Tuesday, 11 October 2022

proto-zoetrope (10. 212)

Via Messy Nessy Chic, we are directed to an artefact found in sizable archaeological Bronze Age settlement of Shahre-e Sukhteh (ุดู‡ุฑ ุณูˆุฎุชู‡, Persian for Burnt City) found amongst of treasure of the Helmand culture including an artificial eye, the oldest known board-game with playable pieces and dice, a human skull displaying evidence of successful brain surgery and this earthenware goblet, all items approaching five millennia in age, that depicts was researchers consider to be first animation—see previously. When the vessel is rotated, it reveals a leaping goat taking a bite off a leaf.

Saturday, 26 February 2022

8x8

squirrel monkey: imagining Wordle vintage 1985—see also  

ะผะธัั‚ะตั†ั‚ะฒะพ: Ukrainian art community despairs as invasion advances

rumble: the overlooked musical virtuosity of Link Wray  

snake island: Ukrainian soldiers stand their ground and face off a battleship defending a military outpost on Zmiinyi, the rocky islet where Achilles was entombed 

regression to the mean: a spate of controversial laws passed in the US to curtail discussions in classroom that would make straight, white cis people uncomfortable (previously)

existential crisis: dread creeps into the everyday and makes it difficult to focus on what’s vital and the ultimately inconsequential  

ะฐั€ั…ั–ั‚ะตะบั‚ัƒั€ะฝะพั—: Ukrainian designers and architects fight back against Russian incursion  

acrophobia: sociable early internet word game that solicited wrong answers only plus several contemporaries

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

7x7

desert fox: play-through for a complex, WWII-themed board game, The Campaign for North Africa, that requires over fifteen hundred hours to complete  

hill house: a giant drying-box that preserves an Art Deco marvel by Charles Rennie Mackintosh—via Things Magazine 

the greatest thing since sliced bread: a satisfying video showing the steps in production in an industrial bakery in South Korea  

lightsaber flavour: alternative designations from young people that far surpass their proper names—via Miss Cellania’s Links 

rip: a celebration of the life and vision of Douglas Trumbull, special effects artist behind Silent Running, Close Encounters, 2001 and many others

multiple arcade machine emulator: after a quarter of a century, the MAME project is still releasing monthly new additions for home play—via Waxy  

ltee: the E. coli long-term evolution experiment has been running since 1988 and monitoring the mutations in twelve original strains over tens of thousands of generations

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

6x6

putting the fun in fungible: NFTs appraised on Antiques Roadshow, via Messy Nessy Chic  

anagrams everywhere: the intrusive, obsessive thoughts of a Scrabble enthusiast—via Kottke’s Quick Linkssee also  

maths hysteria: a celebration of vintage calculator manuals  

dishes for luck and prosperity: traditional Lunar New Year cuisine laden with word-play and symbolism  

old brown ears is back: a cover album from under-appreciated Muppet character, Rowlf the Dog  

nasm: Smithsonian Air & Space museum accepts donation from a tech billionaire—notably absent a “morals clause” which would allow the institution to disassociate itself with their benefactor should their values become misaligned

Friday, 26 November 2021

7x7

limerent limerick: help in recognising unhealthy obsessions and how to work one’s way out of intrusive thinking—hopefully through bawdy rhymes 

there and back again: Gene Deitch’s animated short The Hobbit—the first such adaptation  

roll for perception: a collection of resources, a florilegium from a Society for Creative Anachronism member for the LARP community—via Mx van Hoorn’s cabinet of hypertext curiosities  

avenue of the sphinxes: a restored promenade between Luxor and Karnak opened with fanfare  

opiate for the masses: drug use in Antiquity 

mlhavรฝ: Martin Rak’s fog-draped forests in Saxon-Bohemia—see previously 

here’s mud in your eye: a select glossary of beer and imbibing terminology—via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump


 

Monday, 6 September 2021

ฤlea iacta est

Via the ever excellent Everlasting Blรถrt, we are directed to this pair of Roman anthropomorphic dice, silver squatting figurines weighted (equitably presumably) to fall in one of six (tesserae, though usually in games in the Empire tossed in threes) positions.

The above phrase attributed to Julius Caesar by the historian Suetonius when the general brought his provincial army into the capital is like other quotations a likely translation from the Greek borrowing from the humorist Menander, «แผˆฮฝฮตฯฯฮฏฯ†ฮธฯ‰ ฮบฯฮฒฮฟฯ‚», let a die be cast in either form the phrase meaning metaphorically reaching a point of no return from whose juncture the decisions are irreversible.

