perform (at that time) the tasks we needed. I then showed them how we could achieve the tasks with the tool I proposed, Cocoa™.

The choice of the tool was to be part of the critique. Cocoa had been abandoned by Apple, it was a cast-off. The collaborators weren't firmly convinced of this argument at first. It was later that they understood how the choice reinforced the social commentary. We were living in place that received the cast-offs of the first world, where slum buildings were made from discarded packing material, where making do with refuse had been refined from necessity to an aesthetic.

This moment was a test of the collaborative. My partners needed to see from me an openness to their influence and sense that it was genuine. I had to show that I was interested in working with designers with strong voices, potential leaders in their own right. I also had to demonstrate the kind of leadership that identifies talented collaborators and then lets those collaborators actively contribute. This is a challenge for a control freak like me.

Maybe we can use a metaphor of improvisational jazz. I am the front man, the most senior player, and I call the tune. The particular tune I called for the first game, “riffs on the theme of Frogger™” gave us a known and knowable framework, a standard composition on which to hang our variations.

I drew the first character, chose the perspective from which we would compose the layout, chose the size of characters, and selected the color palette. Ryan Molloy, Tomás Marquez-Carmona, and Francisco Ortega-Grimaldo interpreted these overlapping frameworks to create the other characters.

Simultaneous to the development of the visual assets, two other collaborators were taught the basics of programming in Cocoa and were challenged to reinterpret the gameplay of Frogger. I had already checked out the viability of the tool in other, experimental projects. Miguel Tarango and Marco Ortega were left to derive the specific articulation of programming logic for our game.

Once completed each of the collaborators was given a copy of the work and the right of dissemination. As it turns out, I have been the principal disseminator of the work, with the collaborators satisfied to allow their initial intellectual capital investments to accrue in value.

Parsing the Roles of the Second Game
The second game, La Migra, was an entirely solo effort. I give credit to Francisco Ortega-Grimaldo, Ryan Molloy, and Tomás Marquez-Carmona for the characters they designed for original use in Crosser. I adapted these for re-use in La Migra, adding nine drawings to the Carlos Moreno character, tweaking the shadows and details on the SUV, and flipping and expanding the background artwork. The changes described can be legitimately called a re-drawing, but since the idea was to express the source material I felt it only proper to give credit. I drew the remaining seven characters and five objects. Each character is composed of seventeen drawings, the counter objects have ten drawings each, and the gate objects have two drawings each. I am also responsible for drawing the splash screen, the victory screen and the defeat screen. There are something like 170 drawings in all.

I programmed all of the game, all of the interactions between the player and the characters, and between all of the characters and the various objects. I decided what the game would “feel” like.

The drawing and the programming proceeded in tandem, intermittently over the course of a year. After La Migra was completed, Apple computers announced a change to its operating system that would eventually make it impossible to play the games on newer systems. Though I had used abandoned software, Cocoa, to create the games, they were playable on both legacy systems and contemporary ones. Apple's decision would limit the potential for dissemination of the work. If I didn't act, then it would be as if the games had never been created. I chose to recode the games, from the ground up, by myself, in a commercially available development environment that had been created by the creators of Cocoa. This would ensure that the games were not only playable on new Apple systems, but also on Windows and Unix systems as well. This effort took another six to nine months of solo work.

In the domain of software product development, this dynamic situation is not uncommon. The need to maintain the viability of a product across time and across platforms and their attendant changes is part of the cost of doing business.

Socially conscious video games
There is a growing formalization to the study of how to make videogames in response to the realization that the revenues generated by the game industry surpassed those of the movie industry each year for the past three years. There is a simultaneous increase in the study of videogames as a phenomenon – game studies – that attempts to bring to bear scholarly critical vocabularies, as well as to develop a critical vocabulary specific to videogames. There are fewer – but still growing in number – practitioners, investigators, who are exploring the expressive potential of the videogame to bear critical content. I am among this last group. I am using the videogame as an investigative and critical methodology. I am experimenting with “videogame as medium,” experimenting with the ludic and narrative qualities of games; and, critiquing the notion that games are frivolous.

My first game, Crosser, is set on the US-Mexico border at a specific point between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. The player is placed in the shoes of a person attempting to cross into the US (il)legally. In a deconstructivist gesture, I (re)used the gameplay of a “canonical” videogame, Frogger, replacing the original iconography of a cute frog, attempting to cross a river and a highway, with a cute brown-skinned cartoon character, also trying to cross a river and a highway. With the completion of this game I showed that it is possible to simultaneously critique the medium of the video game (reflexively) and something else – in this case a cultural dynamic of the border region – by using the medium itself as a vehicle for this critique.

