Nakon Maxa Ernsta mnogi su se zanijeli pravljenjem kolaža od izrezanih dijelova starih enciklpedija, atlasa, priručnika, knjiga... Clowder je jedan od boljih takvih retro-nadrealista. No nedavno je objavio i otkačenu, nadrealnu - i besplatnu!! - videoigru Middens.
Interview with John Clowder
Q1: Let’s start with the common question, if you can kindly introduce yourself.
I signature my name as John Clowder, although I feel it is a better thing that a viewer perceives a work unattached to the human baggage who created it (A.K.A artists).
Q2: How did you get into the field of your work?
Per accident, as I followed my curiosity rather than my mind the larger part of the way. In my teens I had the serendipity to uncover Max Ernst’s ‘A Week of Kindness’ collage novel, and that catalyzed my routines from drawing to cutting paper. Collage is unique among other visual mediums, as the mechanics of its conception are derived from a pre-existing dictionary of symbols. In that manner it is more akin to writing than other imagistic arts.
Q3: Do you have any current favourite artists, comic artists, photographers who may have influenced you to become the artist that you are?
Artists would be over emphasized in my creative lineage because childhood is the main progenitor of my obsessions. Paleontology, hidden sanctuaries, neighboring forests and 80s picture books in specialty. Dali will be around as long as the world holds, and his and others art belong to all future generations, but the relics and experiences an artist’s childhood are theirs alone.
Q4: What are the main tools of your trade?
Candidly; scissors, hands and deceased horse though my work is only possible through the substantial contribution of the creative commons.
Q5: How was it for you to learn the process of that? Did you teach yourself, take classes or learn from other existing artist’s tutorial?
The anathema of poetry is professional advice, and I have eluded the tutelage of art academics. Free play and experiment parented my process.
Q6: Do you think its possible for you to describe the process of your art style, what are the dos and don’ts, the important aspects you set yourself to achieve your style of design?
Ideas must be broken and folded to fit into the limitations of what physical reality can convey. Most appear sturdy in the mind’s eye but dissolve when they hit the air. Allowing for an idea to adapt when it fails may aid you a beautiful mutation. The material outcomes of most of my ideas are leagues distant from their seminal carnations, and my process is one of trial and error plus revision.
Q7: What are the biggest struggles you encounter as an artist?
Publicizing. The general outlets for art have convened with social networking and created a unique opportunity, and marketing chore. Like any musician separated from a label, an artist without endorsement is left to propagandizing on their own behalf. Art and advertising have become largely codependent, and I worry the reverberations of this affiance will threaten genuine sentiment in modern artists.
Q8: Do you have any other future plans that don’t involve creative art?
I have been developing an interactive game collaborated on by various artists for two years. The premise utilizes collage as its central aesthetic. The expected release will be 2012.
Q9: Do you have any personal mottos, quotes or existing quotes that motivates you to do what you love doing? Can you share it with us or provide words of wisdom from your experiences for those who look up to you?
Contrivance is the enemy of authentic expression. Work with impulse and conscious thought with equal flirtation.
Q10: What do you think the future will hold for all artists from all backgrounds from now?
With the proliferation of the internet visual language, with its power to unify linguistically divided channels, will exceed the word in communicative application. Culture Armageddonists bewail that peoples’ vocabularies are shrinking, but children now have the most expansive visual lexicon that has ever existed. Imagery rather than words will be the revolutionary parlance of future communities, and the artists’ brush (or wacom tablet) will prove mightier than both the sword and the pen.
Q11: To round off the last question, where can your fans and new fans find updated news and progress from you, – Where can we find you?
For updates on my latest projects subscribe to my blog: http://revolverwinds.blogspot.com/
I can also be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Clowder/250588701639107
Q12: Ok this question is optional for you, you and I know that art theft is so common now in the internet world, so there any words you want to share or shout at to those who steal people arts?
