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Issue two • the limits issue

Scott McCloud

talks creative freedom & creative constraints New Funding Models Indie Game: The Movie & the Kickstarter community

Spring, ephemera & printing in 3D


CURSE THE SUN


TABLE OF CONTENTS

4 6 10 11 12 14 16 18 22 25 26

Letter from the Editor Our editor, Sara Eileen Hames, talks about twenty-four: the project and the community.

Interview Ian Danskin asks Scott McCloud many questions.

Phantom Limits Steven Padnick explores the limits of genre.

Train Story Steven Padnick and Pablo Defendini collaborate on a comic.

3D - Grab Your Glasses! Our contributors and the city, IN 3-D! (*requires red-cyan glasses, not provided.)

Contributor Interviews: Limits Rose Ginsberg asks each member of our staff about a limit of interest to their craft.

Poetry Flight and Light, by Tania Asnes.

Word Limits Elizabeth Boskey takes on the exacting art of exact word counts.

Cocktails Five cocktails by Meg Grady-Troia, composed exclusively from the contents of our onsite cabinet.

Politics Rose Ginsberg on feminism and choices, and Kevin Clark on the GOP.

Interview Kevin Clark asks Cindy Au about managing Kickstarter’s community.

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29 30 34 36 40 48 49 50 51 60 62

Interactive Games Casey Middaugh on limits, art, and and collaborative storytelling.

Interview Ian Danskin, Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky talk about Indie Game: The Movie.

Artist Profile John Reid makes the world’s squeakiest dress. Casey Middaugh tells his story.

Artist Profile Elizabeth Cherry’s fantastical hats.

Transmedia Chain It starts with a musical score and ends with a cocktail. Your turn!

Science Ian Danskin on the limits of human knowledge.

Chatting Rose Ginsberg’s ongoing conversation with 24 Hour Play director Sarah Bisman.

Documentation Haiku Casey Middaugh’s 11 “haiku.”

Making the Tempest Prospero’s speech: a practical guide to rehearsing an acting marimba.

Ephemera Jack Stratton on a life reflected in objects and art.

Contributors At 6am we wrote our bios. We were tired.

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Here we are again, my friends. Perhaps you know precisely what twenty-four is all about. Perhaps you have been following us for the past five months as we’ve built a little community, and raised a little money, and released a first precocious issue. But in case you haven’t, if you happened to pick this magazine up from a coffee table or a rack somewhere, please allow me a moment to explain.

to Elizabeth, who can write six almost perfect pieces on a bad day and a flat tire; to Kevin, who forces us outside of print with gleeful satisfaction, to Rose, for making words appear with faultless generosity, to Steven, who started over four times and kept on going, to Victoria, for making media full of wonder,

The object you hold in your hands is being made as I write this. Yesterday morning it was only a collection of ideas. In six hours it will be finished. As we make it, the story of its creation is being told online.

to Ian, for doing things that make him nervous,

Now that we’ve moved a little distance beyond our roller-coaster of a first issue, twenty-four’s future is beginning to take shape. We’ve committed to publishing an issue a quarter for at least the next year, and we are rapidly collecting an amazingly talented community of contributors. twenty-four is designed to be not only a magazine, but an experience between creators and consumers. It will hopefully continue to pull together eclectic groups of remarkable people with the goal of uncovering shared creative experiences, and do so in a format that allows each of us to dedicate ourselves to the experience entirely, if only for a short time.

to Tania, moving so cleverly through our space and photographs,

It’s also become clear that each of our issues will be uniquely flavored by its particular group of contributors. I remain deeply, ferociously grateful to every person who has joined us today. So:

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to Johanna, for populating our world with color, to Rich, who forgave me graciously when I locked him out, to Casey, who loves through her words as well as her life, to Pablo, quietly drawing comics with occasional breaks for dry humor, to Jack, who makes us beautiful; and to each of our readers, without whom this magazine would simply be a collection of people speaking into empty rooms: thank you. With love, respect, and 4am giddy joy,


INTERVIEW Scott McCloud, Interview with Ian Danskin I first read Scott McCloud when some of his webcomics were frontpaged on MetaFilter. He had written a two-part comics essay about micropayments as a means of self-publishing one’s work on the web, which caused a bit of a dust-up in the webcomic community. His webcomics were long and they never broke into separate pages—you simply scrolled down until they were done. Each panel connected to the following one with a thick line, which, I notice on reflection, frequently led my eye to read right-to-left as naturally as left-to-right. I first read his most famous work, Understanding Comics, in the café at Borders without paying for it because they didn’t have it at the library (I got halfway through Making Comics before they sold the only copy). His work is lucid and endlessly fascinating, and what’s more, he’s the founder of the 24-Hour Comic, of which twenty-four is a semi-direct descendent. Here we talk about self-imposed constraints while I hold my cell phone over a field recorder. IAN DANSKIN: So, you are the creator of, I believe, the very first 24-Hour Comic. Is that correct? SCOTT MCCLOUD: Yes, in 1990, I think it was. ID: And what was your motivation for creating that? SM: It was actually to help out a friend named Steve. ID: That’s Steve Bissette1, right? SM: Yeah, Steve Bissette. He and I both had reputations as being very slow, but I had seen him do sketches and store signings, and the guy was wizard. He could go incredibly fast. So, I thought, well, why is it that this guy can’t turn out tons of comics every year instead of the, like, 14 pages a year or whatever he was

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doing at the time? So, I challenged him. I said, you know, “I’ll bet you can draw a comic in a day.” And we came up with this pact that we would both—because I knew he wouldn’t do it unless I promised to do it, too. So, we said, “Okay. By the 30th of the month, we’re going to do this.” And, on the very last day of the month, both of us had put it off. [LAUGHTER] I started doing mine. And then, halfway through, I found out that he had chickened out and didn’t do his, because—well, actually, because stuff got in the way. He would do his six days later. But, as a result, I wound up going it alone for the first one.

and more people, more and more cartoonists, gave this a try. And then, in 2004—I think it might have been more than 1,000 people had done it—my friend Nat Gertler proposed that there be a day, 24-Hour Comics Day. That’s been going since 2004. And we also get, like, you know, 20 or more countries participating in that. And Tina Fallon began the 24-Hour Plays in New York after seeing—I think there was an exhibition or something of 24-hour comics. That led to other mutations. There have been 24-hour film festivals, 24-hour games, 24-hour animations.

ID: Yeah, there’s also, like, two-day and ID: And did you like what you weeklong things. I mean, there’s came up with? the novel-writing month Any creative going on—I think it’s SM: I kind of did. You work begins with going on pretty soon.2 know, one of the things the choice of which that I’ve discovered, and SM: Yeah. And, you limitations to embrace I think others have over know, it’s gotten so elabthe years, is that, most orate and so widespread for aesthetic reasons. of the time, when you’re that I often can’t keep That’s never going making comics, your track of which ones [trace] to change. brain works so much faster their heritage back to the than your hands. You know, 24-hour comics and which ones you come up with one idea and, by don’t. I’m sure some of them just the time you can draw the thing, you’ve come came about spontaneously. There had been up with 10 more ideas. And it can be really speed contests before. I remember Harlan frustrating. But, with 24-hour comics, you’re Ellison famously sat in a store window and moving so fast that your hand is working wrote a story for every letter in the alphabet faster than your brain half the time. So, you over a long weekend, I think it was. So, there are running out of ideas and your hand’s still have definitely been speed exercises before. going. You have to keep going. And I think But I think, you know, generally speaking, it’s what a lot of people do is they have to reach just a really useful thing to do every once in a down to the creative backup generator of the while, to just see what you have in you. subconscious. And they wind up pulling all ID: Do you think that’s the appeal of this? these crazy ideas out of their ass. I mean, it seems like everybody does it for ID: [LAUGHTER] So, who was next? It sort of caught on slowly and then got bigger and bigger. SM: Well, one of the key vectors was Dave Sim. His comic, Cerebus, printed a bunch of 24-hour comics in the back. And that spread the idea. And then, over time, more

their own reasons. But is it that way that, like, creativity and coming up with ideas sort of syncs up that draws so many people from so many different disciplines? SM: I think that’s part of it. I think there are a number of things that might attract people to the challenge. One is the fact that it is a


challenge. And, you know, many people are just attracted to the notion of competition and pushing themselves, pushing their limits. Another is solving those creative logjams, thinking outside the box. I think, you know, it’s very, very hard not to get into certain patterns, certain ruts, certain traditional ways of thinking. And something like this can really shake loose those preconceptions. And also, there’s the community aspect of it, too, in many cases, like what you’re doing with the 24-hour magazine, or the 24-Hour Plays. People are getting together and they’re in a real pressure-cooker situation. ID: There’s a few 24-hour comic meet-ups as well, right? SM: Yeah, quite a few. In fact, once 24-Hour Comics Day started, one of Nat’s ideas was to have hosted events. And a lot of these were hosted in comic book shops or at universities. And so you’d have 10 or 20 or even more people all at once. Some of them have reached as much as 60 people or more. ID: To sort of shift gears a little bit, it seems things like this get easier to do [because of] the way a lot of creative technology is getting cheaper and easier distributed, and the Web makes it easier to share these things with an audience, like, the day after you make it. SM: Yeah. ID: And you’ve talked a lot about new distribution models and funding models. And I guess I’m sort of curious—do you see that tying in with the distribution of 24-hour comics as well? SM: It does, and I think it ties in in two ways. I mean, in the one sense, it’s a facilitator. This new environment facilitates and is a practical aid to doing these sorts of things. But it also might be a case where we’ve become more acclimated to the idea of these sudden collaborative eruptions. You know, this is the sort of thing that seems much more natural

in this environment than it ever did before. We have it in physical spaces with groups like Improv Everywhere or flash mobs. And we have just this notion that it’s possible to get a worldwide network of people together on very short notice. So you have, you know, musical collaborations, the various video collaborations that we’ve seen. That takes place sometimes just on an everyday level. I mean, there are people for whom that’s becoming blasé, just ordinary, “Oh, yeah, another day, another 10,000 people getting together to make something.” ID: Regarding these new distribution and funding models, you’ve talked a lot about webcomics. Just checking your pulse, with new things like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, how are webcomics doing these days? [PAUSE] I know it’s a broad topic. [LAUGHTER] SM: Well, you talk to most cartoonists, and they’ll say, “Well, you know, almost nobody makes a living at it.” But that’s not really true, of course. It’s just that maybe, as always—I mean, this may have always been true—it’s still a minority that makes a significant amount of money on it. But, yeah, I think, when you have tens of thousands of people making stuff—and you do; you have that many people making webcomics—as a community, they’re bound to come up with some really good solutions. And many of them have. Even before crowdfunding came along, we did have a handful of pretty successful webcomics artists who just discovered that, when you have 100,000 people reading anything, there’s going to be a significant subset of that group that’s willing to help support you on a significant level, and then a larger group that’s willing to support you on a more trivial level of just, you know, tossing a few bucks your way. It’s just a numbers game. I mean, if you have a big enough audience, and if that money is flowing through a fairly fat pipe and is not

being diverted as it was, say, in the print world, the numbers are pretty overwhelming. Now, you know, back in the day, I was hoping that we might see something in the way of a direct exchange of small amounts of currency, the whole micropayments debate early in the century. But, with things like Kickstarter, we’re seeing a demonstration of a lot of the same dynamics. It’s just a simple fact that, you know, whatever the reader does with their dollar, whatever the audience does with that dollar in their pocket, if 90 cents is landing at the feet of the producer instead of 10 cents, that’s a different dynamic. And it was 10 cents in my day. ID: Yeah. Micropayment seems to have really caught on in music, surprisingly. [LAUGHTER] SM: Well, of a sort. You know, there’s a huge difference between what guys like me were advocating for and what we see in, say, the iTunes model. ID: I suppose, yeah. What are the differences? SM: Most significantly in the fact that you have a single vendor. You know, I was hoping for a single provider of currency and many vendors. ID: Yeah. SM: It’s worrisome when you have a single vendor. And that was really one of the great dangers that we see now, is that there’s this bottleneck. And we’ve already seen it in the example of works being rejected from the iTunes store because of content. That wouldn’t be happening if there was just somebody minting the coins. You know, you have a much more resilient network if you have a single provider of currency, or rather a small number of providers of currency, and then 10,000 vendors. So, you know, I’m not sure exactly how this is going to go. All I know is that there’s a very small number of hands that can choke off the

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INTERVIEW flow of work. Now, fortunately, that’s not true of crowdfunding right now. ID: Yeah, so far. SM: Yeah, so far. [LAUGHTER] I mean, we’ll see if Kickstarter takes progressively larger pieces of the pie. And, of course, everybody’s kind of counting down the days until we have Kickstarter fatigue. But, strangely, that hasn’t happened. ID: Yeah, it actually seems to just be getting bigger. SM: Yeah. And I’m not really sure what’s going on there. I mean, it could be that we were wrong. It could be that the fatigue would only kick in if you have an individual asker, you know, an individual provider continually asking for funding. You might get that kind of fatigue. But the model itself is not going to generate fatigue, because there’s always somebody new that you’re devoted to as an audience member. ID: Do you consider using Kickstarter someday in the future? SM: Maybe. It’s not necessary for me right now. And I think people might give me the hairy eyeball if they get the impression that I’m asking for money I don’t need yet. But, at a certain point, yeah, I could see it working for certain types of things. ID: Well, Kickstarter seems to have an interesting tension to it, because so much of the time, the more established you are, like if people can click and see that you’ve already made things, then that almost helps you more. And crowdfunding comes with this problem of, well, you have to have already made something in order to make something.

producers of, say, gadgets or accessories that people heard about and they were like, “Yes, oh my God, this is something I wanted and I didn’t even know it until I saw that little video.” Those things get passed around. It really doesn’t matter who the person is. It’s more of a meritocracy than it was. That’s still true. That’s been true now almost all the way back to Mosaic3, that what we have in the virtual space is more of a meritocracy. It’ll never completely be a meritocracy, but it’s getting closer than it was, because I remember what it was like in the dark ages. And trust me, there were so many arbitrary gates and moats and walls that prevented people of tremendous talent from making any kind of an impression, from even being available. It’s still moving in the right direction. ID: So, do you feel that artists, especially with these new models, are becoming freer with their work? SM: Well, of course, you know, the greatest limitation for any artist is themselves. And I’m sure already, if you look closely, you’ll begin to see artists distorting their work in order to fit into accepted channels. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there are already online courses for how to write or how to record a good Kickstarter video and how to— [LAUGHTER] you know, it’s coming like it’s just any other career path, in people’s minds. And that’s a kind of limitation, too. But, for the artist that’s unrestrained by their own imagination, that’s able to think outside the box, I don’t see anything else getting in their way. ID: So, is maybe this the most interesting time for Kickstarter, where it hasn’t quite become an institution yet and people are still using it very creatively?