My second game, La Migra, expands both the cultural commentary and the videogame critique of the first. This game is set in the same location as the first, but the point of view is switched 180, and the player is now placed in the shoes of an Immigration & Naturalization Services agent (now the agency has a different title under the office of Homeland Security). The faceless agent, cozily ensconced in an SUV is charged with stopping a host of (il)legal aliens from crossing the border. The gameplay is based on another “canonical” videogame, Space Invaders, with the signifiers again switched from abstract extraterrestrials to culturally and geographically specific cartoon characters.

Crosser and La Migra create a kind of dialogue. The two games are in conversation with each other. Each is an autonomous and complete work. Together, they form a more complete picture than they could alone. For this reason I have chosen to exhibit them as a pair. I have written a contextualizing essay, Pixels Politics & Play, to accompany these two works which I presented at the Pop Culture Association national conference, and subsequently published in the online journal Intelligent Agent.

Third Game, Second Collaborative
My third game, Juan & the Beanstalk, is a more ambitious and complex undertaking. It is set in Colombia and attempts to treat cultural and economic realities on the ground there that have arisen from the drug trade, and the ongoing civil war. This work has been in progress for several years, and so I have taken to publishing playable fragments. Two fragments, Seeds of Solitude and FiFa Fo Fum, were exhibited in an invited group show at Denver’s Museo de las Americas called Planet Colombia which ran from October 2005 to January 2006. A short photo-essay about the extant fragments has been published in the journal Works & Days, with a collection of other texts by Chris Crawford – a well known figure in the field of videogame design.

There are multiple levels of design activity inherent in the process of creating games. We deploy visual, rhetorical, experiential and technical expertise in a considered manner. We make use of hardware and software tools, pen and paper; and, personal and electronic networks to make these games. We experiment in order to generate the games. We try to figure out what a game should look like, what kind universe our player will traverse, what it will feel like to traverse that universe, and what kinds of hardware and software tools we have or will need in order to actualize our vision. We follow large and small hypothesis to see where they lead. Often enough, they lead to blind alleys; at other times, they lead to alternative paths we had not foreseen.

Digital video games are large undertakings to produce, and when done correctly, all of the technological and human resources expended in their creation dissolve into a background. Typically they are undertaken by teams of people with highly specialized roles.

To animate each character requires many drawings, and we never get it right the first time, so we iterate. The idea of creating a thousand drawings is not out of the question. The coding of the interactions between the characters is similarly non-trivial. Each character will have a relationship with the other characters that has to be defined through the code. The complexity of the enterprise can be measured exponentially, the number of characters raised to the power of the number of characters minus one. This before we take into account any narrative elements of gameplay.

I have assembled collaborative groups under the identity of SWEAT with the purpose of actualizing my experiments. The “we” in the paragraphs above refer to the our collaboration. My tactics for collaboration cause an overlap in my teaching and my creative activity. I have recruited collaborators from among my students. There have, so far, been two generations of SWEAT, each managing to “ship” product. “Shipping” in game industry parlance is publishing, imbued with deep talismanic mojo due to the difficulty of completing even well-funded commercial projects.

The organization of SWEAT is itself a project. There are no “employees” in the traditional sense. The participants receive an ownership stake in what we create, they receive SWEAT equity. We leverage the collaboration to enable us to make work that is more ambitious in scale than we could produce individually. There is an open exchange of knowledge and expertise, with collaborators challenged to push beyond their zones of comfort. This is an innovation in how to organize a game project. Game development typically follows a dictatorial model of production. With SWEAT, we are exploring the viability of open-source collaborative development for videogames. We have begun to explore the creation of software technologies that promise to further democratize the process of videogame development.

These kinds of idealistic gatherings can implode under their own weight. I have managed to create a careful balance with SWEAT such that it has been, and can continue to be, productive.

The collaborative nature of our process has caught the attention of several important people in the design community because of its productivity and accomplishments. I began sharing the games when I spoke at the Environs 002 conference in Vancouver, in 2002. That engagement resulted in invitations to speak in Seattle and Denver to regional memberships of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). These gigs brought my work to the attention of Katherine McCoy, who has begun to write about my teaching and my creative work. Ms McCoy is a world renowned design thinker who was the co-director of the design program at Cranbrook for over twenty years.

(in)Action
(in)Action Figure grew out of an obsession, not only with Juan Valdez, but with the idea that he had to have an action figure, some tangible presence that could act as a talisman so that I could tell hero tales to my sons. I was deeply influenced by the work of J.S.G. Boggs, whose radical art manages to make the Treasury Department uncomfortable. I had already seen documentation taken as an are form/medium, but Boggs did things with it that were quite poetic. I decided that not only would I make the action figure, I would document the process, and make another piece (or set of pieces) with the documentary bits. For this project I would need an accomplice, and not necessarily an entire infrastructure like I had created with SWEAT. I called on Elaine Bay to help me once again. She had proven to have a great cinematographic eye, and she was absolutely fearless. I enlisted her to be the cinematographer in a guerilla art action at the Toys R Us. We went shopping. She shot over three hours of footage while I selected a doll, looked at clothes and at accessories. I shot six more myself with the camera on a tripod while I sewed Juan's clothes from whole cloth, made his sandals from string, and cut his machete from an eraser shield I had in my designer's toolkit. I completed the doll after about a year of intermittent work. The videotaped documentary is far from complete. Again in the mode of tactical media, I have made use of bits that I have digitized and cut from the documentary for a multi-media performance narrative. Completion of the video documentary is on the back-burner until I finish Juan & the Beanstalk.