If we are discussing art theft in the sense of wrongly taking ownership of another artists’ verbatim image, I don’t find it a threat. No plagiarist can work on commission or fill a gallery, and so they are by default inert, precluded from prospering from their thievery.
However, art theft and shared ideas are often conflated. Despite the avarice of corporate law no one owns an idea – if you can understand an idea then it belongs to you. Ideas have no actual substance except in the nouns they carry – the specific images they provide in return for attention.
Middens is now available for download via its RMN page: http://rpgmaker.net/games/3843/
Middens is now available for download via Gamejolt”
Using collage and pixel art in tandem as its center aesthetic Middens takes the perspective of an ambiguous drifter traversing a veritable x-zone. Roving its interminable wastes the nomad chances upon a sentient revolver beside an ominous pile of remains. The pistol offers its exploit in exchange for a pledge of inextricable companionship. Espousing to be the player’s conscience the dubious weapon directs the drifter to a nearby outpost wherein the story further unfolds.
Despite its appearance as a wasteland the rift is home to many strange denizens—-some dangerous and others harmless. Whatever their disposition the pistol represents the choice to engage them or to spare them. Offense and passivity both have their appropriate times with rewards and consequences being granted to both paths respectively.
I would suggest watching the video first to see if this is one's cup of tea. I suggested this site a few days ago and a lot of the reviews would make Good Games to Grab as WR suggested, Middens is the latest review:
One of the most strange, surreal, and just generally “out there” games I’ve covered on the show – Middens, by “myformerselves” will definitely catch you off guard. It’s an exploration heavy RPG with a semi-open world and tons of wild sights to see. You’ll enjoy interacting with some verbose and eclectic NPCs, including a revolver with lips and eyes that acts as your character’s ID. I truly apologize for the terrible sound quality in this episode, I had tested and thought it was fixed, and then the issue came back. I’ve completely fixed it since this recording however. Middens comes highly recommended. - Giveawayoftheday
“A surreal atmospheric RPG game following in the veins of Yume Nikki and Space Funeral. This game certainly fills the boots of these predecessors, and is in itself a unique experience completely on its own. ”
“It’s like Harlan Ellison driving a Yellow Submarine into a dying sun.” - Rock, Paper, Shotgun
What In The Midden? An Interview With John Clowder – Part 1: Expressing A StoryFascination for the wild and rarely seen imaginations of artists is what initially drew me in to playing indie games. Individuals making elaborate interactive pieces that incorporated so many ideas that you would never find in the products of more corporate efforts from huge ensembles of developers working together in the computer games industry. That vibrant niche filled with singular minds has faded a little as even indie games have become more commercial and have therefore had to become more familiar to larger player bases if they were to earn any money at all. There are still plenty of active developers working productively to bring us a taste of something completely different, though, and one of them is John Clowder.
John released Middens last year – his first foray into game development – and it remains one of the most interesting and odd works of the year. One person programmed, composed the music and drew all of the artwork for Middens, and that fact just enthrals me. Upon playing the game and further delving into the mind behind it, I concluded that I just had to speak to the developer, especially as he was working on another title called Moments of Silence. Tracking John down wasn’t easy, particularly as he prefers for his work to exist without his trace, and as such,
he has adopted the moniker “RevolverWinds” online. But eventually I got through to him and he agreed to talk to me.
What really stuck out while I was tracking him down and exploring the rest of his work was that John isn’t primarily a game developer – he’s mostly known for his fine art and collage work, all of which translates into his games. From talking back to his fans, it was obvious there were more talents hidden away too, and clearly a brilliant mind which I was keen to get to know and find out what force was driving him. In this first part of my interview with John, we speak about his upbringing, his many different skills, his relationship with art and how his multifaceted portfolio is his attempt at finding a medium with which to tell his stories, with games being his latest.
Statik: So I wanted to have a discussion with you because I find myself absolutely absorbed in a lot of your work. And really it takes me back to my youth, when I would let my imagination leak into the many CD or VHS cover arts around me. It’s this quite bizarre way of looking at the world that fascinates me. Quite often twisted, melancholy, and a lot of it non-traditional fantasy. So, where did your artistic vision first come about?