SM: Well, unless you have an idea that’s going to go viral.

SM: The beginning is always the most interesting time for anything.

ID: Hmm.

ID: Yeah.

SM: I mean, some of the successful Kickstarters, I think, have relatively unknown

SM: But what it becomes from here—you know, it may not be about Kickstarter. It

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probably isn’t about Kickstarter specifically. You’re looking at the power of crowds. And that’s not going to subside as an issue for a very, very long time. ID: Yeah, not unless the population drops. SM: Well, yes. [LAUGHTER] It would have to drop a lot, though. [LAUGHTER] ID: So, if limitations generally spur creativity, and now a lot of longstanding industry or distribution-style limitations are starting to disappear, does that affect creativity? When people can do anything, does it make it harder to know what to do? SM: No, that’s never been a threat to creativity. You know, if you look at forms in which there are limitations, say the haiku, or certain styles of drawing, those are limitations of choice. When you pick up a pen and a paper, you can put anything on that piece of paper. If you choose to write a form of poetry, it requires certain limitations. You’re imposing those limitations upon yourself. There’s nothing to stop you from picking it up like a five-yearold and just scribbling all over the paper. So those limitations are not going to go away. The option of limitations is not going to go away. Any creative work begins with the choice of which limitations to embrace for aesthetic reasons. That’s never going to change. My relationship to limitations is that what I see as a much greater danger is that people will see the limitations of one technology fall away as the new technology enters the stage. And, in my case, certainly the technology of print yielding to digital spaces. And what they will do is they will bring the limitations of the previous technology with them, and try to unconsciously import those limitations into the new form. That is a problem every day, that we’re not even aware of the degree to which we’re still informed by, constricted by, shaped by limitations that no longer exist. ID: It almost seems like innovation would


be—even if it’s slow, it seems almost inevitable. Like, even certain webcomic artists who aren’t particularly Web-savvy will still periodically just be like, “Oh, well, this comic, I can make it 100 panels long, and it will just scroll down for a long time.” SM: Yeah. Well, there, I mean, you have an interesting case there, because they are realizing that they can step outside those limitations. And hopefully they’ll have the good sense to give it some thought as to whether or not that’s a good idea aesthetically. Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn’t.

tried to point out to them that, while that is an option, to think, “How little can I put on a piece of paper in order to still represent something that looks like a comic?”—I’ve always thought it a more interesting challenge to say, “How much can you draw in an hour?” That, to me, is the soul of the challenge. ID: Or to have people commit to things that they’ve never done before, like Neil Gaiman drawing his own comic for the first time.

SM: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. To go outside your comfort zone is always useful, as a creative person. And, you know, maybe it’s Maybe But yeah, you’re absolutely just that moment when you it’s just that right that what’s going realize that you’re no longer moment when you on there—you know, in in school, but you still realize that you’re the case of somebody have to give yourself some no longer in school, who isn’t necessarily as assignments from time but you still have to conscious of those posto time. [LAUGHTER] give yourself some sibilities, who just kind You know? If you’re ever assignments from of stumbles in, starts doing going to keep learning. time to their own thing, and then at 80 percent of everything I time. some point wakes up and realknow I’ve learned since leaving izes, “Oh, I have these possibilities,” school. And I think, for a successful you know, those people are everywhere. But creative professional, that’s vital. really what they’re doing in many ways isn’t ID: It’s still depressing when your teachers so much innovation as adaptation. But they tell you that, though. both serve the same purpose. And they both SM: [LAUGHTER] Yeah. Yeah, it can be. lead to the same results. You can learn more about Scott McCloud, ID: It’s interesting. [What’s interesting] is and read his experiments with the webcomic the fact that people—with something like form, at scottmccloud.com the 24-Hour Comic or a 24-hour magazine or 24-hour plays—are often using these new models and collectively imposing really strict limitations on themselves, but of their own choosing. SM: Yes, absolutely. ID: And is that the biggest appeal? SM: Well, like I said, I think there are a number of different appeals. But that’s certainly one of the great creative appeals, is the notion that, within this stricture, you have so many possibilities. Some have taken a minimalist approach to the 24-hour comic. And I always

1 Comics artist Steve Bissette, best known for his work on Swamp Thing. 2 NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which begins in November. 3 Mosaic was the first web browser. I’ll admit that reference whizzed over my head.

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COMIC BOOKS p

To me, the most interesting thing about webcomics is how little they differ from print comics.

As newspaper subscriptions shrink and comic book stores close, comics have found a natural home on the web, basically intact. The most popular webcomics, like Penny Arcade, publish daily to weekly, mirroring the newspaper print schedule, and retain the horizontal orientation of newspaper strips. Even webcomics inspired by comic books rather than strips, and thus laid out vertically, like The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, work well on the screen. There have been some minor innovations that are common to webcomics, such as rollover text to slip in an extra joke or editorial footnotes that are also hyperlinks to relevant strips, but for the most part webcomics are just print comics, formatted as a JPG and slapped on a page. And I think that’s fine.

There have been experiments in innovations with webcomics. Randall Munroe’s April Fools Day comic this year varied depending upon the viewer’s browser and window size. Scott McCloud promotes the idea of an infinite canvas, where the full image is too big for any screen and the reader has to scroll in all directions to get the full story. And Patrick Farley has been experimenting with adding animation to webcomics for years. His piece “The First Word,” a single image that transforms as you scroll across it, is an inspiration for the comic in this magazine. But in all of these cases, and with all due respect to the artists, the innovation outweighs the actual content. Yes, these are cool ways of saying something, but are they saying anything that could not be said in a more traditional comics form? I already know how to read a comic. Without a good story, I have no reason to learn a new way of reading them. Someday, I think, someone will create the webcomic that could only be a webcomic, but it would have to be because they have a story that needs— that demands—their new innovation. Until then, the webcomic will be fine, if not anything that new. Really.

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Genre is a useful tool for art. It is useful for the audience because it can help them find new art they will probably like. People know what they’ve liked before, whether in books, or movies, or music, or paintings, or clothing. If they liked this one novel or that one song, the odds are good that they will like other pieces in the same genre. And genre can be useful for the artist too. Genre gives creators predefined tools, an agreed-upon language with which to speak to an informed and eager audience. They don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time they make art. On the other hand, genres are limiting by definition. Sometimes these definitions cut to the core of the genre; i.e. something impossible has to happen for a story to be considered a fantasy. Sometimes, however, the definitions are more about style and features. The audience for a daytime drama expects melodramatic relationships. The audience for a Broadway show expects show-stopping belting. The audience for an opera expects melodramatic relationships punctuated by show-stopping belting. But these conceptual definitions are often just the echoes of physical limitations that existed in the original medium: opera is sung loudly to reach the audience in the back of the theater in the days before amplification; film noir is black and white because color was too expensive for cheap gangster films in the 1940s; and auto-biographical comics are black and white line art because the underground comix of the late 1960s had to be photocopied for hand distribution. In each of these genres the financial or technological limitations have long since faded away, and yet the genres’ styles remain.

One could ignore these definitions— make the brightly colored crime story, the quiet and subtle opera—but at the risk of alienating and losing the audience. And it’s perfectly possible to create new and creative art while staying within the bounds of an established genre, or even to create new art that’s outside of any established genre and therefore not have to challenge assumptions about how a beloved genre should be defined. Personally, I think the reason to redefine a genre is also the only way you can redefine a genre: because the art you are trying to make demands new forms. Create a sordid crime story in gritty color because it wouldn’t work in a world of sharp black and white contrasts, and you get Chinatown. Apply the song cycle format to a non-fiction subject with modern, pop vocal delivery, and you get Corey Dargel’s heartbreaking Last Words from Texas. Even this magazine is, in many ways, a ‘zine that eschews the traditional ‘zine aesthetic because we write and produce this on computers and would prefer to reflect our actual process. We need innovators in each field, if not necessarily to stretch the definitions of genres, then at least to give them the occasional shakedown cruise. We need to discover what parts of a genre are core to its existence, and what parts are just vestigial limits, the phantom limbs of old mediums, felt more in the absence than in the world.

- Ste en paDniCK


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SCript By Ste en paDniCK • art By paB o DefenDini


3D - GRAB YOUR GLASSES!

N O TE: THI S I S N O T A P R I NT I NG E R RO R !

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PHOTOS BY VICTO RIA N ECE


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MINI-INTERVIEWS Question: What is a limit in your creative work that either inspires you or that you chafe against (or both)? Don’t say ‘money’ or ‘time!’

Elizabeth Boskey The biggest limit to my creative work is that I am creative for a living. I no longer write and perform only for my own pleasure. Instead, I have to shape my creations to the needs of others. The benefit, of course, is that I have an audience. The things I care about are seen. The downside is that sometimes what I want to share isn’t something I can sell. Before I built myself a platform for my words, it didn’t bother me to shout into the void. It’s more difficult to do so now that I’ve gotten used to being heard.

Kevin Clark My music has a lot of people who have to perform in two ways. And they’re usually acting musicians of some kind. If you play the cello, you’re going to have to recite a poem. If you play the saxophone, you’re going to have to recite a poem. If you play the marimba, guess what? And that’s really hard to deal with. We encounter this with musicians, where the tools they have to shape a musical performance with emotion and character development are very rich, and they transfer really well to shaping a speech. What they don’t have is the vocal technique that a trained actor or singer would have. In my perfect world, everyone can play at least one instrument, sing really well in multiple styles, and act very well.

Ian Danskin With work that I’m doing for its own sake— it’s not an assignment—it is very difficult for me to just get myself to work on it, even though most of the time, if I can push through the first half-hour where I want to be doing anything else, then I’m really happy to be doing it. And it’s the work that usually matters the most to me that is the hardest to do. I imagine that stems from the self-doubt, that you think you can’t get it done or that it’s not worth doing. I mean, the artistic process is a process of discovery. It’s not going to look like it does in your head. And that’s usually good. But it’s also

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messy and tricky and imperfect. Trying to force yourself to grapple with that when you could just put on a movie…it’s not so much that the movie is better. It’s that the movie is so much easier.

Tania Asnes I’m working on undoing limits on my body and my ability to express and process and take in. I’m trying to unlearn the limits that I learned, certain ways of speaking that are appropriate or attractive, because I think my whole life I’ve been obsessed with being attractive and acceptable. None of that serves you in acting. And I am hitting those limits all the time. That’s why I’m studying movement; that’s why I’m studying improv. I have this instrument and I don’t know how to use it. Or I’ve been using it in one way so long that I don’t even remember what it was like to flail around on the floor, or in the air, or jump and be unconstrained.

Steven Padnick My real limit is not part of the work. It’s part of me. I see my own weaknesses as a writer pretty glaringly. I can see what I’m good at and what I’m not, and my limits are all in style. I don’t write very pretty prose, or not as good as I want the prose to be on the first draft. I really want to be a Mark Twain-esque writer where I can write two drafts and I’m done, just step away and have a mint julep. And when I say I’m more like a Fitzgerald writer, I don’t mean that I will end up with The Great Gatsby, but that I might have to do 40 drafts to end up with “okay”. The only way I will ever become great at writing is by writing. But it means, as many writers have said, you write a lot of shit first, and that is daunting. It is daunting to think that I will write a hundred thousand words before I write a good one.

Pablo Defendini I think limits in general are important. Having an assignment or creative endeavor that doesn’t have any constraints becomes difficult to navigate. And it’s not interesting. Limits are what define the outlines of a problem. And all or most creative endeavor is problem solving. So, a problem without constraints isn’t really a problem. I think

limits are built into creative endeavor. Selfimposed limits can be more interesting, although limits that are imposed externally can lead to more honest discovery, or more engaging discovery, simply because it’s a lot easier to go down paths that you weren’t really expecting to go down because you’re defining this problem based on somebody else’s terms.

Casey Middaugh I think my favorite limits to work to are briefs for what a game needs to be made for. So, it’s whatever requirements the people who want the game impose, because then it’s like a puzzle and figuring out what it is that I need to do to make it all work and fit within what they’re looking for. I find that inspiring, to know that they want me to do this very specific thing, but, within that very specific thing, I can do whatever I want. So, I did a game for the Hayward Gallery, an art gallery in London. They had this twostory-tall thatched fox. And they were partnering with a fox charity, a fox preservation charity. They had already named the game, “The Fox Hunt,” so we had to do that. It had to be within the space around the gallery. It had to be for an unspecified number of children and their families. And it needed to be as positive about foxes as possible, in spite of the fact that they’d already accidentally named it, “Fox Hunt.” So, I did a bunch of research, and I talked to a lot of fox authorities. And so there were certain things about fox behavior that I wanted to put into the game. So, it ended up being like a scavenger hunt, and you had to find the fox, who had disguised himself as a person. You wouldn’t be able to see that he was a fox. You had to find him through his behavior and through clues that had been left behind. And so that’s what I think is really fun about game design, is that you’ve given me these things that I need to fulfill. But, because it’s something new, and because it needs to be fun, I can do whatever the heck I want with that.


Victoria Nece My main line of work is documentary animation, so there’s this strange limit where I don’t have complete artistic freedom, because I have to be accurate. That’s always a priority, to be factually correct. In a lot of ways, it’s great, because it gives you a focus. It gives you a structure to start with. There’s certain information that people need for something to make sense. But part of why you have to be so accurate is that documentary audiences will complain about the tiniest things. We did a film for a museum that included a sequence with a bunch of pictures in antique picture frames. And the museum people told us, “These frames aren’t period accurate. We have to throw this graphic out completely unless you can get period-accurate frames, because we’ll get complaints.” It’s that level of fact-checking.

