Drifting with winds – a gendered love story
The game lets recipients fly a digital kite. The project is both a computer game and a digital installation. It explores the border between real-, virtual- and digital reality and the influence on self-perception. Creating a computer game that in itself and in its medium appears to be problematic to define. That struck me as a thrilling yet eerie metaphor for an artwork with gender relevance. It is a fully functioning, self-contained, digital system with randomized physics such as wind, light, and gravity.
The computer game world is procedurally generated and the installation or rather the machine takes a life on its own until an outside input occurs. Once a player takes action zhe will play as the avatar flying a kite whose actions are firmly influenced by virtual physics. The avatar works with a motion capture of myself, doing what I’d like to call alien drag. It’s a continuance of my former artistic work as a performer. At this point, zhe is tasked with exploring the world of the computer game and its particular rules in order to win the game by “breaking” it.
Gender and Game Design
One such winning scenario is destroying the tether between the penis shaped kite and the avatar. This will result in descending into a bottomless pit of sexless gender-transcendency. However, there are many hidden functionalities that render the computer game world, this digital reality, distinctly and visibly different from our personal reality. It is a shift, really, that undercuts the notion of an identity that is necessarily insolubly intertwined with its respective sex.
Said shift is heightened by the user interface. The game can be solely played with something that looks remarkably like a computer mouse. Any player is tasked with using their own bodies as a mouse pad for them to decry either their surroundings or their distinctive corporeal state as an input. Their imagination and the experience of their materialized, bodily identity becomes reality. Albeit virtually a digital one. Their characteristic performativity becomes an instance of both exploration and self-directed applicability.
Making and UX/UI
In later builds of the computer game, I exchanged the mouse interface with a relay of sensors that would intensify the experience of the user’s body. I took the shell of an optical mouse and attached an Arduino Nano to it. Then I’d add sensors that would give me information on the body temperature, the pulse, whether the user wore clothes at the scanned location and what their volume was. The different inputs would then have different effects on the avatar. By placing the game in a fluffy, protected tube of fabrics, users felt further encouraged to explore their bodies.
Drifting with winds – a gendered love story has been part of several exhibitions.