JC: Well, I grew up under very liberal parenting and I had the opportunity to be one of those kids who was exposed to a lot of culture. So my parents didn’t take time to censor what I viewed. I ended up absorbing an enormous amount of influences. Kind of like what you had stated about your own life, where you could place your imagination in what you were seeing. I used to be taken to these record stores and I remember just browsing as a seven year old with my father, who was a record collector, and I would just spend hours dallying in the aisles and looking at the covers. I was just kind of blown over by the amount of variety of styles and the imagination present. So I saw a lot of these artistic box arts for records and CDs.
“What I do overall with my drawing and art, there is a kind of stream of consciousness in the sense that I don’t have any particular fidelity to an idea that doesn’t work.”
I’ve always been interested in drawing, and really I’ve been obsessed with art for as long as I can remember. There really wasn’t a time when I wasn’t active in it. It almost grew out of a kind of jealousy. I remember watching shows and watching movies or seeing a piece of art and feeling possessive of it. I wish I had contributed to it, or wish I had founded that idea. I think that I started drawing to put a spin on the ideas that I loved so much. So I’d see a creature that I really adored or a piece of fantasy, and then I would try to stylize it so that I could claim some kind of ownership over it. So when I was younger it was kind of a selfish desire to start off with. Statik: When I was young, I used to draw lots of monsters, but it was never intentional. I would just let the pen move on the page so a shape would emerge, and from there I’d see something and start drawing it. I guess it’s kind of unconventional and really describes how I kind of go with the flow, rather than meticulously planning everything in my life. Do you ever have that? Where you don’t really follow established practices or methods and do things the way that feels right, particularly when you’re drawing?
JC: When I’m drawing, I guess I have somewhat of a mental concept of what I’m doing to start. Except that there’s this great separation between what you visualize and what you can materialize with a pen. And so I could picture, mentally, these characters, but when it comes to drawing them you’d realize that you didn’t really have them depicted vividly. They’re kind of like a dream where they seem very vivid in your head, but then you realize that you haven’t really conceived of their physical bodies or their attire, or really their anatomy and stature. The idea of them is nebulous, even if it feels very distinct to you.
Like, you can visualize what you expect a utopian society to be, right? But when you see your ideas put to action it might be a dystopic, apocalyptic culture (laughs). So there’s this great separation there. I think what you’re referring to is stream of consciousness in drawing – I’m not really doing exactly that. But it is a technique used by early surrealists to try to concentrate and cultivate their unconscious faculties, whereas it hasn’t always been a practice of mine. What I do overall with my drawing and art, there is a kind of stream of consciousness in the sense that I don’t have any particular fidelity to an idea that doesn’t work. If I try to draw something and find it’s not working, I’ll probably dissect it and see if I can turn it into something.
So, say if I was to create a collage, for instance. In the act of creating a collage, I might start off with a visualization – a purpose. But then I find that visually it really doesn’t work, so I’ll take maybe just aspects of it and essentially recycle it. And that comes out the fact that ideas; well, people are very proud of their ideas, but ideas themselves are very expendable. They’re easily had and really you can part with them just as quickly, because there’s no material backing; there’s no investment in them yet.
Statik: Yeah. Now you mentioned surrealism there, and it seems to me that at least your ideas and some of your work fit in with that school of thought. I just wondered how it was that you came across surrealism initially – was it through education, or maybe you learned about it from an earlier age?
JC: I guess I had been exposed to a lot of surrealist work when I was younger. But it didn’t really catch my attention until much later. In fact, a lot of surrealist work, in a sense, doesn’t interest me. And it didn’t really interest me until I was more mature and I could see more of the psychology behind it. When people think of surrealism, I suppose they think of Dali. He’s kind of the mascot for surrealism. Except he’s actually quite contemporary with surrealists who I far prefer, those beyond even Max Ernst and others who have become iconic with that movement. There was a lot of lesser known surrealists who I think are actually a lot more modern in the sense of where we are now.
