July 20, 2024

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Jen Clay’s “Eyes of the Skin” Opens at Locust Jobs in Miami

5 min read
Jen Clay’s “Eyes of the Skin” Opens at Locust Jobs in Miami
Are video clip video games art? The issue has obsessed the public for yrs, and in 2023, it can be leaning toward “indeed.” Players and designers have repeatedly advocated for interactive media as artistically valid, and modern several years have seen even much more range and expansive ideas within the activity style and design group. Progressive modern games incorporate narrative-driven indie RPGs like Disco Elysium and tragic adventures like The Previous of Us Section 2 a person could say the latter recreation even defeat its Hollywood remake in ambition.

Critic Roger Ebert at the time scorned the variety, declaring, “No online video gamer now living will survive extended plenty of to encounter the medium as an art kind.” But soon after that statement, the Smithsonian held its exhibition “The Artwork of Video Games,” featuring all the things from Room Invaders and Super Mario Bros. to Metallic Equipment Sound and Myst. Significant newspapers employ video recreation critics, these as Gene Park at the Washington Submit.

If Ebert experienced been ready to practical experience the amazing open worlds of Elden Ring or the Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, would he have transformed his tune?

These arguments never appear to be to make a difference to Jen Clay, a South Florida artist using video clip game titles as a medium for her artwork. Her earlier perform was in material, which she used to make sculptures and wearable art. But trying out video game style gave her a new automobile for her ideas.

“I am undoubtedly not a video game participant,” Clay, who grew up in North Carolina and attained an MFA from the University of Florida, suggests. “[But] I want that personal expertise, the place it truly is practically like in The NeverEnding Story where the reserve starts off to discuss to Sebastian. It is form of spooky. When I was little, I was like, ‘Whoa!’ But that is what I want, where by it feels like it is really chatting directly to you. I appreciate that, and a movie game can do that.”

Clay resolved a recreation would be a great way to take a look at mental ailment, using the interactive medium to permit neurotypical persons experience what it feels like to offer with depression. The ensuing work, on view at Locust Projects by November 4, is introspective and darkish.

simply click to enlarge

Jen Clay’s set up at Locust Tasks attributes the first video recreation built solely of animated quilts.

Picture by Zachary Balber

In Eyes of the Skin, players are placed in a deep, gloomy forest produced up of Clay’s tender sculptures, encountering monstrous people along the path. Textual content-based prompts give them a sequence of decisions as they navigate the forest. Depending on their decision, they could escape the forest or continue to be in it. Some endings even have the player turn into a person of the monsters. The textual content messages are thorough to keep away from shaming the player — rather of “activity over,” players trapped in the forest are advised it is all right and to check out all over again.

The virtual monsters and settings, produced from scrap cloth sourced from donations and thrift outlets, amid other sources, and digitally scanned into the activity, attract inspiration from “creature” videos these types of as Sweetheart, The Blob, and Invasion of the Human body Snatchers. Clay finds supernatural or cosmic horror films the place individuals are confronted with confronting or switching into an alien form of everyday living to be a potent metaphor for the depersonalization seasoned by the mentally unwell.

“I want it to be the nicest reprieve for men and women that experience it, you know? And it is really practically like job-actively playing to be like, ‘Oh, that is just a thought,’ like when you have even suicidal views, a therapist could notify you, ‘Oh, it’s just a believed,’ and it will take away that shame of it. But I also want to make a thing inviting nonetheless disorienting for persons who haven’t professional it so they can experience that ambiguity. Like, how do I present that estrangement from yourself when you have mental well being troubles, in which you are also an alien?”

In conditions of genre, Eyes of the Skin could be regarded a visual novel (VN), which originated in Japan and favors narrative and player choices around motion and details techniques. Investigative VNs like the Ace Legal professional series and horror stories like Doki Doki Literature Club populate the genre, but it truly is most effective regarded for dating sims, some quirkier than others. Clay cites just one in unique: Hatoful Boyfriend, an absurdist choose on the genre in which possible passionate suitors are all pigeons.

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Jen Clay’s Eyes of the Skin is an set up and video clip recreation in which viewers navigate a forest.

Picture by Zachary Balber

Clay, who experienced no former encounter developing online video video games, suggests her partner, New Environment University of the Arts professor of digital art Samuel Lopez de Victoria, was specifically encouraging in acquiring her to try generating a game. “He’s obsessed with video clip games. He truly wants absolutely everyone to make a video clip recreation.”

She applied digital resources these kinds of as TyranoBuilder, a recreation improvement motor exclusively created for visual novels, and animation application like Final Slash to create the game, finding out how to use them with YouTube tutorials. As portion of the programming close to Eyes of the Pores and skin, Locust Projects will host a game improvement workshop on Tuesday, October 24, from 7 to 10 p.m., in Locust Project’s Electronic Innovation Lounge, where Lopez de Victoria will train participants how to make their very own online games with TyranoBuilder. She’s hoping her husband’s workshop will assistance to demystify the medium as a creative resource for other folks in the exact way it did for her.

“I see it now that everyone can make a video clip match [it] can develop a more curated narrative for the players.”

– Douglas Markowitz, ArtburstMiami.com

“Jen Clay: Eyes of the Pores and skin.” On check out through Saturday, November 4, at Locust Jobs, 297 NE 67th St., Miami 305-576-8570 locustprojects.org. Admission is no cost. Wednesday by Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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