Sleeping Through The Pandemic

Lee Tusman

Artist Statement

This procedural narrative was created in fall 2021 at a time of decreasing days of sunlight, uncertainty during Covid-19 case spikes, and isolation. An autobiographical story of life during the pandemic, Sleeping Through The Pandemic was created in a game engine as a top-down 2dimensional narrative alternating between apartment environments and text inter-titles. The story is rendered in 8bit graphics of bedrooms, desks, refrigerators, stoves, toilets, showers, couches, books, computers...the "stuff" surrounding us in everyday life. The story presents a digitally-mediated recreation of my physical environment, interspersed with a personal narrative that complements and contrasts with the quotidian apartment living.
Sleeping Through the Pandemic is created and scripted in PuzzleScript, an open source HTML5 game engine for creating linear puzzle games. Constructing a personal narrative is not a typical use case for this game engine, which is designed around creating sliding block-based puzzle games in the tradition of the 1980s japanese puzzle game Sokoban. Rather, it is a 'hack' of the engine, one whose affordances allow for constructing pixel-based environments, sound design, and narrative text. All art was created in 5x5 pixel grids, drawn and laid out with ASCII text. Interaction and movement was scripted in the PuzzleScript Domain Specific Language.
To advance in the story, one must go to sleep in each apartment.
Controls: X or Space to advance. Arrow keys to move.

About the Artist

Lee Tusman is a New York-based new media artist, educator and organizer applying the radical ethos of collectives and DIY culture to the creation of, aesthetics, and open-source distribution methods of digital culture. His work is shown at museums, galleries, artist-run spaces and virtual environments. He is Assistant Professor of New Media and Computer Science at Purchase College. Tusman is an organizer at Babycastles collective fostering and amplifying diverse voices in videogame culture and a member of art collective Flux Factory. Tusman has been an artist-in-resident at Pioneer Works, ARoS Public, BACC/Silpakorn University, Signal Culture, Plexus Projects. He is a co-founder of Processing Community Day NYC and is the founder/host of Artists and Hackers. podcast Tusman studied Sociology at Brandeis University and received his MFA in Design Media Arts at UCLA.

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