Sara Hames I chafe pretty hard against the limits of my own education when it comes to both technology and design, because a lot of the projects that I’m trying to do these days are very internet and digitally oriented, and they are also projects that are heavily reliant upon excellent design, whether that be graphic design or interation design. And I probably stop and curse my lack of a graphic design degree and/or computer science degree ten times a week. One of the ways that I get around that limitation is by trying to create more and more collaborative projects. And that simultaneously makes me very happy, because I have all of these amazing people surrounding me who are so good at what they do, and I know that I can’t be good at everything, but also—I should be good at everything! And it drives me crazy that I’m not.

Johanna Bobrow I would say the limit that I chafe against most is probably light; not enough photons. How do I get enough photons from the right direction, reflecting off of the right things, back into my camera, to get something that is in focus and has enough depth of field, to portray the image I want, given that I’m usually taking pictures of small things, indoors, not in natural light? I have a lens with a very wide aperture, which helps with that,

because it takes in as many photons as possible per second, but that means the depth of field is very narrow. But it’s still better than flash, which I generally use as little as possible, because it is not something I’ve learned. There are infinite things to be learned about artificial lighting, and I have only the smallest amount of knowledge of it.

Your mist

Jack Stratton

While were here

For good or bad, right now, I am writing to sell. And I’m okay with that, because there’s a long, great tradition of pulp novels and genre novels. And I find the constraints of writing towards trends that people are buying actually makes for a really creative atmosphere. So, that’s a big limitation, in that a lot of what I want to write, a lot of the things that I naturally tend to write about, aren’t as popular. And so, when faced with writing about things that are other people’s sort of desires or inspirations, it makes my work much more challenging and interesting in a lot of ways.

Deer Rose Fox, the very faire Copy editor extraordinaire, We know your their. And while at The floor we stair, We did hour best. We muddled threw with coffee and tea and cocktails and more cocktails and some bad puns and some terrible poetry

Rose Ginsberg

and we made art two.

One of my favorite limits to work with in theater is the limit of physical space. The constraints of the venue for any production I direct, whether it’s in a blackbox theater, the back room of a bar, or someone’s living room, literally shape the performance. And because theater is all about the immediacy of the experience, the performance will feel more alive for the audience if the actors and the production design embrace the difficulties of the space rather than fighting against them. Is it uncomfortably tiny? Get in the audience’s faces. Are there strange nooks and crannies? Hide in them, light them specially, incorporate them into the action. No matter how bad a space seems, you can use it to help you tell your story.

We hope your having fun. Wherever you our. Just no your mist By one and all.*

*We know.

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POETRY Blue Morpho didius Sideways hourglass, marking: we shall live out our lives in 6 x 7” acrylic, or a riker mount, an addition to the house, a framing narrative; insects only, another entry for Denis’ Encyclopedie, reflections of relics, mementos of the first ones who gathered stones to build their wings, soft and vulnerable, caterpillars all but for the bones, browbeaten and cowed, they sank instantly. Surfacing, you are the face of (fate)(fear)(fantasy) phosphorescing skeleton, your glimmer intrinsic, scales reflecting; do I measure my life in your wingspans, you and you, locked in an airy dance, thin, silken eagles spiraling, emblems of a fallen age— reptiles roaming, we but a glimmer in the eye of our anonymous, omniscient creator, you iridescing, soaring within glass. What do you think happens when we die? She asked a fleet of silken blue wings released, an explosion of energy - TA N I A AS N ES

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For Eugenia They tell us we are thin-skinned, soft-shelled But our exquisite sensitivity Our propensity to care And then to bruise We care, and this is how We know we are here. Our bruises are true. When a pin of light Pricks the tunnel darkness Will you not want sensitive eyes For guides Yes. We are here. We will stay. We will wait. We are the gentle attendants, Midwives of your journey. I will wait on you I am here. - Tan i a A s n es

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WORD LIMITS

Words: 100

100

Writers have always had to deal with word limits, but today such limits are becoming an almost instinctive component of modern communication. Tweets and text messages are limited to 140 characters, and we are learning to ration not just our words but also our letters. Limits change both the way we talk and the way we think. The need to fit an idea into a defined space shapes our perceptions and conclusions. There is only so much complexity that can fit into 100 words. In this issue of twenty-four magazine, I am exploring the freedom found in those boundaries. - EL I ZA B ET H B OS K E Y

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Space: 250 Public spaces are often defined by limits of use. Some of these are—at least theoretically—for the public’s safety. Others are designed to protect the integrity of the area, either physically or socially. However, whether or not people benefit from these limits is sometimes a subject for debate.

250

Questions of how public spaces can and should be used were front and center during the early days of the Occupy movement. When occupying public spaces, protesters often pushed up against the limits of their use. Although government officials did sometimes have legitimate concerns about public safety when evicting protestors, other limits were clearly being enforced for political rather than practical reasons. This highlighted the fact that some boundaries set “for the public good” may only benefit a select few.

The limits we place on public spaces are not inherently good or bad. They simply reflect what we do and do not value as a society. By forbidding rock climbing in a public park, the government shows it prioritizes limiting liability over allowing people to make their own decisions about risk. By keeping hikers out of wildlife areas and wetlands, we place the importance of preserving the physical environment over an individual’s freedom to roam. Our society is anything but monolithic. The boundaries that some people applaud are to others an invitation to transgress. Some people prioritize defending the environment. Others would do anything to keep tight grasp on the status quo. Who sets the limits? Who decides what to respect? - E LIZ ABETH BO SKEY

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WORD LIMITS be a bad thing stunned psychologists. Historically, it was believed that giving people more options was always to their benefit. However, the studied sets of choices had always been relatively small. Only in the modern consumer market had people truly been given the chance to experience what some scientists were starting to call choice overload.

The default choice for a parole board is to keep a prisoner in jail, and the data suggested that it got harder and harder to make any other decision throughout the day. Judges were most likely to release the prisoners they saw first thing in the morning and right after lunch. The less energy a judge had, the more tired they became, the harder it was to choose. Their decision fatigue came not from the number of options for each case but the number of times they had to choose.

500

Choice: 500

Decision Fatigue: Are There Benefits to Limiting Choice?

What could be better than limitless choice? The freedom to do what you want, when you want, is exhilarating. Isn’t it? Maybe not. Over the past decade, a number of scientists have investigated whether people are happier when they have only a limited number of alternatives.

Is choice overload a real concern? The simplicity movement says yes. Science says maybe. In certain situations, it seems clear that having too many options can make it difficult to make a choice. However, at other times people benefit from having a larger number of options. What makes the difference may be whether there are real advantages to one choice over another – and whether there is enough information to make the decision.

Many people are familiar with an experience colloquially known as option paralysis. While it might be easy to choose between Italian and Thai food for dinner, faced with a larger menu of choices, it becomes impossible to pick the best one. The notion that too many choices can make people anxious was popularized in 2004, by the psychologist Barry Schwartz. He believed that people only think having unlimited freedom to choose will make them happier. It seemed to him that having too many choices just made them cranky.

Having to make decisions can be exhausting, in and of itself. In 2011, a group of Israeli scientists published a study looking at whether factors other than guilt might affect a judge’s willingness to allow a prisoner out on parole. They found that the answer might just be yes.

The notion that too much choice could

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Americans value individual preferences and expression so highly that it’s hard to imagine that having more options could be a bad thing. To an extent that’s probably true. With a wider variety of products available, there’s a better chance that people will be able to find exactly what they want. However, what happens when that perfect choice doesn’t exist? When you can’t find the ideal option, but still need to make a choice, it may be easier to pick from a menu of ten alternatives than to weed through a list of thousands. - E LIZ ABETH BO SKEY


Life: 1000

Accepting Limits at the End of Life

This seeming disconnect can probably be explained by the fact that even well educated adults may not understand the difference between comfort and life-extending care. They may also lack an accurate perception of what it is like to live with dementia or extreme pain. Counseling and education about these issues can be enlightening. In one study, before viewing a video of what it is like to live with advanced dementia, almost a quarter of the participants said they would want life-extending treatment. After viewing, none of them did.

In my early thirties, I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. Although people stare at me when I say this, it wasn’t that big a deal. The cancer was small and contained. It was caught early. I was treated with surgery, and that was it.

1,000

To many people, one of the things that makes the American healthcare system wonderful is the fact that they can buy all the care they can afford. As long as the money holds out, it is rare for doctors to tell patients to stop trying for a cure, a treatment, or another few days. Instead, our medical philosophy seems to be “do the next thing.” Doctors will try anything they can to prolong a life, even at the expense of its quality – at least for their patients.

I am a cancer survivor.

extending care, and a solid majority wanted to die at home. However, when asked about specific life-extending interventions, they said they preferred them to death. Fewer than half said they would rather die than live out their lives in a great deal of pain or in a state of constant confusion.

They seem to know better for themselves. A few months ago, a Wall Street Journal article titled, “Why Doctors Die Differently,” brought this issue to the attention of the public. Doctors make different decisions for themselves than the average patient does. They are less likely to seek out interventions that will prolong their lifespan at the expense of quality of life. They are more likely to have their thoughts about extreme measures written out in advance. So why don’t more patients make the decision to forgo care when it is likely to extend, but not improve, their lives? There are a number of reasons. They may be under pressure from desperate family members who would do anything to keep them for another day. They may not have been accurately informed about how a treatment will affect their health. They may be so afraid of death that even extreme discomfort seems to be the better choice.

As a society, Americans are not comfortable with the notion of death. We are reluctant to embrace the idea that, at least for now, life has limits. This makes it difficult for some people to even discuss the notion of stopping care. It’s easier to simply let doctors make the decisions, and do what they want. That’s not just true for end-of-life decisions. In a national survey of American adults, almost everyone wanted to hear their medical options, but more than half preferred to leave final decisions in a doctor’s hands. One of the few studies to look at endof-life directives in healthy adults, the Framingham Heart Study, found that many of the elderly had conflicting thoughts about end-of-life care. In general, most adults said they would prefer comfort care to life-

Unfortunately, the highly inflammatory political rhetoric around President Obama’s health care bill has made such counseling harder to get. The original bill, as proposed, would have allowed doctors to be reimbursed for providing regular, voluntary counseling to their elderly patients about end-of-life issues. However, after Sarah Palin and other conservative pundits started characterizing such counseling as government mandated “death panels,” the idea was quickly derailed. The irony is that where Palin implied the government wanted to decide who was worthy to live and die, the legislation was actually designed to help Medicare patients make more informed decisions about their own life and death. It wouldn’t have harmed anyone. It would have increased patient awareness of advanced directives and the benefits of living wills by motivating doctors to provide the counseling they needed. One of the tragedies of the American healthcare system is that patients can buy all the care they can afford. Unfortunately, unlimited care does not necessarily provide unlimited benefits. The problem is, without better information, how are people supposed to figure out when, and if, they’re ready to stop? - E LIZ ABE TH BOSKE Y

It almost wasn’t. My endocrinologist wanted me to have radioactive iodine therapy after my cancer surgery was complete. I didn’t think it was necessary. That was an educated decision. Not only had I done extensive research on my own, I’d also talked to one of the top experts in the field, who agreed that radiation therapy was unnecessary. Although the risk of side effects was relatively low, it was also unlikely to be of real benefit. Therefore, I refused the treatment. According to U.S. law, patients have the right to refuse medical care. My endocrinologist disagreed. She argued with me and insulted me and eventually fired me as her patient. If I was unwilling to go along with the standard treatment, she was unwilling to be my doctor. Eventually, I found another endocrinologist who, while also unhappy with my decision, was at least willing to abide by my wishes. Five years, and many clear screening exams later, I am still convinced that not taking the radioactive iodine was the right choice for me. I just wish I hadn’t had to fight so hard to make it.

What is hospice? Hospice is a type of care designed to ease the suffering of terminally ill patients. It may include pain relief as well as various forms of physical, emotional, and social support for the patient and their family. Unlike many other forms of medical care, the aim is not to prolong life. Instead, hospice tries to make the end of life as comfortable as possible, so that patients can die with dignity.

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COCKTAILS Cocktail One 2 oz Absolut Boston vodka 1 oz lime juice 3/4 oz St. Germain 1/4 oz Chambord To build the drink, fill an Old Fashioned glass with crushed ice. Shake together the vodka, lemon, and St. Germain for 10 seconds and pour into the Old Fashioned over the ice. It still looks virginal, as if you were just having a bit of soda water on ice, but to make sure people know how hard you worked, drizzle the Chambord down the center of the glass from a jigger, so they see the blood and love that went into the drink. Serve with a straw for stirring in the Chambord (otherwise it will eventually settle to the bottom of the glass). This plays with the original Gin Bramble, keeping the construction and proportions, but changing ingredients.

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Cocktails: designed by Meg Grady-Troia, beverage director at Journeyman restaurant in Somerville, MA. Her limits? The contents of the liquor cabinets onsite at twenty-four magazine. “Let’s now play with the limitation of what you have in front of you. I’ve assumed a really limited pantry of non-spirit ingredients, but figured a citrus fruit or two and some condiments might exist. My additional limit to myself is that none of these drinks will repeat an ingredient from your liquor cabinet.”


Cocktail Two 1 oz brandy 2 oz Cold River gin 1/2 oz lemon juice 2 dashes Scrappy’s chocolate bitters Zest an entire orange into the brandy & let it sit for about 15-20 minutes. To build the drink, run some orange juice over the rim of your cocktail glass and sugar the rim. Strain the brandy into a mixing tin and add all the ingredients but the bitters. Shake for 10 seconds, then strain into the sugared glass and top with the bitters. This is based on the Pegu Club, but takes some liberties with how you get the right flavors into the drink.

Cocktail Three 2 oz Hudson Bay bourbon 1/2 oz Frangelico 3/4 oz someone else’s coffee Rinse of Cabo Wabo Reposado tequila (only a few drops needed) To build the drink, rinse a cocktail glass with the tequila (pull a Julia Child here, and drink the dregs of the tequila while you mix your drink). In a mixing glass, combine the bourbon, Frangelico, and coffee. Fill the glass with ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into the cocktail glass and garnish with a shred of someone else’s torn-up manuscript. This one should taste sort of like any morning after: a bit smoky, a bit sweet, and more than a little bitter.