There was Remedios Varo, who was the mistress of Max Ernst – I guess “mistress” is kind of a chauvinistic term, though (laughs). But she was a surrealist that inspired me because she had dabbled in collage. And I was never very interested in her paintings, which I always found very sparse. They were symbolically isolated – they would take an icon, something that was a provocative image, and they would just isolate it amid a desert – kind of like Dali. Her work always seemed kind of drab to me. And then one day I ended up falling into a few of her collage novels, which really surprised me, because they were able to evoke a really mysterious, enigmatic thought. I guess something that was kind of prior to thought. Just looking at it, you feel this kind of kinetic connection with its illustration – I guess it resonates with something deep in the mind. I was really struck by that, and I started more and more departing into collage work, which was actually found by the Dadaists, who, I guess you would say, were the ancestor movement of the surrealists. The major surrealist who really inspired me a great deal – I would even call them a ‘parent’ to my mental morphology today – is Jan Svankmajer. He’s a Czech surrealist. And I had been exposed to his film, Alice, when I was like five years old or something. I don’t really know what my reaction was back then, but for like two decades I hunted down this film – you know, pre-Internet. Now things are so easy to find, but back then you’d have to go to a video store, and that’s how I finally got my hands on it. His world really fertilized my imagination, and it ended up really encouraging me to read interviews and look up information about the history of surrealism and the psychology behind it, which has definitely influenced how I am today.
Statik: Yeah, for me, Svankmajer came into my life when I was studying Film at university, and he was actually one of my case studies. I became obsessed, so I know exactly where you’re coming from there. Is this where the seed was planted that eventually caused you to start doing animation yourself?
JC: Well, I had always wanted to try animation. In fact, it was one of my early passions. I think when I was younger I just didn’t have the aptitude or the patience for it. I remember when Flash cartoons first became popular over the Internet. Most of them were just parodies of video games – not very artistic or inspired – but there were a few that really stood out. And they did so because they rivalled the quality of works I was seeing being created by huge teams of people for mass consumption. Some of them seemed to even match the work of huge conglomerates, like Disney. I was just really startled that an individual could create something of that scale and have real diction in their artistic vision.
“With drawing and visual mediums you can perceive the value of that person’s work almost immediately. Whereas with writing it takes almost the entire duration of consuming the piece…”
There’s something else also really startling to me about animation. In that every single frame comes from the author’s imagination, and every single asset of that frame. So it’s like you’re seeing this mass confluence of artistic energy manifesting, frame by frame by frame. And this becomes almost overwhelming in certain films. If you think about…well, I can’t even think of any other animated film that rivals it today in this kind of phenomenon of mass detail, where every single aspect is originating in the artist’s mind, is Akira. Right? You see that film, and even today it seems like one of those old epics, like Cleopatra or Ben Hur, that would be impossible to create today because of the way that technology has progressed so that people no longer have the skills of mass teams of people to create these old fashioned epics.
From early on in my life, I was really just obsessed with drawing, but there came a point where I transitioned into collage almost accidentally. In fact, I was just really dabbling in it for a few years, just producing things on-and-off while I continued to draw. But there was a revelation I had where I came to realize that if I continued to pursue drawing then I might never find the means to illustrate the stories that I had in mind, because drawing was too time-consuming. It’s really not an economical art form in a sense. Even if you’re very good at drafting – let’s say, quick sketching – it takes an enormous amount of time to render all of this work. So I took up collage as a way to supplement that, to perhaps increase the efficiency of my work and to increase my output and productivity.
Statik: I notice that you didn’t stop there either – you’ve done drawing, animation and writing as well at various points in your life. Is there a reason why you’ve spread your work across a number of disciplines, rather than just sticking to one? I’d also like to know why you’ve moved away from writing now too, in pursuit of more visual works instead.
