I want to design a p5.js game where you are in charge of deciding what a sandwich is… and eventually you are in charge of larger definitions too, like what art is, and what work is.
I’ve raved a lot about this Ursula Le Guin piece by now…. which has been sitting in my mind and igniting all sorts of things for the past year.
It’s such a good read.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about words. What they mean, how they define and restrict human activity, how they create dominant culture, how they exclude groups from power…
I focus on this quote from Le Guin specifically, since it sums up well what I want to illustrate.
So what even is work? How are we parameterizing these words—words which are NOT objective whatsoever but often designed like gated gardens?
Before sandwiches, there was soup (probably, this is broadly true.)
I played this game last week called Something Something Soup Something, where you play an alien entity tasked with serving humans soup. Only, you don’t know what humans think is soup!
You have the very grand responsibility of defining what soup-ness is.
As I was playing this game, I thought of how people on the internet have been debating what sandwiches are.
Is a hot dog a sandwich?
The discussion has become so intense (lol) that people have created charts like this to navigate your sandwich philosophy personality type.
Is a sandwich defined just as substrates A, between substrates B?
If no, then what?
Somehow (somehow), I’m going to transition from asking people about whether something is a sandwich… to asking if a sandwich qualifies as art.
And what about making sandwiches? Is it work?
I want to escalate to increasingly domestic and “non-work” tasks until the player might even think it’s absurd.
I’m reminded of an exhibit at the Whitney called, The History of Protest Art. I haven’t seen, but I would love to.
As one protest, an “artist” invited people to do an activity for an hour, like walking, surfing the internet, eating a snack, and call it “ART.”
So, it ought to be as mundane and as everyday as those tasks. But I would like there to be a tilt towards economics, gender… economics of gender.
Custodians, lunch ladies, construction workers as artists, for instance.