Dry
Dry is a project I began that I could work on slowly, during the teaching times, that would keep me in touch with my graphic design training, and which would allow me to synthesize my digital expression. I created a challenge for myself to create a typeface from 7 pixel x 7 pixel em-square (the typographic equivalent of a bounding box or an envelope). I have made bits and pieces of typefaces for personal use before, but this was to be a concerted effort to make a complete typeface that could be used across a broad spectrum of applications. I became ambitious as I completed 72 drawings needed for a bare-bones typeface. I began to add diacritical marks that would allow the typeface to be polyglot. This decision has pushed the count of drawings into the hundreds. There are still some technical glitches, but the beta version has been stable enough to use in other projects by SWEAT. I plan to make use of it in the Juan & the Beanstalk trading cards that are on the back burner.

Dissemination of the work
Dissemination of the work is a further ongoing experiment. The notion that a videogame can be an artwork is still very new. Venues to show the work are still emergent and not fully formed. There are several international conferences yearly which have exhibition components attached. There is a growing field of ludology with investigators in Denmark and New York, and it is already experiencing its first academic argument between the ludologists and the narratologists. The field of game criticism is simultaneously attempting to grow beyond the celebratory journalism of marketing driven industry magazines. Serious titles are beginning to arrive, with academic presses realizing a new audience. Study centers have sprouted in California and Arizona as well as abroad. And blogs are now points of dissemination, and, in a few special cases, are also curated venues. This is all a ferment.

“For evaluation purposes, various forms of dissemination beyond galleries and museums should be considered appropriate. These include exhibitions, viewings, and installations at conferences, festivals, and other non-traditional exhibition opportunities, and the publication of work in both traditional and electronic form. Furthermore, other contributions to the development of the field, such as work with software and hardware developers, or publications on the emerging aesthetics of computer-based media, should be given consideration.”

College Art Association Guidelines
for Faculty Teaching in Computer-Based Media
in Fine Art and Design

“. . . many design faculty have entered theoretical and polemic discourse that has its roots in disciplines outside design and the fine arts. . . . Many efforts are self-published or confined to a small but growing number of publications devoted to such interests. Because the individuals engaged in this research are few and represent a new model for design faculty, internal and external reviewers may have limited experience evaluating the content and quality of their scholarship. The hybrid nature of their work (often a combination of academic scholarship, criticism, and making) falls outside the more well-defined research models of art historian or studio artist. The number of national and international opportunities for peer review are few.”

AIGA and NASAD briefing paper
Selecting and Supporting Faculty in Graphic Design

Accomplishments
Some amazing things are beginning to happen. My games are being included in Game Studies curricula at the undergraduate and graduate levels at the University of Arizona, and at the University of Southern California. Julian Bleecker, Annenberg Fellow, has written Crosser and La Migra into the introduction of a chapter he has written on SimCity 2000 (one of the most successful pc games in history) which has just been published in Italy. Notable people are advocating for my work. Christiane Paul, curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and publisher of Intelligent Agent, included the games in an essay about artistic responses to the city, and recommended me for inclusion in the International Film Festival of Rotterdam. Katherine McCoy has written about my teaching and my work in Emigre magazine, a highly influential international design journal, and recommended it to others. As a result of her recommendation, the editors of I.D. magazine have selected me for the I.D. Fifty. Professionally, this is a once in a career honor. The magazine has named an annual list for just over a decade, and has yet to repeat a member.

Arriving simultaneously to these good fortunes, an appearance on a curated email discussion list – an online salon called Empyre – resulted in an invitation to exhibit in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, in Melbourne during the second quarter of 2005. The exhibit inaugurated ACMI’s space dedicated to the exhibition of videogame works – one of the first such spaces at a major cultural institution worldwide.

All of this exposure results in further coverage, at some crucial tipping point I am no longer able to track where someone first ran across the work. Recently Maria Fernandez, Art Historian at Cornell, and Laura Baigorri, Media Historian at University of Barcelona, have also begun to follow the work. I haven’t been able to trace where either found out about the games, but I am grateful for their interest. Professor Baigorri has listed me among “hacktivists” on her web-based index, Transmisor.