JC: I think I’ve mentioned before in the belief of universality of expression. Really, these skills easily transition into each other; in fact, they kind of buttress each other and feed into one another. With writing, well, I had been highly ambitious in writing, I guess, at one point. I had really seen that as the medium where I was going to achieve the narrative that I desired, to share a lot of the stories that I was conceiving of. Except that writing is really a thankless kind of medium, and it’s not simply that it’s not commercial. To become a writer takes years and years because you don’t only have to develop skills, but actually you have to build up the base that has enough faith in your writing that will give it a try, to read past the first few pages, or even first few sentences. There’s this investment that is required with writing.
With drawing and visual mediums you can perceive the value of that person’s work almost immediately. Whereas with writing it takes almost the entire duration of consuming the piece, and by that I mean it requires you to almost complete the book or the full article before you can substantiate a valid opinion. So I really don’t envy writers, especially working today. Writing has always been a rewardless medium in many respects for those who pursue it, and today it’s even more so, perhaps because more people are less literate. We have more literacy in general now in that more people can read, but it’s all kind of baseline where people don’t often read books of a high conceptual nature. I remember visiting Borders before it closed around here – it was a bookshop where you could sample what you were interested in before you bought it – but I remember looking around in the display cases and seeing like derivative teen fiction and celebrity biographies. Things like Twilight and the autobiography of Oprah. Things written by ghost writers that didn’t really have any astute or keen themes, or anything to say about society or the human condition. Basically the literary equivalent of infomercials (laughs).
Statik: That’s exactly what they are, yes. Further covering your impressive range of talents – music! Is that something you picked up before working on games or during?
JC: Actually, that was something that I mainly picked up while working on Middens. Originally there was another composer involved but there was a falling out between us. I knew that I wanted Middens to have an original soundtrack, and I had written lyrics – I was a lyricist for a long time. But I never really had much skill, or what I perceived to be skill, in my musical compositions. I wasn’t really validated in them and hadn’t received any validation from others because they hadn’t really been shared. In this, I applied similar techniques that I really do in my art. So kind of allowing the free flow of thought without trying to proon it consciously. I think I created the soundtrack over about three months, and it became something that was very relaxing, something that I could do outside of the programming or working on the landscapes and sprites.
Statik: This is an educated guess, but I’d imagine that you’re mostly self-taught in all of these skills. Is that right or completely wrong?
JC: No, that is actually completely right. Not self-taught in the sense that I haven’t ever received any instruction or advice. But I am self-taught in the respect that I haven’t ever visited a university or ever really received formal instruction in it. I was fortunate in that my mother was a painter, and from a very young age she sort of instructed and encouraged me in drawing and painting. I’m sure that is something that really isn’t even expendable, and I’m sure that it was a priceless contribution to who I am today, to have that kind of influence at such a formulative age.
Other artists that I’ve reached out to have surprised me by responding back to me. There was one artist who I am particularly indebted to who I reached out to at college. Now, I went to college to pursue communications as I thought art would have been too unreliable, whereas today I think I should have pursued art from the beginning. But during that phase I had written a paper about comics, and I had a belief that comics were an art form of great possibilities. The essay was about whether comics were art or not, basically. And I was really surprised to see that my teacher really didn’t understand what my paper was about (laughs). They couldn’t even conceive what I was speaking about. To me, my ideas seemed very coherent and easily to follow, and relevant also. I guess I was just really lambasted at their ability to not conceive of what I was saying.
“…when I was younger I never really believed in my ability, or even the possibility of creating a game just as one individual. Which is really something that’s only recently become possible, which is something else that really excites me about games.”