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COCKTAILS Cocktail Four 2 oz Square One vodka 3/4 oz Domaine de Canton 1 1/4 oz orange juice Dash soy sauce Toss about 1 tsp of peppercorns (or 1/2 tsp ground pepper) into the vodka and leave to steep for about 30 minutes. To build the drink, pull a chilled Old Fashioned and add 2 ice cubes. Strain the peppered vodka into a mixing tin with the rest of the ingredients, shake for 10 seconds over ice, and strain into the glass. Garnish with candied ginger or an orange twist. This is your kick-in-the-pants: like a really mean Emergen-C, it’ll take care of your sore throat, your headache, your cold (and huddled masses), and keep any other nasties at bay. Or at least, if they arrive you won’t notice.

Cocktail Five 2 oz Angostura bitters 1/2 oz Patron Anejo tequila 1 oz grapefruit juice and 2 swaths grapefruit peel 1/2 oz honey To build the drink, muddle the honey with 1 piece of grapefruit peel until it is highly fragrant in the bottom of a mixing tin. Pour in the other ingredients, and shake over ice for 15 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with grapefruit oil. I can’t help my love for bitter drinks, so this wildly inverted Salty Chihuahua, Grapefruit Margarita, or whatever else you want to call a tequila and grapefruit drink, might be my favorite.

Cocktails implemented and documented by Kevin Clark and Johanna Bobrow

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POLITICS GOP Strategy: Let’s Be Rude

Choices Back in April of this year, after Republican politicians tried to reignite the supposed conflict between working women and stayat-home mothers, Dahlia Lithwick and Jan Rodak wrote a piece for Slate entitled “The Faux Mommy Wars.”1 As a graduate of an all-women’s college and a staunch believer in the power of sisterhood, I was predisposed to agree with all of the authors’ arguments. But one sentence hit me unexpectedly hard: “For starters, ask yourself why we talk about American men using the language of ‘freedom’ and women in the language of ‘choice?’”  It had never occurred to me that the distinction was so sharp. I realized, though, that women are taught to frame all aspects of our lives in terms of choices. Will you be sexually active and a slut, or celibate and a good girl? Will you be happily self-sacrificing, or a bitch? Will you choose career, or family? Marriage, or a life of loneliness? Motherhood, or freedom? It is generally assumed that men will design their lives however they wish, whereas women are perpetually caught between a rock and a hard place. No matter how many women we know who have children and successful careers, or who enjoy being single, or who proudly take ownership of their sexuality, these dichotomies remain with us. And every decision we make can take on added weight, because we feel it will define the rest of our lives. If I take a break from my job now, I may not

ever be able to come back. If I sleep with one more person, I may be permanently branded a “slut.” If I don’t marry whomever is available right now, I may never have children. It’s an insidious way of thinking, and I hadn’t realized just how much it had penetrated my proudly feminist brain. When my current relationship started to become serious, it was the first time in my adult life that I felt pulled away from the rehearsal room just as strongly as I felt pulled towards it. I was shocked. Did that mean I didn’t want my career in theater as much as I’d always thought I did? Was I giving up on my work? I didn’t know what I would do with my life, if that were the case. And more importantly, I didn’t know who I would be. For years, my first two self-identifiers had been “feminist” and “director.” I couldn’t fathom either of those changing. In fact, neither of them has changed. I’m still working on balancing a personal and professional life, but that’s not a hardship—far from it! It’s just a new thing for me. What surprises me, looking back, is how quickly I assumed I was facing a choice. My first impulse was that I would have to decide between these wonderful parts of my life, rather than being able to integrate them and allow them to inform one another. - ROSE GINSBE RG 1

twentyfourmagazine.com/issue-two

Yesterday in Ohio, a Romney campaign bus drove around honking outside of an event where Obama was delivering a major speech. And today, a reporter for the Daily Caller (a Tory paper) interrupted Obama’s speech in the Rose Garden – twice. Obama was talking about enacting, by executive order, a scaleddown version of the DREAM Act that mirrors almost exactly what the GOP says it wants to do to appeal (read: suck up) to Latino voters. These childish antics are great examples of Josh Marshall’s “Bitch Slap Politics” (his term, not ours). It’s becoming increasingly clear that thuggish behavior in the media is going to be a hallmark of the GOP side throughout the election. Just how much can they disrespect the President in public? It’s not about policy, and it’s not about strength and weakness; it’s about perceived strength and weakness. Obama doesn’t do righteous anger that well, so they might be hoping he actually goes Hulk on someone, but they’re probably hoping he just stands there and takes it and looks weak and that that strategy is enough to win an election. They certainly can’t win on policy. How do we set up Obama to win this image fight without pushing our democracy into pure thuggery escalation? Hard. Fucking. Job. - KEVIN CLARK

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INTERVIEW Cindy Au, Community Manager for Kickstarter, interview with Kevin Clark

is talking to people as much as possible, able. When you’re running a Kickstarter whether it’s in person at events or whether it’s campaign, every single day is so important. online or over email. I try to make myself as And those new backer emails are just a ray available as possible, and I think that’s really of light every single day. So, if one day goes important any time you have an online by where there isn’t one, it’s completely community. Especially with Kicknatural to freak out about it. But, And then, starter, because so much of what when you look at that U-shaped of course, in we do ends up affecting people funding curve, you know that in real life in really meaning- those two years, things naturally slow down in ful ways. So, making sure that the middle, and then they pick our site has people know who we are and up again. grown a little that they can always come to bit. KC: Yeah. It’s really fascinatus with a question about what ing, seeing how using Kickstarter they’re working on, and knowing teaches people who don’t have much that we’re always going to be incredibly supof a business background everything you portive of that, is really important. need to know about running a small busi-

Kevin Clark: Thanks for making the time for doing this. Cindy Au: No problem. KC: First I wanted to ask you if you could tell us a little bit about how you came to Kickstarter and what your role there grew into. CA: Sure. So, I started at Kickstarter a little over two years ago. And I was one of their early community team members. Back then, there were just three or four of us, I think, when I first started. We were kind of just handling everything that connected to community. That was answering support tickets and talking to people over email, looking at all the projects coming in, and trying to basically help people as much as we could.

KC: Do you wind up mixing technological, quantitative tools with the qualitative tools, for instance talking to people, to get a feel for what they’re doing? CA: I don’t do much of that. [LAUGHS] We actually just started doing a little more research with data. And that’s been part of a bigger initiative that we’re thinking about in this next year, to really look at some of the numbers. We’ve done a couple of big data posts, kind of connecting people with some of what we’ve seen about how people are using Kickstarter.

And then, of course, in those two years, our site has grown a little bit. [LAUGHTER] So, we’ve expanded quite a bit, and I’m now the director of community and helping manage the team that handles all our support and all the other many things that we do. KC: That’s sort of a job that doesn’t exist outside of the tech world. My day job is at an arts nonprofit, and it’s becoming more and more important to us to understand what it is to manage a community. Can you talk a little bit about what that actually means?

I think everyone’s interested in seeing how different communities are using Kickstarter and how much traction is being built within each of those communities. KC: I dearly love your data posts. That’s the mode gift. That’s the mean gift. This is how these structures work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve drawn this curve: you get a peak at the beginning, and then a trough, and then a peak at the end.

CA: Yeah, like you said, it’s kind of a strange new world. Our community exists on so many levels. We have users of Kickstarter, but within that we have the people who are actually creating the projects; we have all the people who are backing projects; and then we have people who are just observing and fascinated by what’s been happening on Kickstarter. And I think of everyone, in that sense, as a part of our community.

CA: Yeah, yeah. And I think those things are really important for people to see, because one of the common things that I often have to help people with during a project campaign is they send me an email saying, “Oh my God, no one pledged today. What do I do?” [LAUGHS] And it’s completely understand-

So, to keep on top of all of that, much of it

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ness in a completely hands-on way in a month. CA: Yeah. That’s an interesting comment, because we’re a site for creative projects and for arts. And this idea of, “Oh, you’re running a business” has always been kind of strange to us, because we’re like, “Oh, that isn’t what we really expected.” But I can see the analogy and I can see how those skills, like being able to talk about what you’re making or what you’re creating, and being able to manage all of the things that go around that, those are kind of important life skills, in addition to being important skills to run a Kickstarter project. KC: I also wanted to ask you how the community has changed and grown from the early days, when there were enough people that you could just call them all up on the phone, to today when there are enough people that you actually have to analyze it with aggregate data. CA: There are just so many more people than there were before. And the really exciting thing that I’ve seen is people within each of their own creative communities have really done a lot of amazing things on their own to build up a knowledge base about Kickstarter. So, if you’re someone in music, and you want to run a Kickstarter project, you can just go


to Twitter and say, “Hey, guys, what do you think? Should I try this? What’s the best way to go about this?” And you’ll see that tons of people reply. A lot of people have had exposure to projects now, either because they’re run one or they’ve backed one. And they have really great feedback for people. And I see this happening more and more. And it’s fantastic, because people are smart. They know what works. They know what doesn’t. Backers especially are very, very observant. And they give really great advice. So, more and more, we’re actually seeing the community participate in the actual creation of a Kickstarter project, even before it’s ever been launched. We’ve seen this with games, especially, because the game community has this very intense forum culture. So game developers say, “I’m going to ask everyone before I even put this thing together. What rewards should I offer? How much should I price them at? What do you guys want?” And I think that development is really fantastic. KC: It’s been really interesting to watch the change of content coming from Kickstarter. Early on it was a mix that was mostly how-to posts, training people about this new thing. And now it mostly highlights the awesome stuff that’s on the site. CA: Yeah. I’m glad you pointed that out. For that first year after I started, any time I mentioned Kickstarter, people said, “What is that? [LAUGHS] And how do you do it?” And now, I feel like we’re past the point of having to explain to everyone what Kickstarter is. We get to just spend most of our time highlighting amazing projects. KC: How does the filter work, going from your knowledge of the community and your contact with the community, back into the technical side? How does your work impact the user interaction design and development of features? CA: Right now, Kickstarter is, I think, just under 40 people. We’re still at a nice size where almost any conversation relating to a

product or a feature can very easily be communicated to a developer who would possibly end up building it. And that flow of information is important.

And I think you can flip back and forth between those, or you can combine them. I think having more of those options out there is good and healthy for the creative economy.

I’m not a developer, but I definitely hear what people are thinking about. I see how they react to things on Kickstarter. And we spend a lot of time listening and making sure that, when we see something bubble up repeatedly, that gets prioritized and moved to the top of the list for what we want to do.

People always say, “Oh, what if someone super famous uses Kickstarter?” And, from our perspective, that’s not really that important. It doesn’t really matter how—you know, if a million people know who you are but don’t really care about what you do, it really doesn’t matter. And ultimately, it is about: how much does the audience care about the thing that you’re actually making? And that’s proven true for every Kickstarter project.

KC: Next, I want to talk about broader issues, because we’re getting used to thinking about the new creative economy wiping away the old creative economy. Now we can do whatever we want. And I’m wondering what you think are the limits of that. Where do you see the barriers on the road in front of us?

KC: We’re talking to the “Indie Game: The Movie” people in about 20 minutes.

CA: That’s awesome. I love Lisanne [Pajot] and James [Swirsky]. They’re fantastic people. I actually met them very early on in my life CA: Right. That’s a really big question. I think at Kickstarter. And I remember thinking, you every creative avenue has its own specific know, when you encounter someone through types of barriers. Depending on the type of a project for the first time—or at least for me, industry that you’re in, you’re going to run I get a little starstruck. [LAUGHTER] I think into different kinds. And I like the to myself, “Wow, these are literally the sentiment out there that evecoolest people in the world.” And For that rything is changing and we I’ll meet them in real life and first year after can do whatever we want. always be just so amazed when I started, any time they’re nice and humble and But I also think that in I mentioned reality there are still injust very real people. Kickstarter, people stitutions and rules and Creators like Lisanne and barriers and things that said, “What is that? James are a perfect reminder And how do you get in the way. of why Kickstarter exists. These

do it?” What I think is important are two people who had a movie about something like Kickthat they wanted to make their own starter is that this is a way of starting way, and there’s no way that they could have to investigate an alternative. It doesn’t mean done it without the help and support of the that we have to think of Kickstarter as a refilm community and the game community. placement for anything. It’s more about offerAnd seeing them kind of go through this very ing everyone more choice and letting people long process that was not, by any means the decide, “Do I want to try it this the traditional easiest, and then find so much success, has way, because that’s how I’ve always done it been hugely rewarding for everyone involved and it’s always worked for me? Or do I want and all the backers. I feel ridiculously proud to try it this other way, because I’m interested of them. in seeing what the community thinks and KC: I’m actually ashamed to say I haven’t working with people from the very beginseen the movie yet. My own gaming is ning?” mostly held back by the fact that I have tw e nty- four magazin e • page


INTERVIEW tendinitis in my wrists. Holding a controller is possibly the worst thing I can do, apart from playing the piano. CA: Yeah. Yeah. So, you’re a pianist? KC: I’m a composer, actually. CA: That’s cool. A long time ago, I wanted to be a music composition person. [LAUGHS] This is, like, right when I graduated from high school, and I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, because I’m 16.” And I really wanted to compose music. But it turns out I wasn’t very good at it, so. [LAUGHS] But, actually, our support manager is a composer. Our community team is a hodgepodge of musicians and filmmakers and writers. It’s fun. KC: Yeah. There is one other question I wanted to talk about. One of the things that I think a lot of people wonder about Kickstarter is that it can be seen as privileging the privileged. If you have those connections already, it makes it a lot easier to find what looks like success, even if your parents would have given you the money anyway. How does that come into your daily life? CA: I’ve seen people say things like that, where they look at a successful project and they’ll say, “Hey, that’s not fair. That person already has this many Twitter followers or this many Facebook fans,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But the reality of it is nobody thinks about their friends and family and people that they know in the world as social capital. A project is really just about rallying the people who care about you and care about what you’re doing into one place. The successful projects that we see happen every day are because of the fact that people running these projects do have these networks, and they don’t have to be huge. It’s not about gigantic Twitter followings. It’s about being someone who has friends and family and people that care. When you go and put the effort into making a project that resonates with other people,

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that ends up being the most important thing. A lot of people actually end up developing larger followings because of the project. It really is not about fame, and it’s not even that the most gregarious person out there gets the most backers and pledges. That’s definitely not true. We’ve got lots of people who are camera-shy and maybe not the best at being out in public, but the very act of just putting it out there is really great at inspiring people to take action and do something about it. KC: Kickstarter is a place where you can raise money by talking to people. But also, it’s a great place to talk to people by asking for money. CA: Right. And not even just asking for money, but just asking for support and encouragement, right? I’m a huge fan of the $1 pledge. [LAUGHS] I don’t know if everyone else is. Part of this is very practical, because I back hundreds of projects. And, if I backed them all for $10-15, I’d quickly burn through my paychecks. But to me, the $1 pledge is like reaching out and high-fiving someone, just saying, “I don’t know who you are, but you are doing something cool, and you seem like a cool person.” And oftentimes that’s where I start. And, by the end of the project, I’m so in love that I have to bump up, you know? It’s this relationship that you form over this project. And yeah, you’re right; it becomes this vehicle for conversation and for meeting people. And it’s much more than fundraising. KC: Okay. So, I guess we should probably let you get back to your life. CA: All right. Okay. Thanks a lot.

