This year, while I was separated from my partner for several months due to the pandemic holding up visa processing and travel, I had to come up with things to do. It was a period of time where I basically could hardly leave the house, and didn't really have any social contact beyond my family, discord calling my partner, and, of course, The Zone. I don't like to linger on it much, because it was a really stressful time, but one of my achievements this year is definitely getting through that period.
Anyways, what did I do? It was a weird mix:
- rewatched Hannibal
- got deeply into processing my feelings through The Silver Case fanfiction
- researched and panicked about developments in the UK visa system daily
- started a one-sided rivalry with Sally Rooney's work after I discovered we were born in the same year
- contemplated never being able to see my partner again (should have spent a lot less time doing this)
- became a more committed anarchist (if border abolition seemed like a good idea before, it was now a great idea...)
- cultivated intense nostalgia for the moss, lichens, and hogweed along the clyde in Glasgow
And plenty of other things, I'm sure. The point being, because I couldn't really go anywhere, because I couldn't apply for jobs and scheduled academic events and opportunities all basically vanished instantly, and because it was hard to focus on "productive" stuff from the stress and confusion, it's all kind of a slurry in my brain. But one thing I did push myself to start and maintain was the twitter account @dream_stills.
It's a pretty simple page. I set up an emulator to play LSD: Dream Emulator on my computer because it's a game that's very generative and interesting, without requiring a lot of action or processing a lot of information on the player's part, besides just walking and looking around. It was basically the level of interesting distraction to effort that I could manage. I discovered that the emulator had the ability to mimic CRT monitor effects and also take snapshots, and I loved how these screenshots came out kind of vague, textured, nostalgic... They made me think of what is absolutely the best elements of one of my favorite ever art projects, Suzanne Treister's Fictional Videogame Stills. So I ended up taking a lot of photos in LSD and wanting to share them.
Making sure I uploaded 2 or 3 to the account daily was a small thing to hold myself accountable to when writing or reading academic material was too hard. It gave a little structure to my day; if nothing else, at least every few hours I did that. They trailed off and became more irregular once I actually got back, and started running out of photos, though sometimes I would think to just put one up.
Maybe it was reading Melos' recent blog on "Shuffled World Games," which put a name to something I really, really like, or just the fact that I've basically finished with my obligations for the year and am giving myself two weeks off to prepare for the further big life changes probably forthcoming in the new year, but I just had the urge to pick LSD back up today. I was impressed with how fresh and exciting it felt even though, by now, I've played almost 100 in-game days and have a pretty thorough sense of the game's "areas" and how it tends to shuffle you through them.
I felt like I was capturing really neat images again almost immediately! It's not creativity in the traditional sense, but by throwing so many interesting combinations of space, theme, object at you, LSD manages to feel like a process of discovery, and making interesting images of it a process of creation, despite being a static object. This is kind of what I found intriguing about videogames as a kid and seem to so rarely find now, the idea that the mysterious liveliness of the computer could keep presenting you genuinely surprising and unpredictable things.
Anyways, I plan to keep putting up photos regularly now... until I get busy or distracted with something else of course! For the rest of the year though, my only tasks are to do the big shop for Christmas dinner (for 2) and make a secret santa gift for the Bitsy discord. All the rest of my time I'm going to spend reading the backlog of books and comics I built up over the year, and photographing dreams.