So I sent my paper to a comic artist who I respected, Toc Fetch, who was also a fine artist. He does these highly photorealistic pencil drawings with dreamlike and surrealistic undertones. Now, I wouldn’t call Toc Fetch a surrealist. I think what he is is actually probably much more personally rooted even than something more general as surrealism. But I had reached out to him without any hope of him responding back and was pleasantly surprised when he did. And he gave me advice that I would say today was some of the best advice that I have ever received in my life. He was speaking about the craft of writing, and at the time I was in the habit of writing very academically, so I was using a lot of Latin-based languages and archaic descriptors. And he had advised me that really a word wasn’t valuable unless it conveyed an image. When I first received that letter, I didn’t appreciate that advice. I guess I was too arrogant in what I was doing to really believe in the value of that advice. But as I grew older and I was able to contemplate more insight into those words, I was able to really see the truth in them. When he says that a word isn’t really valuable unless it conveys an image, he’s really speaking about how language is an expressive medium, except it’s not always used expressively. Especially in academia, where it becomes a habit to use obscurity purposely – it’s obscurity in the pretension of intelligence. He used the example of a chestnut mare and how when you say “a chestnut mare”, you picture in your mind’s eye the white and brown horse perhaps frolicking in a field or such. But when you say “sacrosanct”, or even a word that I would have used earlier – “phantasmagorical” – one of these words from a dated period that totally lacks pertinence to our habits of speaking today – it doesn’t really convey anything. I mean what you really would see, if anything, is the definition of that word. You may picture the dictionary in your head (laughs).
Statik: Haha! So I guess it’s about time we moved on to how games got involved in your life. I know you said you were interested in pursuing art, but did games play any part in your youth at all?
JC: I was actually really obsessed with games as a kid. There’s pictures of me as a boy with an NES controller in my hands, just completely mesmerized in front of the TV. There’s a game in particular that I was playing – the Adventure Island series. Which today, as you know, is long and buried. But at that point it was really facilitating my imagination. I guess when I was younger I never really believed in my ability, or even the possibility of creating a game just as one individual. Which is really something that’s only recently become possible, which is something else that really excites me about games.
There were other series as well – I guess RPGs, of course, interested me in particular because they combined strong storytelling and visual elements with gameplay. And altogether it seemed like something more timeless than a lot of other games I was playing. In fact, it is my opinion that most games are very ephemeral. I mean that they’re very transient. Games tend to become like yesterday’s newspaper quite quickly. It’s not all games that do this. Of course we remember classics and there have been efforts to preserve the value of earlier games through backwards compatibility and emulator shots to play these old games on modern systems. Except many of the times they’re replaced, and the consensus seems to be that we’re now creating something superior and better. So to return to those would be doting on archaic and obsolete times.
“…to me, the digital release method almost seems like a perfect system. Except when immaterial games are sold at almost the same price as their physical counterparts. That’s the big problem for me.”
I think that RPGs, because they convey a value in their story, have a chance to barter with us. Whereas with something like a first person shooter is a perfect example of this ephemerality because, well, look at the Call of Duty series. It’s not something I play really, but it’s replaced with a new edition like every six months (laughs). No one’s playing the earlier editions, and they even unplug the online capabilities eventually, which just shows you that these games are made to be replaced. And that will be something I guess will be quite difficult for games to deal with, and I don’t know if it will be possible to overcome altogether – their own transience. For a corporate entity, that’s not as great of a concern, because they are always going to be pushing profits and going on to the next technology. But for an independent artist who might want to encase something valuable – their true feelings and what they truly want to convey – in a game, that is more concerning. It seems to stress that…well, our games require more time. Let’s say if I was to write a book over three years and publish that book, it would have a timeless quality. Whereas if that time was spent making a game, at the end of the day, that game is going to be played, then there will be a fanfare and the rallying around it. But then it will be switched out for whatever is new. I don’t know if that will be possible to overcome, simply due to the nature of the medium. Or if there really will be perhaps a strengthened interest in these older games, as there has been with let’s just say silent film – even though with silent films it’s something like 80% of the films created in the silent era have been lost forever. I wonder if this independent game movement won’t lead to a similar disintegration. Like right now we’re on the cusp of Windows 8 being released. Well, what does that really hold for independent games that are, a lot of the time, made on archaic software? Independent artists might not be able to afford the newest software, and a lot of the time they won’t have time to learn it.