Meta The great limit on any writing is the fact that you’re asked to write what you know. But if you’re a writer, even if in a previous life you were a fisherman, a riverboat captain, or an emperor, what you know the most is writing. So you end up writing about writing. And the only people who want to read about writing are writers. So writers write about writing for writers who ask other writers how to become a writer and who, for some reason, are unsatisfied with the answer, “you write.” You write, and you write, and you write, because every writer has one hundred thousand bad words in them, and, apparently, for me, thirty percent of my bad words are “write,” “writer,” and “writing.” Writing, in the end, is about the writer, no matter how hard he or she tries to make it about anything else. Sure, great writing is about people, but it’s always people as seen through the eyes of the writer, who only has two eyes. At most. I can’t think of any one-eyed writers off the top of my head, and polling the room for a cyclopean author only got me penis jokes. So writers can create all of the compelling characters, driving plots, and complicated worlds that they want, but still it will be a world seen only through their eyes, and in the end, no matter what they’re writing about, they’re really writing about the art of telling the story they are telling, a snake eating its own tail, forever.

KC: Thank you very, very, very much. Fortunately, it’s a fucking awesome snake. - Ste en paDn iCK


INTERACTIVE GAMES For FigmentNYC (an annual interactive arts festival that takes place on Governors Island) I designed Tapestry, a community story sharing game. I’ve been designing games for nearly three years now as Casework Productions. What I like to explore with my games are liminal spaces; environments that allow players to experience things that would be difficult to access outside of the environment of the game. My games focus on community, interaction, and personal experiences. The way that I start making a game is by looking at what I want the player experience to be. In the case of Tapestry, what I was looking at was the ideas of gratitude and connection. The game is still in the research and development stage, and I expect it to continue to morph and change as I run it in different contexts with different people, but what I see as the core mechanics have remained unchanged since I first started designing it. You ask a person for a story. You listen to and then thank them for their story. You condense their story into some creative and

restrictive format- a comic strip, a haiku, a graph, a picture. Then you post the story art somewhere communal. As simple as that premise sounds, it creates a space for people to quickly and easily share important stories and build connections that typically you would not be able to form with strangers in a park. The things I am most proud of about Tapestry are two-fold- the fact that players have to listen carefully and attentively to one another and then that they have to actively digest and process that information in order to create a small, precise piece of art. I chose these proscribed forms on purpose. It was important to me to have Tapestry be as accessible and welcoming as possible. If something is technically tricky, but still accomplishable, there seems to be a lifting of judgment. The limited structure of Haiku means that fitting a long story into 17 syllables is a feat in of itself, so who cares how much sense it makes? There is clarity and a flowering of creativity in brevity and the need to be concise.

The number of rules and the small space in which you can use them means that you have to consider carefully and figure out what the important part is. What was the underlying story? And here’s the really cool part: that means that you are connecting. You, the player collecting the story and you, the player sharing the story. You’re actually connecting. And then, THEN, there is evidence of your connection. My games are lo-fi and pervasive. They happen in tangible spaces with tangible things- 4 kilometers of plastic wrap, 13,000 stickers, or 25lbs of paper. I make games like this because I like playing them. Because as a group of players you end up making art. When the games are site specific it means that you then always encounter that space in a different way—that tree isn’t just a tree, it was where you and 500 other people created a new piece of art. - CaSey miDDaugH

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INTERVIEW S

p

Danskin

B

J

weeks. LISANNE PAJOT: And then we jumped right into digital.

i

JS: Yes.

Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky of BlinkWorks have become well-known in the independent gaming scene, which is interesting because they’re filmmakers. After doing a forhire short on indie developer Alec Holowka for New Media Manitoba, they ran a Kickstarter pitching a feature documentary about independent game developers. Two years and an atypical development cycle later, Indie Game: The Movie has been released, and to fairly broad acclaim; Roger Ebert, who stirred up the community by claiming games could never be art, called the movie “fascinating” (on Facebook).

LP: Usually films would probably run in theaters a bit longer, and they may not do digital until later. But we just really felt like we needed to get the film out there. There’re just so many people that supported Indie Game: The Movie. We felt it was important to share it with everybody as fast as we could. We were able to get the film out from premiering at Sundance in less than six months, which is, I think, pretty cool, because not a lot of films are able to do that. So, we’ve been running on the treadmill, and now it’s finally out. [LAUGHTER]

I first met James and Lisanne at PAX East in Boston in 2011, where they were filming one of the film’s subjects—I’ve been told I may be in the background in one of the shots, but after 3 viewings I still cannot verify this. When the film toured the country in 2012, I met them again at a bar in Cambridge following the show, and was flabbergasted that they remembered who I was. For this interview, we talked about the unique production of the film, which was not made the way films are usually made. We don’t discuss the film’s contents much, so I don’t mind telling you: I’m a fan. The film was released digitally on June 12th, 3 days before this interview.

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JS: Yeah, we were kind of born on Kickstarter, like back in the day, actually, before Kickstarter was really Kickstarter. LP: Old-school Kickstarter. JS: Yeah, pre-Tim Schafer.*

JS: Yeah, yeah. Tuesday.

JS: [LAUGHTER] Yeah. We used Kickstarter [in the original sense] of the word, where we did our first campaign with the goal of $15,000, which is not a lot of money to make a movie. It’s a lot of money, to be sure, but it’s not a lot of money to make a movie over the next two years. And so we used it as seed money to help get the ball rolling.

JS: You know, pretty good. People seem to be reacting to it in ways that, you know, we dream about. We’re super happy with it. LP: We tried to think about the way that we like to consume media online. And as soon as I hear about a film or a book or a game, I want to be able to find it and buy it really quickly. I don’t want to wait. And so, we launched the film on iTunes, which is really, really cool, to be on iTunes. It’s like being in theaters, because it’s, you know, the big platform for films. We launched on Steam, and Steam is one of the biggest gaming platforms in the world—we’re the first feature film to be on there, which I think is pretty interesting. And then we also made the film available on our website, and in multiple different languages. And you can download it, you can stream it, and it’s all DRM-free. So, if you want to put it on a thumb drive and play it on your television, you can.

JAMES SWIRSKY: Yeah, yeah. We did a screening tour that lasted about—what was it?—four or five weeks, something like that. And then we actually opened in New York and L.A., San Francisco, and a few other cities, and did a run for about three or four

ID: Well, not a lot of people funded their movie the way you did, either. Is that correct?

ID: [LAUGHTER] It just launched this week, right?

ID: How is it selling so far?

IAN DANSKIN: Your film, Indie Game: The Movie, just released, but not in the traditional sense of released. Most movies release in the theaters, but your release was after the theater.

We just tried to make it as easy as possible. It was kind of hard to get this all set up for the same day, getting all these moving parts together. And it seems that people appreciate it, and that’s so good to hear, because it wasn’t easy, and not a lot of people have done this sort of release before. And it’s just good to hear that people like the movie, which is awesome, but they also are excited by the different ways that we make it available.

ID: Before it was cool.

And then we ended up having a second Kickstarter a little later on that also did very, very well. We asked for $35,000 for postproduction costs. And we kind of structured it as a preorder system. And I think, because of that, and because [we now had] the trailer, we got our goal in, like, 25 hours, and then it kind of kept on going. It was $51,000 by the time we were done. [We also relied on] a lot of our own personal funds. We had a declining bank account that got to anemic levels. ID: And you also did presales, right? JS: Yeah. LP: Yeah. Yeah. Because some people missed

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the Kickstarter or they didn’t want to go through Amazon payments. So we ended up putting preorders on the site. Seriously, that kind of support throughout—cash flow is a bit of a problem when you are making a film, especially [since the money] we raised from Kickstarter is only about 40 percent of what we spent. So, having the sort of trickle of people that are interested and purchased it propelled us forward. And we learned [about preorders] through independent games like Cortex Command and Overgrowth**. We tried to put out as much content as we could as we were shooting. We’d go back to the hotel and think, “Okay, this will be in the film, but this won’t be in the film. Let’s cut something really quickly and put it up online, so that we can share something.” And that ended up being about 80 minutes’ worth of content throughout the film. ID: So was there any worry that using this presale method meant that, once the movie was released, most of the people who wanted to see it would have already paid for it? That there just wouldn’t be that much left that you were going to generate? LP: Yeah! [LAUGHTER] Yeah, we weren’t sure if the people that preordered were, you know, all the people that would ever be interested in the film or not. But, at the same time, it’s kind of empowering to know that you have all these people that are willing to pay for your film and support you, even though it’s not out. That gave us some confidence. We wouldn’t have made the project had we not had that support. We probably would made up excuses to ourselves, like, “Oh, it’s probably not a good idea,” or, “Oh, you know, we can’t take time away from our regular work to do it.” But [that support] propelled us forward. JS: Yeah, even more so than the money. The fact that people were giving us dollars for

something that didn’t even exist yet, based on the promise of something, gave us this wonderful confidence that, yes, there’s a movie here; yes, there’s a product here. But you do have a little worry that, oh my gosh, do we already have our core base and it won’t expand beyond that on launch day?

they can create—were available. JS: It’s a weird perfect storm of empowering technology. Like, at every stage of preproduction, production, postproduction, we seemed to be making this movie at a time where real important things were happening. You got crowdsourcing; you have this really empowering, affordable technology; and then the distribution channels are opening up in ways that they weren’t available five years ago.

But then the opposite thinking of that is you have this core base. And, if you make the movie that they really like, they’ve already proven they’re passionate about it. It’s just really an exciting time to be a Then they’ll share it. Or they’re creator. Whether it be filmmaking just a subset of a larger audi“I don’t think or game-making or, you know, ence—hopefully, anyway, there’s an artist music. We’re watching the because not many people or creator out there rules be rewritten right now. preorder things. Like, that that creates without And then they’re being written is common and is getting constraints.” on top of that. It’s changing so more common, but not fast. It’s going to be scary to —Lisanne Pajot many people plunk down see where we are in another two, money to see a movie two years three years. Like, Kickstarter is just in advance. [LAUGHTER] You know, a strange, weird juggernaut that just keeps that’s a special type of person. And you’ve got on evolving and getting bigger, and it’s going to think, if those special types of people exist to change, and other things are going to come in those numbers, then there are people like and compete with it, or augment it, or whatthem that just don’t hit that preorder threshever. old. So, we were kind of hoping on that. And, And yeah, I’m really excited to see what we yeah, it’s working out. can do with project number two, because ID: It sounds like the wager paid off, yeah. we’ve learned a lot on this, using a lot of inter[LAUGHTER] Between the cheapening of esting tools and techniques. And I would love the technology and both the new distributo take what we learned and apply it to new tion and funding models, could you have stuff or perfect it—well, you can never perfect made this movie this way even, like, five it, but to, yeah, just kind of build on it. years ago? ID: It’s curious. Not too many people—or, LP: [PAUSE] No. probably, for film, almost no one—had done JS: I don’t think so. exactly what you did. And I’m wondering how much the novelty aided you, or if the ID: Short answer: no. fact that it’s been done once is just going to LP: [LAUGHTER] No, again, we’re just really draw more attention to the next one. fortunate that our skill set got good enough at LP: The first Kickstarter that we did, there this time. We’d been making films and videos was a lot of novelty to it. You know, we got and working in television for 10 years, but in the local paper. Now, if someone did a we’d worked [our skills] to a point that we Kickstarter, no one would be like, “Oh, great.” could do it. And the fact that the technolBut, two years ago, people were like, “Whoa, ogy—HD-DSLRs and the sort of image that

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INTERVIEW this is crazy. We’re going to put you in the local paper.” I think our parents clipped that. [LAUGHTER] They did. And that’s a big achievement. And we laugh about it, but it was at the time. It was a big achievement. So, I think things will change a bit. But I think the idea of being an artist and creating what you want, but also keeping in mind your audience and welcoming them into the process, I think, is something that will grow, whether the technology changes or not. ID: So, funding it this way, and shooting it the way you did, you’ve been in control of the film pretty much for its entire lifecycle. JS: Mm-hmm. LP: Yes. [LAUGHTER] JS: It’s great. It’s a blessing and a curse.

a bad thing. Actually, it probably honed our focus, having that constraint there. We kind of always knew that we wanted to make a movie in a more modest way, just because that’s the way we operate, really. We’re comfortable working as a two-person team. We’re a small crew. And [bringing on extra crewmembers] kind of scares me thinking about it. If we did have another two, three people on set when doing interviews, what that would have felt like? Because we get very honest reactions and very intimate moments with these guys. And, had the crew been bigger, I think it could have definitely been different.

“It’s just really an exciting time to be a creator.”

—James

LP: It’s like a baby. JS: Yeah.