Friday, 25 June 2021

beige

Commissioned originally by a paint company for voice-over artist Ken Nordine to write and perform radio spots in the style of signature his “word jazz” albums (also long-time WBEZ Chicago public radio host of the programme of the same name), the work expanded by 1967 into a full recording of some thirty tracks, personifying a different colour each, kind of like Eighty-Eight Lines about Forty-Four Women. Covered hues include Puce, Chartreuse, Ecru and Mauve. The reverse of the sleeve and liner-notes included byzantine instructions for a board game and make a finger-painting based on the order prescribed and scoring was self-apparent.

Friday, 19 February 2021

6x6

seven minutes of terror: Perseverance lands on Mars, beginning its search for signs of past life  

cyborg tomato: AI Weirdness (previously) generates its own mascot—plus others  

polar flare: examining every map projection and how it distorts our world view at once—see previously  

simon says: a vast archives of electronic handheld and table-top games and consoles from decades past—via Swiss Miss  

fabian society: capitalism coexists with constructivism in Czech city of Zlรญn  

hello world: the newest Martian probe beams back its first images

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

six wedges

On this evening back in 1979, over a game of Scrabble two newspaper editors, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott—unable to locate all their letter tiles, decided to make up their own game, establishing the basic concept for what would become Trivial Pursuit—the board game commercially released in 1981.

Monday, 21 September 2020

disrupted chess

Via the always excellent Nag on the Lake, we are introduced to the range of multi-sensory board games—fluxchess sets—conceived and crafted by studio artist (see previously) Takako Saito to question the primacy of vision to play and in the artistic aesthetic in general by tethering experience to higher planes through the richness of perception and incorporating all the senses.

In addition to the pictured version where players have to ascertain each phial-piece’s rank and range of motion by sampling the liquor it contains, there is also spice chess with the chessmen identical and distinguished into one of the six by its scent and more tactile and acoustic games. Much more to explore at the source link up top.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

park place and pall mall

With a long layover and an afternoon to wander Londontown, markets consultant Dan Barker (via Kottke’s Quick Links) used his time to document the properties on that city’s version of the game Monopoly (previously) and provide a bit of history and context for each as he moves around the board with the capital’s streets and stations still in the grips of quarantine and social distancing. Real estate costs have increased significantly as compared to Atlantic City.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

8x8

expansion pack: kit and ideas for remixing new board games by combining pieces and platforms of classic games one already owns—via Kottke’s Quick Links

video phone: the teleconferencing tool that’s being forced on many of us is a privacy and security nightmare whose long-term liabilities far outweigh the benefits of seeing colleagues in pyjamas

razliv haystack: a look into how the mythos of Lenin fuelled the early Soviet tourism industry

stay sane, stay safe: a graphic design community’s rapid response to promote positivity

at home everywhere: with at least a quarter of the world’s population under at least partial lockdown, a design duo has turned national flags into houses

utica club: beer steins Schultz and Dooley (voiced by Jonathan Winters) advertise Matt Brewery’s flagship beverage

tossed dallas: Tuna Antipasto and assorted silliness—see previously

mashrabiya and mezzanine: a celebration of balconies

Thursday, 31 January 2019

15 x 15

Delightfully, some eight decades after it was first prototyped and trialled in the basement of a Methodist church in the neighbourhood of Queens, the board game Scrabble, still enduring and having gone multi-lingual, has earned a semi-official historic marker in the form of this street sign.
In 1938, out of work architect Alfred Mosher Butts (*1899 – †1993) came up with the concept of play and conducted a frequency analysis on letters, assigning values to the tiles. The street sign may not be a high-scoring hand and was originally probably an homage of an enthusiastic Scrabble club but the city’s department of public works have dutifully replaced the modified marker when it was inevitably pilfered.

