I'm a writer and visual artist in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

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Blog Archives dated June 2011

Halifax Walking Notebook (Part 1)

  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 1
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 1
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 1
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 2
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 2
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 2 and 3
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 3
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4
Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 1

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 1

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 1

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 1

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 1

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 1

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 2

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 2

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 2

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 2

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 2 and 3

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 2 and 3

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 3

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 3

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4

In November 2007, I undertook a series of walks around Halifax, Nova Scotia, as part of my research for my Interchange installation at NSCAD University. Each day for 33 days, I walked around the city and wrote about walking, art, psychogeography, and the pedestrian experience in Halifax. As I worked, I began to think of the writing and walking as not just an artifact of the project, but an artwork in itself. I’ll post a few excerpts from my notebook here over the summer.

Green Street From Memory

Walking makes me want to write. While living in Halifax last year I walked a lot, often with a camera or a notebook. My favourite coffeeshop in Halifax is Paper Chase on Blowers, with its large tables and windows overlooking Argyle, but on days when I really wanted to focus I would often walk a little further to Coburg Coffee, where I was less likely to run into anyone I knew. I was trying to find time to work on various projects: poems, notebooks, sometimes code. I was trying to put a dent in a stack of books as well, in particular a couple of collections of Don McKay and John Steffler. I resolved to read Lisa Robertson’s Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture only while outdoors, pausing with it in the Public Gardens on my walk home. A little of this aimlessness found its way into my work, always starting sketchbooks and journals that didn’t stick. This drawing is from one of those.

(Iguana sighting)

Make No Wonder and Random Islands

  • Random polygon islands 1
  • Random polygon islands 2
  • Random polygon islands 3... one big one.
  • Random polygon islands 4
Random polygon islands 1

Random polygon islands 1

Random polygon islands 2

Random polygon islands 2

Random polygon islands 3... one big one.

Random polygon islands 3... one big one.

Random polygon islands 4

Random polygon islands 4

I found out recently that I have been awarded a Professional Project Grant from the Newfoundland & Labrador Arts Council to work on an interactive digital art project. My proposed project is to create an ecology-themed game artwork, tentatively titled Make No Wonder. I’ve posted a little about it on my Projects page.

This project is a progression from a couple of previous art-game projects, Probable System and Favimon. Probable System is an exploration game that takes place in a typographical world inspired by Canadian experimental poet bpNichol (it can be played online at probable.ca). Favimon lets you collect and battle your websites based on their favicons in a never-ending quest to capture every website, and can be found at favimon.com. In February 2011, Favimon won the Most Original award in the Mozilla Labs Game On 2010 open web gaming contest. I wrote a long blog post about developing Favimon for the Mozilla Labs blog.

Make No Wonder will take place in a virtual archipelago, allowing the player to explore the environment, gather resources, and gradually build bridges, rafts, and other forms of technology. As players explore, their actions and traces permanently affect the ecosystems of the islands, encouraging them to think critically about their choices. The artwork will investigate ecological concepts such as biodiversity, resource management, and invasive species. The game will be coded in HTML, JavaScript and PHP, and will run in a web browser. I have a ton of ideas for things that I want to work into the game, some more challenging than others. I’ll be writing about the project here as I work on it, including posting some code and links to interactive demos.

The images above are from some early sketches for Make No Wonder; I wrote a little script that generates random polygon-based islands on a square grid. I’ve been experimenting with the Raphaël JavaScript library for this project. It’s a great way of working with SVG (vector graphics) in JavaScript, but it’s been a bit finicky trying to get it to play nicely with jQuery, and it slows down considerably when dealing with hundreds of SVG paths, so I may not end up using it for the final project. Still, it’s been handy for quickly prototyping things. I’ve actually done a lot of work since generating the polygon islands above, and have been experimenting with hex grids instead of square tiles. Hexes can be very unintuitive from a coding perspective, but they allow for a less boxy-looking landscape, and movement across hex tiles feels more natural. It probably also helps that I have been playing a lot of hex-based games such as Settlers of Catan and Slay. One inconvenience about hex maps is that movement in six directions doesn’t map nicely to arrow keys, but I want to work with mouse-based interaction for this project anyway, as it will be easier to translate into a touch interface.

I’m really thrilled and honoured to have received the Arts Council grant. I put a lot of work into my application, but wasn’t sure the committee would go for it; the idea of games as artwork is still something that has not gained wide acceptance. I am incredibly grateful to the NLAC for granting me the opportunity to really focus on this project over the summer, and am looking forward to documenting the project here as I go.

Content ©  2019 Matthew Hollett. RSS