But, yeah, in terms of things that we had to say no to, we did toy with going to Europe. Swirsky And it was one of those things where we looked at the budget and— LP: And we also looked at our time.

LP: It’s like it’s always there.

JS: And our time, yeah, timeline.

ID: It is exactly like a baby.

LP: And we were worried [about incorporating] all this stuff into a film that we felt was already starting to grow. It was definitely an economic choice, but it was also a storytelling choice. And yeah, I don’t think that there’s any artist or creator out there that creates without constraints. I think there’s always something, whether it’s artificial or whether it’s real. In our case, it was a real constraint. [LAUGHTER] And I think it helps you create.

LP: You can’t go to sleep. You have to keep at it. You know, when it’s rendering, you’ve got to make sure it doesn’t screw up. You’ve got to read all the support emails and make sure—like, it doesn’t end. You’re raising this thing up, and now it’s all out there. And it’s gone to school. And it’s like, “Ah, I don’t want anyone to insult it,” or— JS: Or be mean to it. LP: Or kick it in the playground. You just want it to be safe. You want it to be this beautiful thing that you made. ID: Were there any things that you couldn’t do because of the way you were doing it? I know you mentioned you didn’t get to go to Europe… JS: Yeah. I think our budget probably dictated our focus a little bit. But I’m not too sure that’s

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JS: Yeah. I think one of the strange things about being crowdfunded, versus having a more traditional model, is that it creates this expectation, like this built-in expectation, of an audience. It actually keeps you on the ball and makes you want to get this thing out there as quickly as possible, because you have X number of people who have already given you money, and they’re real people, and you have a dialogue with them, and you’re talking

with them. And, if you don’t do it, they’ll be disappointed. And we value that. That’s something that’s really important to us. Had we had a more traditional funding thing, where deadlines and schedules weren’t as audience-crucial, this movie may have been coming out a little bit later. We may have waited until the end of 2012 or 2013. But we’ve had that dialogue with them for now two years—and two years on the internet is a long time, so it’s weird. No one pays attention to anything on the internet for two years. But that’s crazy, actually. LP: Yeah. JS: Can you name one thing that you’ve been watching over the internet for two years? Even my sites change over two years. So there’s this kind of pressure, but it’s also an incentive. And sometimes it can be bad; sometimes it can be good. But it definitely helped get the movie done quicker. And I think, for this movie, in this case, it was a good thing. ID: I assume you’re probably going to use a similar model for your next project, whatever it ends up being. JS: Yeah. I like the independence a lot. I like being in control of the project and having a direct line to the audience, because that makes you engage with the film so much more. Like, this film is important to us in such a way, because it takes over your life. And, when you’re funding and making a film this way, it has to take over your life. Like, there’s no way around it. And, if we went through a more traditional route, I don’t know if we’d be as invested. Well, I’m sure we’d be invested and put all our heart and soul into it, but it would be a little bit different. Yeah, it would be—I don’t know. Yeah, so, you got me. Long story short, definitely, I think it’s a smart move all around to kind of engage the audience early and often, and try and have as much control throughout


the entire process as possible, because we went into the whole distribution thing thinking that we know how to sell this movie, or we know what this movie is and where the audience is for it. And we think we know how to do it best or how to give it the best chance that we possibly can. LP: I think the one thing that we learned is we did take on a lot. We’re two people, and not only did we shoot, edit, direct, produce, but we also are distributing and [doing everything] from scanning people at the door on a tour that we set up ourselves to replying to support emails to the website. JS: Shipping t-shirts. [LAUGHTER] LP: Shipping t-shirts. I just think we bit off a little bit more than we could chew. And I think, [LAUGHTER] yeah, in the next project, we’ll have more people involved and we’ll know where we need people earlier on, as opposed to, last-minute, being like, “Dammit, how am I supposed to ship all these t-shirts, answer these emails, and do an interview at the same time?” You know? ID: [LAUGHTER] Yeah. LP: I think that is the lesson. We want the control, but I think we just need a few more people to help us. JS: Yeah. [LAUGHTER] Yeah. You can learn more about James’ and Lisanne’s film at indiegamethemovie.com *Game developer Tim Schafer broke all Kickstarter records when his $400,000 Kickstarter made $3.3 million. Several multi-million dollar game projects have been Kickstarted since. **Indie games that sell alphaware, or early, playable builds of unfinished games that are regularly updated for customers.

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ARTIST PROFILE:

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keep trying to ask John Reid about his work. His process, how he got into balloon art, what he likes about it. And he does answer those questions, but what really gets him talking is his family: his Granny and his eight year-old goddaughter. John is currently building a dress in the back room of the apartment we are all busily working away in. The squeak and squack of the balloons twisting together forming this dress is loud enough that when he answers my questions, he has to pause working so that I can hear him. The dress is blue and currently the bust is flying up into the air like an enthusiastic fountain. I’ve been thinking and writing today about how I think that art should be made with the medium that best expresses what the artist is trying to express, and that we should stay away from novelty for the sake of novelty. But balloons are found a carnivals and children’s birthday parties. They are novelty. They are balloons. I ask John about that. He figures they’re art because balloon sculptures sure aren’t a science, and eventually he lets it slip that he won the 2010 balloon twisting championship, “Twist-n-Shout,” held in Chicago for balloon twisters from around the US and the world every year. But his goddaughter keeps peppering his conversation and so does his Granny. Choice Granny quotes include, “Whatever you do, just be the best at it.” He figures she didn’t quite mean, “Be a balloon artist and a magician,” but I think she might have.

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She lives in Jersey and he sees her every couple of months. She told him, growing up, “The beauty is in the details,” and that’s what he focuses on in his sculptures. The details are the fun part; “they’re what changes a blob into a face.” He shows me pictures of a 14’ tall sculpture of Voltron, Defender of the Universe. Loved by Good, feared by Evil. He shows me pictures of his life-sized Delorean sculpture. He tells me about how he started making balloon dresses (most recently worn by Amanda Palmer at her Kickstarter celebration party in June.) When John’s goddaughter was small, maybe 5 years old, she tripped and scraped her face up. She was bawling, talking about how she would never be pretty. John needed to find some way to make her feel special and good again. He built her a dress in her favorite colors and left it standing on her bed. The family was at a magic convention in the Rocky Mountains and when she put on the dress she was transformed, prancing around the hotel and stopping traffic as people asked to take pictures with her. She’d totally forgotten about her face. That’s the thing about John’s work: he’s not creating a dress or a sculpture that will last. The medium of balloons necessarily means that what he builds will be ephemeral. The air will leave and the structure will deflate. What John makes is a moment that you won’t be able to create again. Seems like art to me. - CA S EY MID DA U G H


john reid

tw e nty- four magazin e • page 35


Artist Profile: elizabeth cherry Elizabeth Cherry’s hats are charming. Her designs for Lizzie Anne Millinery straddle historical patterns, bridal wear, and burlesque. (She says she realized one day that pasties are just little hats, and now makes matching sets to go with her cocktail hats.) She’s lovely, by the way. We met her last week at the Figment NYC interactive arts festival on Governor’s Island where I was premiering my story sharing game, Tapestry. She had a garden of crocheted flowers made out of yarn she’d spun from discarded plastic shopping bags. They were bewitching and actually gorgeous: this little plot of quiet, ecological peace in the midst of a counter cultural festival of neon body paint and human-sized gerbil wheels. She looked up when I walked by and said hello. We were both happy to meet other friendly artists on the island, and when it turned out that the ferry back to Manhattan would take another hour, she stayed with the crew for Tapestry and found herself invited both to lunch and to twenty-four magazine for a photo shoot.

Elizabeth arrives at twenty-four magazine at mid-morning. We decide to shoot at Greenwood Cemetery and it is swelteringly hot. We are playing with the contrast between Johanna’s blue hair adorned with a lurching skeleton hat and Tania’s wild curls topped by a bridal fascinator. Elizabeth is wearing a light cloche hat that perfectly fits her. I mean that in the sense that she looks right wearing this delight of a hat, complete with lace trim and small yellow roses. She’s sunny in the best possible way. I ask her whether she considers herself an artist or a craftsman. She kindly puts me in my place and says that she prefers the term ‘artisan.’ It makes sense: these hats take skill and (in the case of handling steaming hot felt) courage. She likes her hats to grow organically from the materials she is using to trim them. I learn that you need to be careful not to over-handle the decoration, lest it end up looking studied and over designed. That’s not what she’s going for with her hats. We talk about the “breathless moment at the beginning of terror” that exists at the beginning of a new project, the certainty that you can in fact do this, though you’re not 100% certain quite how yet.

She recently made a reproduction for the understudy of a traveling show. The lead’s hat had been made in Canada and Elizabeth was not certain she’d be able to appropriately match the original trimmings used. So she made them herself. This extensive hand work was laborious, but she enjoyed the puzzle of figuring out how to reproduce something already in existence. The lack of creative wiggle room reminds her of logic puzzles from her childhood. In the end the hat she make for the understudy looks better than the original.

- casey middaugh - johanna bobrow

tw e nty- four magazin e • page 37


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The staff of twenty-four magazine has an almost absurdly diverse creative background. We are scientists, poets, illustrators, composers, musicians, editors, game designers, actors, sex educators, balloon artists, video editors, and more. It just keeps going. Given this plethora of creative endeavors it seemed like an excellent opportunity to exploit each other’s talents and make something together. Hence, The Transmedia Chain. The concept is simple—starting with a short phrase from Kevin ‘s Tempest piece, each contributor made a piece of art based on the piece before, changing art forms each time. Kevin’s sheet music led to Johanna’s picture of her violin. That photograph then inspired Jack’s short story. The story was passed on to Steven, who wrote a poem. Pablo took that poem and made a drawing. The drawing was displayed on my computer while John made a balloon sculpture. Tania examined the sculpture and wrote a multiple choice question. Kevin came back and wrote a violin piece that then was torn to pieces and used in Meg’s cocktail. There. The Transmedia Chain. Wending its way through our art forms. Your turn.

tw e nty- four magazin e • page

1


TRANSMEDIA CHAIN die blaue Geige

Blue waves crash fold envelope me grab me take me

He rolled his eyes. A blue violin? Really? His own instrument was, of course, a Guarneri. Well, not his, actually, but a loan from an institution. Still, he’d been selected to play the instrument and it was an honor as prestigious as it was distinguished. Dragging his bow across the fine strings he reached out through the ages and took his place among artists of a more refined time. As each of them prepared backstage he tried not to look at her at all. A nose ring? Purple hair? Her style of dress was less foreign than it was alien, and he tried hide his disdain. And what would she play? A selection of Enya-inspired pablum? Perhaps variations on her favorite video game theme song? He chuckled at the thought. As if reading his mind she turned with a look in her eye that made him almost drop the bow he was rubbing down with rosin. “You’re attempting the Ysaÿe? Bold,” she said in soft but confident voice. “Oh, yes, it can be challenging, I suppose,” he said, hardly looking at her. “Yes, people have said the same thing about my solo. Though not everyone is familiar with Zoe Keating” she replied nonchalantly. He allowed an eyebrow to raise, but only for a moment. He looked down at her violin again and sighed. “It has integrated pickups that are sent to my laptop. I can amplify the sound, modulate it, add a thousand different effects,” she said, a bit giddy as she polished the electric blue. “I’m sure it’s all very exciting,” he said in a bored monotone. She sighed this time and put her instrument back in her case.

twen ty-f o u r m agaz i ne • pag e

“The number and variety of the things for which we are different ends of the spectrum are, I’m sure, staggering, but shall we attempt to to be civil on stage?” she said with the confidence of those sure of their skill. He smiled in an exaggeratedly false apology. During her performance, which was directly before his, he nearly tripped as he moved to a better place to stand behind the curtain. The sounds, strange, perplexing, complex, made the remarkably complicated piece even more interesting. In a few minutes he was faced with not just a piece of music, but a philosophically sound argument about some of the pillars of his life. He was angry, moved, teary-eyed, and by the end even slightly aroused. She passed him as she exited the stage to waves of applause and gave him a tight smile. He then looked down and realized he would have to follow a performance he couldn’t even fully comprehend. Later, as champagne glasses clinked and tuxedoed patrons mingled, he searched for her. Purple hair was occasionally visible in the crowd. When he finally found her at the bar, he listened to her playfully instruct the bartender on the proper way to make a Perfect Manhattan. She saw him out of the corner of her eye and she seemed to try and hide the fact that her eyes were rolling. He gave her tight smile and said, “Truly, a thought provoking interpretation.” She bowed her head and raised her glass to him. He walked away, watching the setting sun dip into a violin-blue sea and breathing in the cool air, deeply, mourning lost chances and the stability of his own convictions.

Take me away far away deep deep into the sea Where mermaids sing and play and laugh and laugh At me. At me as I drown in beauty I cannot cannot understand I can barely see For a moment, a glorious moment, I am lifted I am free I am in the air and I am breathing But I Cannot feel. I can breath and see clearly on this rock shelf but I feel nothing, nothing but cold Nothing but the chill of the wind and the icy floor and below me the waves crash They look warm and the women with their full lips and dark eyes wave to me And when they laugh they sound like gulls screaming for fish And so I Hang, here, between drowning in beauty and living in numb solitude It is death, inevitably, but at least I can choose I choose...


tw e nty- four magazin e • page 43


TRANSMEDIA CHAIN

An angel is a a. stone dome inhabitant, dwelling in numbers b. delicate and flaxen-haired, fluttering girl c. power source, radiating in on you from all sides1 d. giver, a charitable savior e. pudgy and harp-bearing child f. All of the above.

1

twen ty-f o u r m agaz i ne • pag e

Be not afraid.


tw e nty- four magazin e • page 45


TRANSMEDIA CHAIN 2 oz Hudson Bay bourbon 1/2 oz Frangelico 3/4 oz someone else’s coffee Rinse of Cabo Wabo Reposado tequila (only a few drops needed) To build the drink, rinse a cocktail glass with the tequila (pull a Julia Child here, and drink the dregs of the tequila while you mix your drink). In a mixing glass, combine the bourbon, Frangelico, and coffee. Fill the glass with ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into the cocktail glass and garnish with a shred of someone else’s torn-up manuscript. This one should taste sort of like any morning after: a bit smoky, a bit sweet, and more than a little bitter.