Monday, 5 November 2018

tafl top

Our gratitude to TYWKIWDBI for the introduction to the family of Nordic and Celtic strategy board games played out on a grid with asymmetrical armies with the player on the defensive clustered at the centre of the board—protecting a king or castle from capture.
Known as hnefatafl (fist-table—I guess for pounding the table and upsetting the pieces out of frustration over losing) or Viking chess, variants were played in the British Isles and Scandinavia for centuries—with the received rules written down by natural philosopher Linnaeus in the eighteenth century, but so rife with errors and mistranslations that the rules needed to be re-written and the original form of play was lost. Trying to reconstruct this ancient game, however, and watching it evolve has proven to be a fun and fertile activity. Learn more at the link up top.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

rent gap and rehabilitation

Via the always brilliant Nag on the Lake, we are invited to play an unauthorised edition of the board game Monopoly whose rules and scoring invoke the spirit of the original version of “The Landlord’s Game” far better than the Parker Brothers’ interpretation or regional variants.
The art collective Chinatown Soup’s Chinatown edition features anchoring shops and local businesses rather than more or less desirable properties for development and poses challenges to players to save neighbourhoods from the blight of gentrification rather than be rewarded for it as a virtue and promotes socially responsible growth. One has to rehouse, for example, displaced residents priced-out of their homes—another reason that the board is not given addresses owing to the amorphous nature of gentrification that’s not bounded by certain streets or districts and people are moved to the margins. Learn more about the collective’s activities and activism at the link above.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

game of optional goals


Had I not learned otherwise, I would have thought that this alternative reality version, meritocratic of the board game Monopoly was some sort of commission from some No Such Agency to communicate with its field agents but Careers from Parker Brothers was introduced in 1955. In addition to the outer track, there are several internal loops, career paths to try and many more regular opportunities to draw cards of chance and a rather involved scoring system (recorded on a Magic Slate Paper Saver pad) to monitor progress and achieve a sort of work-life balance with a Success Formula of money, fame and happiness. Designed by sociologist, ethnographer and author James Cooke Brown (*1921 - †2000), players could aspire to be an astronaut, farmer or a uranium prospector among other things and landing on the same square as another knocked the first player to “the park bench”—intimating that they were out of work and fallen on hard times. Later versions of the game were adapted to better reflect the cultural milieu.


Sunday, 3 June 2018

tabletop

TYWKIWDBI directs our attention to the ultimate, extended Monopoly board—which was apparently prototyped, with the rules of play laid out here but was never put into production due to (ironically) copyright issues. The discussion at the source thread is a pretty interesting one on how most game play is conducted according to house-rules and most never bother with the formal instructions. Would you like to play this Inception-version of the game? Maybe an enterprising designer could pull it off and successfully pitch it to the company.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

zero-player game

Conceived in 1970, the Game of Life is a demonstration of iterative arrays from British polymath and professor John Horton Conway. Categorised as a zero-player game, human involvement or volition only takes place at the initial state, seeding the game’s grid universe, which determines how the board evolves over subsequent generations. Each grid square or cell can be either populated or unpopulated—on or off—and interacts with the eight other cells that frame it according to four basic protocols: an isolated cell perishing from underpopulation, a cell with the right amount of neighbours thrives, a cell with too many neighbours dies from overcrowding, and an unpopulated cell with a precise amount of neighbours becomes populated—as if by reproduction.
Cellular automata such as these have practical applications in encryption and security, owing the unpredictable nature of the outcome though the world and conditions can be fully known, but also produces interesting, stable algorithmic organisms that oscillate and creep across the board. Of course these creatures only evolve by analogy, sort of like how artificial intelligence is an approximation of cognition through pattern-recognition and exploitation, but is a useful tool for visualising how computational routines work and a way to comprehend how machines learn and behave in novel and unexpected ways.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

monte carlo method

Notwithstanding the adage that only God can generate truly random numbers—that is outcomes not contingent on some inscrutable or traceable series of prior actions—or the pronouncement that God does not play dice, in 1955 (and reprinted to the playful derision of critics in 2001) the RAND Corporation published its big book of random numbers, one of the last in the genre, under the title A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates. Made obsolete by the ability of computers to generate serviceably pseudo-random numbers (much like logarithmic tables), such endeavours, made with a roulette wheel and a computer, were important and foundational brokers in cryptography and security ciphers.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

tabletop

The curatorial staff over at Hyperallergic feature an absolutely amazing collection of board games acquired by ardent collectors Ellen and Arthur Liman that reach back to the conception of the evening’s entertainment in the early nineteenth century. A spinoff from advances in printing technologies, as ephemera, the topics emphasised and values signalled (here are a few other examples of select messaging) offer a rather unique glimpse at the popular imagination of people the UK of Georgian and Victorian eras. Be sure to visit the link up top to peruse a whole gallery of wholesome pastimes and to learn more about the collection’s recent compilation in book form.