Friday, May 22, 2015

Lissitzky's Revenge

I'm a big fan of Constructivism so when I stumbled upon a game based on El Lissitzky's famous poster "Beat the whites with the red wedge" from 1919, I immediately fell in love with it.

Scenes from "Lissitzky's revenge" ( © Christopher Totten )

In Lissitzky's original work, red wedge trying to slice the white circle is the symbol of Bolsheviks trying to penetrate and defeat the White movement during the Russian Civil War while in the game, you are actually this tiny red wedge with a task of piercing the white circle while dodging the Russian words. The visual experience itself is magnificent since paper cut-outs were used for making the "worlds" that one needs to conquer and the Russian music from the era boosts up the atmosphere throughout the gameplay. And as you go through the levels, puzzles become harder to solve.

Scenes from "Lissitzky's revenge" ( © Christopher Totten )

This brilliant game was developed by Atelier Games and is suppose to be the first one in the series of games inspired by 20th century art movements and artists. I love the way the creators at Atelier Games played on words when describing the game as Lissitzky was one of the artists who was first considered a supremacist, doing art for art's sake but who later adopted the material culture, adapting art to the principles of functional organization, thus becoming a constructivist :

"This Suprematist game is a simple action game for games’ sake - or is it actually a Constructivist propagandha game? Will you play the way it tells you to or will you think for yourself? "

Lissitzky's revenge can be played for free at Game Jolt or can be downloaded for Windows or Linux.

"Good luck comrade!"

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Continuing the research that I started in my previous post, on visualization of sound, my diggings have led me to the father of sound waves visualization - Ernst Chladni ( 1756-1827). Musician and physicist, Chladni succeeded in making visible what sound waves generate with the help of a violin bow which he drew perpendicularly across the edge of flat metal plates covered with sand, producing beautiful geometrical patterns and shapes which are today called Chladni figures.

Chladni figures

Almost 200 years later, in the 60's and 70's, Hans Jenny, a Swiss doctor, artist, and researcher, took Chladni's experiments further, using not only sand but various materials like spores, iron filings and water, and placing them on vibrating metal plates. He discovered that if he increased the frequency, the complexity of the patterns increased, the number of elements became greater and if on the other hand he increased the amplitude, the motions became all the more rapid and turbulent and could even create small eruptions. Jenny coined a term for this new area of research - cymatics, the study of sound and vibrations made visible.

 Sand pattern
Water pattern

What Hans Jenny pointed out is the remarkable resemblance between the shapes and patterns we see around us in physical reality ( snowflakes and flowers for example ) and the shapes and patterns he generated in his investigations. Jenny was convinced that biological evolution was a result of vibrations, and that their nature determined the ultimate outcome. Romanticizing this idea, I started to think about shapes in nature which might be the most perfect examples of "music taking on a visible form" and I remembered radiolaria. (!)

Ernst Haeckel's Radiolaria