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6


SCIENCE The Final Limit is You It is strange, sobering, maddening, amazing, and ultimately inconsequential to think that I will never be a string theorist. I have no particular drive to be a string theorist, and no guilt about being a non-string-theorist. But during most of a person’s youth they are aware that life is long and there is still time. Want to be a clown? You can still be a clown. Wake up one morning needing to be a novelist? You can start today. But at the age of not-quite-thirty, the very first possibilities are closing off. The number of years it takes to be a string theorist probably exceeds the number of good, math-y years I have left. Beyond the 6-odd years of college and grad school I haven’t taken, there are all of the remedial classes I’d have to take for the math I’ve forgotten. I haven’t done trig since freshman year of high school. Call it 8 years, then, and that’s just to get to quantum. (This is all presupposing, by the way, that my brain can even get back into the swing of things after so long away from any formal scientific training.) And then once I hit quantum, there’s however many years to get to string theory itself. It’s safe to say I’d be well into my forties, perhaps my fifties, before I could claim to be a string theorist. I think we know that’s not going to happen. And it’s curious to know that the very first doors are closing. What’s also curious is to realize just how elite the premier science-geniuses are. Edward Witten, the theoretician behind the prevailing version of superstring theory, is, if Time is to be believed, “generally considered the greatest theoretical physicist in the world.”1 Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about string theory. I can’t talk about string theory; I don’t understand a word of it. After seeing the Nova special on string theory in my college math class (this was “math for artists”), I talked to a friend about it, one who used to be an engineering student. He said, “Yeah, I tried to read a book on string theory. I couldn’t understand any of it.” If you saw the same Nova special, you may remember how all the underlying physics were explained with cute analogies, i.e.

twen ty-f o u r m agaz i ne • pag e

“imagine a parent and child playing catch, but every time they throw the ball, they move closer together; that’s how a graviton works.” Did you notice the way that once they started talking about string theory itself—and Witten’s M-theory in particular— they stopped explaining their analogies?

tell you all the science you learned in high school was lies and here’s the real truth. Then your second year, they explain that everything in your first year was lies, oversimplifications, and here’s the real truth. And then your third year comes around and... et cetera.

We’re talking about math so many orders up that it may be impossible to put into layman’s terms.

It’s always more complicated. Each progressive level is both more accurate and more abstract. In many fields, you never hit The Truth, and a good science education won’t pretend that anyone knows The Truth. We have only better and better guesses. If your interest in gravity is only in the way objects of certain mass move in relation to each other, you are interested in knowable, teachable facts. If you want to get into the movements of gravitons, the why of gravity, forget about it. No one knows. But they can show you the prevailing theories. Dedicate 30 years of study to it and maybe you’ll push the theories forward a tiny bit, and if you’re lucky you’ll die before you’re disproven.

M-theory, allegedly, proposed a way that the 5 competing string theories could, in fact, all be correct at the same time. I am taking Witten’s word on this. But that’s the question: how many people have to take him at his word? It takes 20 or more years of concentrated study to even begin tangle with his theories. I can’t imagine how few people can even claim to fully understand M-theory. If he’s the world’s greatest theoretical physicist, who’s qualified to peer-review him? And that’s the thing; that’s looking at the potential limit of what a human can come to know in a single lifetime. That’s the idea that’s fascinating, and perplexing, and yet has negligible effect on one’s life, which makes it doubly-fascinating and doublyperplexing. Journalists like to talk about Witten like he’s one of those once-in-acentury geniuses, like Newton and Einstein. Maybe that’s hyperbole, but geniuses of that type do pop up, and they’re usually dead by the time the next one comes along. During their lifetime, perhaps that’s it; that’s as far as people go in that direction. Until the next one comes along, you have to wonder if there’s any further we can go. So as not to flaunt some glaring ignorance, I’ll stress that I am quite sure many people understand M-theory, at least as well as theories of this kind can be understood. And perhaps someday, if they work out all the iffy bits and string theory still holds up, it will be ungodly simple. Teachable, even. It took a genius like Newton (or Leibniz if you prefer) to invent calculus, but now that the legwork is done it can be understood by teenagers. (Or, certain teenagers, anyway. I got a C in Calc.) But somehow I doubt that M-theory is going in that direction. twenty-four teammate Johanna, a Real And Actual Scientist, explained science education to me like this: Your first year in college physics, they

But the really crazy idea is that sooner or later we’re going to hit the edge, and it’s not going to be answers; it’s going to be the hard limit, either of the brain’s processing power or the length of human life. The idea that we’ll find things our brains are simply unable to decode, or that require more years of study than a human lives. I wouldn’t say that this is certainly true, and you’d never know if you’d hit that point or if you’re just waiting for the next revolution. A limit’s only a limit until someone breaks it, like calculus, or the 4-minute mile. And it’s hard to imagine we’ll ever run out of things to ponder. If M-theory were the end of physics (hint: it’s not), there’s still biology. It’s not so much the idea that the hard limit of what humans can know is almost here, or that we’ll see it in our lifetime. Simply consider the idea that it may exist at all, and at any given time, and you don’t know how far away it is. - IAN DAN SKIN

1

twentyfourmagazine.com/issue-two


INTERVIEW For issue one of twenty-four magazine, Rose Ginsberg interviewed Sarah Bisman, a producer of the 24 Hour Plays. The creation of Issue 2 overlapped with a production of the 24 Hour Plays in L.A., so Rose and Sarah decided to stay in contact throughout the process and compare notes.

time. Hanging out w our lighting designer Zach. He took me to most amazing music shop.

friends jacket and a plea to kiss a best friend. #24HRLA #meetandgreet

~5:20 PM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

I bought a wee les Paul epiphone uke. Grabbing lunch soon. Then a nap!!!

Scrubs, a femur, a singing pickle and lots of sports equipment. The possibilities are endless. #meetandgreet #24HRLA

5:27 PM MsEnScene

2:29 AM MsEnScene PM to TheSarahBiz

~11:00 AM MsEnScene PM to TheSarahBiz

@TheSarahBiz   That is AWESOME. If you were here, there could be duets! (We have a ukelele onsite, of course.)

2:29am - Finished everything but my miniinterviews. I have conducted them all & am transcribing now. Loved your meet-andgreet tweets!

Hi! Checking in: I just wrote about working on a magazine while not being a writer. Hope production things are good!

5:28 PM TheSarahBiz

~12:00 pm TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

@MsEnScene  next issue!

We’re in the middle of our walk through at Santa Monica’s Broad Stage. This is opp for theater, producers, beneficiary, sponsors, PR [...] to all touch base about the flow of events and any last minute concerns.

7:58 PM MsEnScene PM to TheSarahBiz

12:02 PM TheSarahBiz

Good morning-noon to my friends at #24mag, who are a couple of hours into their own day of 24-related-activity. 12:04 PM TheSarahBiz

Follow #24mag at @24magazine. You can’t take me anywhere. I forget all the important user handles. Moar coffee. 12:08 PM MsEnScene

Thanks for the  #24mag  shout-out,  @ TheSarahBiz! We’re also keeping an eye on @24HourPlays and #24HRLA over here. Break all the legs! ~1:00 PM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

OOh. I like this! We finished our walkthru, re-located the nearest Staples, and are about to have lunch and make a supply run. ~1:00 PM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

Our talent is starting to get excited too. Our show Twitter account is starting to get a bit of activity.

7:58pm - Have written the rough draft of an article and am out for a walk before dinner and more transcribing. Hope you’re napping well! ~9:00 PM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

Aside from our little music break I ran a couple of errands and gave some team members a ride to Kinkos. NOW I’m going to rest. 1 hr. ~9:00 PM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

Then up for 12-13 more. Red Bull & Coffee will see me through. ~9:00 PM MsEnScene PM to TheSarahBiz

Ah yes, caffeine. How we love you. I’ve had two ice coffees today and may switch to soda of some kind for overnight. Gotta switch it up. ~11:00 PM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

As soon as this production meeting is over we are setting up the writers room. Talent and creative start rolling in at 9-9:30. ~11:00 PM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

What’s the editing process like for you now that you’re starting that?

2:00 AM TheSarahBiz

~4:00 AM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

Aw, thanks!!! It’s just me and one assistant with the writers. I’ll feel better when they’re fed. :D 4:19 AM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

I’m on my 2nd can of red bull. It’s 1:20 in the morning, so guess what time my body thinks it is. >:-O Yup. Ordered food. Writers writing. 5:00 AM MsEnScene PM to TheSarahBiz

It’s 5:00 AM, and I am putting our Twitter conversations together into a feature for the magazine. I may include this message. META! 5:05 AM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

SO META, ZOMG. I am overtweeting to the universe right now. I just shared my ex’s friend’s amazing spotify playlist with Teh Internets. 5:05 AM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

In 25 minutes I make writers give me a first draft of stuff. 5:07 AM MsEnScene PM to TheSarahBiz

Roughly 12 hours after our rough drafts were due. Makes sense, given our overall schedules. Hey coordination! 6:19 AM TheSarahBiz

~3:00 PM MsEnScene PM to TheSarahBiz

~1:00 AM MsEnScene PM to TheSarahBiz

Nice! I’ve been across Brooklyn, rehearsing a monologue from The Tempest set for acting marimbist. Heading back to write about it now.

Sorry I disappeared there! I’m working on recording mini-interviews with all of the collaborators.

It’s both inspiring & lovely that our friends at #24mag are hard at work on their project at same time we are w/ #24HRLA. Kindred spirits.

~1:00 AM MsEnScene PM to TheSarahBiz

6:22 AM 24Magazine

~3:00 PM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

Editing: we give Sara a piece. She edits, gives back with notes. We add notes, she or someone else edits a 2nd time, gives back again.

@TheSarahBiz  We’re so glad to be sharing this day with you.

Officially, now we’re off for lunch, supplies, and Other Mysterious Production Activities. 5:18 PM MsEnScene PM to TheSarahBiz

Yay, mysterious production activities! It is now 5:18pm and I have transcribed my first interview of the issue. There will be more.

~1:00 AM MsEnScene PM to TheSarahBiz

Then, if no more changes to make, it goes to Jack for layout!

~5:20 PM TheSarahBiz PM to MsEnScene

1:35 AM TheSarahBiz

Woo. I’m enjoying my 2.5 hours of personal

A t-Rex mask, a 4-wheeled dolly, a dead

tw e nty- four magazin e • page


DOCUMENTATION HAIKU Limited Hearing I don’t hear out of my right ear. It is alternately not a big deal at all, and something that governs all of my interactions with the world. I lost my hearing as a child due to cholesteatoma—truly disgustingly described on Wikipedia as, “a destructive and expanding growth consisting of keratinizing squamous epithelium in the middle ear and/or mastoid process.” I don’t fully understand what that means in medical terms, but what it means in my life is that the bones in my right ear are ceramic and I have a skin graft for an ear drum. This all happened when I was quite young, early in elementary school. When I became a musician a few years later, it wasn’t as though I knew what I was missing. In music school I discovered a secret society of hard-of-hearing musicians. We found each other subtly, not wanting to announce to the world that we were missing part of what would seem to be an essential sense for musicians to have. There were at least a handful of us lacking directional hearing and never being quite sure if the narrow portion of the orchestra we heard was what everyone else heard or not. Was my difficulty with ear training due to a fundamental inability to differentiate pitches? Or would it have been a tricky subject for me even with full hearing? At this point in my life my hearing affects me in three ways: I train all of my friends to walk on my left so as not to miss out on the conversation; I stay away from loud venues and bars because I end up feeling too isolated; and I sleep on my left because I then have built in ear plugs blocking out the hum of electronics or snoring.

Sleep is elusive.

Continuing mistakes

I’ve promised to document

suggest that sleep is still

our new magazine.

an issue for me.

Lord of the art direction,

Three of us are curled

we are putting green dots

like seashells in the bedroom.

along the walls.

Someone is snoring.

Sneakily, they blend

Steven says my poems

in, obscuring where lines should

vary in quality. That

be, these stealth haiku.

means some are good, right?

Twitter is full of

7am and

vagaries. I just want to

the editors are talking

write meta haiku.

about our cover.

I tweet these from a

I’m astounded by

bed that is full of pillows.

the productivity ‘round

It is very nice.

me. Write more poems.

The time edging near. I really have no idea what is going on.

- CA S EY M I D DA U G H

twen t y -f o u r m ag a z i ne • pag e

0

- CASEY MIDDAUGH


PROSPERO Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves, And ye that on the sands with printless foot Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him When he comes back; you demi-puppets that By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make, Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime Is to make midnight mushrumps, that rejoice To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid, Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm’d The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds, And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck’d up The pine and cedar: graves at my command Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ‘em forth By my so potent art. But this rough magic I here abjure, and, when I have required Some heavenly music, which even now I do, To work mine end upon their senses that This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff, Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, And deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book. Solemn music

tw e nty- four magazin e • page

1


Making the tempest 2

This Rough Magic

nostalgically through the music, and3 that understanding I always come out of a great rehearsal 3walk13 j made his perj j flowed back into ing on air. Everything is wonderful. I take Sop. & ‰ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ≈ ¿ ¿ ¿ the music ¿ ¿ and ¿ ¿ ¿ ‰ ¿ formance even better. hours to come down, and the only thing I (weakshow mas -ters I have be - dimmed the noon - tide sun, called want to do is make more art and it though to ye be); Ian’s voice itself was a challenge. His gradually crescendo from the world. Today was like13that.whisper along with the soprano, voice isn’t trained in the way that an actor’s

∑ in this Œ would be. The marimba or a singer’s This afternoon, I left the mag&twenty-four ˙æ. piece is loud and without the vocal power of azine production house with Rose Ginsberg, P Mrb. a trained voice it’s practically impossible to theater director, twenty-four˙magazine con. ? Œ b œœæ Œ If you watchÓ the video on YouTube compete. tributor, and very old friend.æ We went to my you’ll hear how Ian’s words are very hardœto friend Ian Rosenbaum’s apartment. Ian is an hearmore even though his character is very well old friend from Peabody, a wonderful percus- growing powerful f 16 defined. sionist, and a not-frequent-enough collaboraj 3 Sop. tor. The three of us spent&almost ¿ . two ¿ . learn ¿ ¿hours¿ ¿ Most ¿ ¿ actors 4 ¿ their‰ vocal ¿ ¿ delivery ¿ at44 out of our twenty-four rehearsing This Rough thethesame time as their ability, twixt the green sea and a - zur'd vault interpretative set roa - ring Magic, a setting I wrote of a key Prospero so hearing Ian interpret so well with an un. b œ. ˙ 16 b œ b œ speech from Shakespeare’s The Tempest for ˙ trained voice was very unusual. If Rose and b œ œ ‰ 3 ˙˙ Œ I ever acting marimba. & Ó 4 on our plan btoœ create a44 follow through almost no tone, all consonant.