Statik: It’s true, yeah; that’s very true. And most games and companies making them are interested in going digital now. But then here’s this interest in collecting physical copies of older games. So you have these digital games that aren’t physically decaying, but are getting outdated quicker – beyond usability. And on the other hand, you have games that will hopefully always be there as they’re dragged through time with us. But then, due to the digital format, you have all of these other games that aren’t so collectible because you can delete them in just a second, a step away from being lost for good. It’s a weird, contradictory culture.
JC: Yeah, to me, the digital release method almost seems like a perfect system. Except when immaterial games are sold at almost the same price as their physical counterparts. That’s the big problem for me. There should be a greater acknowledgement that when it is digital, it isn’t as valuable. It doesn’t cost as much to produce; it’s more likely to be lost – losing your data in a crash or it becomes corrupt, or any number of things. And of course, that could happen with a disc too, right, but at least it is an object you can preserve. It’s not something that’s going to be as susceptible to corruption and decay in the same way that an immaterial is. Obviously, that sounds weird because an immaterial object can’t decay because it doesn’t exist. But being technology, it does decay in the sense that it becomes obsolete. And at the rate we’re going now, technology is becoming obsolete faster than physical objects are decaying (laughs).
It’s something that I find a little bit unsettling because when I have children, I want them to have physical books rather than having an iPad – you know, essentially books on a television screen. I want them to have a personal relationship with a physical objects. There was an image I saw over the internet that actually quite startled me. Basically, it was an article that compared cellphones of the 90s to those of today. And the recent ones kind of have that H.A.L. look from 2001 (A Space Odyssey) – they kind of all look like little black monoliths, right, with a little red dot. And before there was all this variety, and I was thinking the way that we’re going now with television, gaming and books, they’re all harboring themselves in these new pieces of technology, and it almost creates a lack of demand for them as separate entities. So I would be concerned that in the future that we just have an empty room and a big monolith (laughs).
Statik: This ties in with our shared interest in Svankmajer too because he was always one to ensure that his work felt ‘tactile’. And that’s something that interests me with a lot of older films too – Ray Harryhousen films are appealing to me, for instance. Because those of today tend to be flossed out with CGI, it’s the same with many games too, and something about them just doesn’t feel right. It’s hard to connect with them. It’s as if there’s no human input there, and instead they’re this weird anomaly that’s appeared on the screen.
JC: You’re right; they all seem like ghosts. Even when they’re really well realized, they have this phantom-like quality about them. They don’t seem to catch the lighting quite right or they don’t portray the dimensions of the reality they’re in accurately. So it betrays the reality that they’re trying to capture.
Svankmajer has a concern with tactile objects because they have a history behind them, because they’re marked. And not only objects, but antiques at that. He likes things that are not only read, but aged, and they seem to have adopted a personality of their own.
Statik: Yeah, I like things that are imperfect. For example, an old person’s face is more interesting with its wrinkles and scars than a young person’s face to me. You can’t fake something that has a story or a history behind it, or at least you can’t do it justice or convince people of it entirely.
JC: I took up acting for quite a while. In fact, it’s something alongside writing that I took a brief interest in. I guess I’m trying to find a home for these stories I wanted to tell and take part in. But in acting I was advised that you should sometimes try to carry a certain eccentric quality with your character. Not only that, but also perhaps an object. So when improvising, let’s say you come on stage with an object, then you immediately have something to talk about and interact with. The idea behind it is that you then have a sense of prior history behind the character personality that really enriches what you can do with them; it helps to activate the imagination.
[Part 2 of my interview with John Clowder will explore more in-depth details of how he made Middens and what he was trying to achieve through making the game. We also talk about his plans for Moments Of Silence and what we can expect, as players, from the game.]