We wanted to explore the limits and boundMrb. aries between text and music in performance, # # œœœœbreakœœœœ ? you and see what happens when Œ try to them down. I wrote the first version æof theæ piece during one of the 24hr concerts I used to run at Peabody, so it 19seemed appropriate j3 to bring the piece Sop. into this twenty-four-hour & ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ hack-a-thon of creativity-that-goes-on-paper. thun - der

a whisper to full voice

æ fully staged versionƒof The Tempest out of this

challenges was combining his precise perj cussionist ¿ . ¿ ¿ rhythm ¿ ¿ ¿with‰ a ¿more free acting rhythm. forth the mu - ti-nous winds,

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Ian has to create his own internal, invisible score that allows œ nhimj to think about the Ó at the same level ofœ rhythmic ‰ words precision as he does the notes. It’s almost as if he’s ‘upconverting’ the rhythm of the words to the same ˙˙æ high resolution as the rhythm of the ˙ percussion.

Actors need much more room to interpret than instrumentalists do. j3 In This Rough Mag‰ ¿ ic, I had¿ to¿ give ¿ Ian a ¿lot ¿of detail about the notes, and very the words. war; to the dreadlittle about rat - tling reach full voice, matching the soprano

# œœBolt With His Own

#œ ƒ The real of rehearsing this piece is the p fun sub. f monologue, we’ll have to hire a vocal coach. >moments , where the interpretation of the mu˙ œœœ come # œ #Da34 we’ll just ask Elspeth Then again, maybe ‰ œœœœ together, like at the Œ œ 44 ˙˙˙sic and theb b #words œ vis, a wonderful mezzo-soprano who hapærifted Jove’s stout oak æ end of the line “And pens to be Ian’s girlfriend. That could work. with his own bolt.3” ƒ j3 j j . ¿ Rhythm ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿. ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ Œ Œ ‰ ¿

have I gi - ven re

- ted Jove's stout oak with his own bolt; the I always and say thatrifthere is a spectrum of gliss down the whole instrument, rhythm. Percussionists and dancers are the R.H. on white notes, L.H. on black bmost œ æprecise; change æ ~~~ æ œ œ . even a little and they’ll b œ Ó n œœ .. œœ b œœ b ˙˙˙˙ b ~ ~~~~~~~~~ œ butb œthey know. I probably won’t, œ Then . will. ~~~ ~~~ > there are other instrumentalists. They have Ï ~~~~~~~~~~~ a little room to flex the beat and stretch N œœ out œœ ~~~ ~~~ Ó dramatic effect.b œœThen œœ ‰ ~~~ or press forward for ~~ J are singers, who have rhythms given toæthem for every note. But ask anyone who has ever On that word, “bolt”, Ian has to give a Ï 22 played3 in jan opera orchestra if singers can j thundering glissando right down the instru3 Œ and Œ ‰ With Sop. ¿ . he & ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿count, ¿ you’ll ¿ ¿ see 4what¿ I mean. ¿ ¿ ment. ¿  Before ¿ even ¿ played ¿ 44it the first time, An Actor & A Drummer blocking and character there’sandan by he’ strong - based pro-mon have I made shake, thed made spurs an plucked up the improvement. I put in a note Ian isn’t an actor. He’s a percussionist. In - to - rywords and extra dimension that can distort the gliss up from the written bottom of the marimba, from about doing one hand on the “black notes” this piece he has to be both. But the tools that downbeat, until these chords are reached. rhythm. This isn’t a bad the thing, butnotes, it L.H. doeson white.which are the notes that are black on a piano, R.H. on black shape attitude and emotion in music translate 22 mean accompanying a singer is a matter # œœ of andbone very well to shaping attitude and emotion in 3 ∑ œ ˙ on the “white notes”.4 In this case, it & listening more than it is4of playing what’s æ in was œ just˙ a stupid thing to try4to do. It would acting. In each, you think about intention, front of you. have meant one hand dropping off in between and use different emotions for different secÏ

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tions to help shape your performance. Even though Ian doesn’t have?an# wæwacting backww ground, that musical skill transferred very quickly to his acting delivery, and his interpretation developed very, very quickly.

As a composer, one of the most amazing things to see was how Ian’s improved performance as an actor reinforced his musical decisions. He started understanding the text

twen ty-f o u r m agaz i ne • pag e 5 2

~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~

We came back with photographs, record19 put Ian’s best take b œ ings and video. So far we’ve up on Youtube with wonderful & video effects added by Victoria Nece, and started a “transMrb.on a few bars from the media chain” based piece that ended in tearing ? b up# œœœsome otherœ b œ a cocktail. œ music I hastily scribbled to garnish æ It’s been a weird day.

Most flexible of all is the rhythm b ˙ of spo34 tempo ˙ markings. ken text. Actors don’t have ~~~don’t ~ æ ~ Actors don’t have meter. They follow ~ ~~~~ don’t count conductors and they certainly themselves in with beats per minute. Spoken text needs to stretch a lot, and the actor and director need to create an interpretation that determines the rhythm of the speech. For This Rough Magic, one of Ian’s biggest

˙ sounds for no good œ clicking 44 reason. I was ˙ œ ant stupid to write it, and Ian just ignored it and æ the “black notes” and making a lot of unpleasplayed something that sounded better.

Very good musicians will do that. But even so, the first time we did it, it didn’t quite work. Ian was playi ng the glissando after the word “bolt”, which is a natural thing to do. Jazz singers do it all the time – they’ll move a chord or a


tw e nty- four magazin e • page 53


Making the tempest

twen ty-f o u r m agaz i ne • pag e 5 4


word a little bit off the beat to make it easier to understand what they’re saying. The second time, Ian added a stronger attack on the front of the glissando, to make it match the accent in the voice on “bolt.” But that didn’t quite work – we had too many beats: “bolt”, then accented attack, then gliss down. The whole line was building up to this really powerful release! But there were two releases instead of one. The right solution was to keep the attack on the front of the glissando, but line it up exactly with the word “bolt.” So you heard one strong “bolt/accented attack” followed by the glissando down, representing the thunderbolt itself. Figuring this sort of thing out is why you need actors, directors and rehearsals. It’s why you throw things up on their feet. There are a dozen moments that got this sort of attention throughout the piece. Rose, Ian and I do love performances, and we love applause. But you can’t really make art like this unless you love working out detailed moments like this that connect words and music into one shape.

The Physical Marimba Marimbas are huge. Which notes you’re playing dictate almost entirely where you’re standing, how you’re holding your arms, and what shape you’re making with your body. When composers are learning how to write for marimba we’re told to think as much about the movement of the player as we do about the notes they’re meant to be playing. This is very good advice. Often when I’m writing for marimba you can see me jumping around near my desk and waving my fists around with two pencils sticking out of each hand. This is a totally normal thing to do. This means that in a piece of just-marimba music, the musicians look like they’re dancing. In a Shakespeare-based theatrical piece, however, that means that almost all of Ian’s blocking was determined before the director, Rose, ever set eyes on her actor. Rose was very concerned about this. What if the blocking she was stuck with didn’t fit the story at all? For all that we musicians

love to focus on the sound of music alone, how we’re standing and moving and showing emotion on our faces tells the audience how to feel much more than the notes do. There was a real danger that this piece was going to incomprehensible if Prospero had to be big when he should have been small. When I was writing the piece, I tried to tell the story of the speech with the music. I tried to make it match. When you’re setting text to music you need to put strong syllables on strong beats, or it will sound really weird. I tried to do the same thing with the music and the motion.

text and music as less than composing. Some people have seen it as merely adding sound effects (meant as a pejorative—don’t try saying that to a sound designer or a foley artist). But that’s not what it is to me. To me it’s matching an actor’s pitches and rhythms with those of music as closely as I can, using what I know about the text from my own reading. To me, it’s taking two meaningful strands of pitch and rhythm and creating something new. It’s counterpoint. - KE VIN CLARK

As it turned out, the way that Ian had to move did fit in Rose’s mind with Prospero, and what he’s doing in this monologue. He’s saying goodbye to his magic, to his staff and his book, and to his power. He’s choosing to give it all up and go home. There are two lines that Prospero speaks a capella, “But this rough magic I here abjure” and “I’ll break my staff ”. One of the only blocking decisions Rose was actually able to make was that on those lines, when Ian isn’t playing anything at all, he should step away from the instrument. Prospero is trying to give it up, but he has one more spell to cast, and the magic, the power, and the music are so seductive that he barely can. He’s made his decision and is saying farewell, but it’s not an easy thing to do.

Words and Music I love the boundary between words and music. How far can you push words before they become music? How can music take the shape and sound of words? And together, what can they accomplish? I love the pitches and rhythms of language and poetry. There is rhythm and pitch in the English language. It’s not as specific as what you find in music, but iambic pentameter certainly has a rhythm. We don’t use pitch to convey meaning in English, but pitch is important. Just think of the rising inflection at the end of a question? Without it, wouldn’t something be missing. You could look at what I do with spoken

tw e nty- four magazin e • page


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EPHEMERA

I

’ve known the occupants of this space for a while. One for a year or two, the other twice as long. They are, in their own ways, makers. Personally, I’ve never been a maker. I’m a writer and I’m a designer, but these are intangible crafts. They are builders of things, shapers of matter. Making things both intrigues and confuses me. Their hands know how move in ways mine don’t seem to. As well, they are collectors. Masses of stuff, tiny and large, fill their space. Jewelry and tools, carvings and antiques, crafts and projects. I’ve conspired to reduce the things in my life to my phone, my computer, my clothes, and my relatively small number of essential toys. They have boxes of paraphernalia, memorabilia, tables covered in of all manner of tchotchkes, and shelves upon shelves of books which, like many of their collections, bring me pangs of guilt. I’ve gone to great lengths to remove ephemera from my life. I’ve digitized things; first my music, then my movies, and finally my books, but I still love the feel of spines and edges, and all of those tactile reminders of a past full of material items. Is it strange to walk through their home and steal images of their relics and curios, ignorant of the little stories such things carry, and sigh as if passing by lost loves? I’ve chosen specific limits for my life. It helps me let go of the past, which can so often anchor itself to objects. I’ve decided to travel light and focus on creating stories. At some point I chose words over books and although it’s hard not to look back, it’s lovely that I have friends who let me trace their spines and finger their pages when I need to. - worDS & pHotoS By JaCK Stratton

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tw e nty- four magazin e • page 61


CONTRIBUTORS Ian Danskin @InnuendoStudios

Casey Middaugh @casitareina

Animate. Make games. Edit sounds. Edit video. Draw. Write. Shoot video. Sleep. Someday, somehow: sleep.

Casey is a game and experience designer. Her work focuses on community, interaction, and personal experiences.

Sara Eileen Hames @SaraEileen Sara Eileen Hames tells stories, organizes people, and creates strange publishing ventures.

Jack Stratton @writingdirty Jack Stratton is a writer, graphic designer, fop, rake, rapscallion, dandy, and all around fancy pants lucubrator.

Kevin Clark @kevinefclark I write music, I write about writing music, and I talk about Kickstarter a lot.

Pablo Defendini @pablod Producer; designer; printmaker; ebookmaker; science-fiction and tech geek; ronin; robot in disguise; sometimes nsfw.

Steven Padnick @padnick Steven Padnick is a freelance writer and editor. By day. You can find his work and funny pictures at http:// padnick.tumblr.com.

Victoria Nece @fakegreendress Victoria makes animation, motion graphics, and astounds the whole staff with 3d photography.

Johanna Bobrow @silverandindigo Johanna is a scientist, musician and photographer. She has spent the past 24 hours obsessed with color and light.

Rose Ginsberg @MsEnScene Rose loves to tell stories. Usually she uses scripts and actors, but in a pinch she’ll sing you a song or write you an article.

Tania Asnes @taniaasnes Explored the resonance of her newly opened acting instrument in creating collaborative print media, and defeated evildoers.

Elizabeth Boskey @melebeth Elizabeth is the foreign correspondent for #24mag #2 because the alternative was hiding in the closet...

The Morning After It’s a beautiful sunny morning. A cool breeze blows in and birds call to each other in bright notes. I have been awake for twenty-four hours now, and I have been working on this magazine for almost twenty-one. Most of the magazine has been written and designed, and most of us are still at work, but not all. About a third of the contributors are passed out around the apartment, and there’s a peaceful calm coming in with the new day. It’s quite a contrast to twelve hours ago, when none of the magazine was written, and half of the magazine was left unplanned. That was probably the worst moment, when it all looked undoable, when the word counts were low. But those that had done this before seemed unconcerned, so I went along. Now, frankly, it seems so easy. I am in that weird liminal state where my body just assumes that if it’s dawn and I’m awake, I must have slept the night before. It won’t last—it never does—but in this moment it seems like really anything is possible. We’ve made something beautiful. We did it by working together, by learning from and inspiring and challenging one another. This is what happens when you push yourself to your limits, when you exhaust all of your resources in a quest to do something great, but also to exhaust yourself. It’s easier to remove all of the junk from your mind, from your soul, and from your self-perception until all that remains is the true self, the essential you. I feel something quietly transcendent. But there are still nagging doubts. By definition, I’m still writing this piece, and our designers are still putting the magazine together, if at a subdued rate. I am confident. I am hopeful. I am fucking tired. - Ste en paDn iCK

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Thank You


ISSUE 2 #24MAG