pathways, desire lines
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"Pathways, Desire Lines" is a prototype, and represents an attempt to condense some of the core findings and literature of my doctoral thesis into a minimalist and accessible multimedia form. I am in the final phases of researching the ukulele's "third wave" of popularity in the United Kingdom beginning at the turn of the new millennium, and at times I find myself feeling overwhelmed at the task of trying to translate the ideas and narratives I'm wrestling with into an accessible form, which feels incongruous with a musical world in which accessibility and inclusiveness are primary concerns.
The game (really more of a series of spaces to explore; there are no high scores, and no competitive element, much like the musical pathways it describes) is a very incomplete meditation on my thesis findings, but I nonetheless hope it captures both some of my central ideas, and the sense of play and finding-out that has been present for me as a researcher throughout the project.
This project does not reproduce any of my data as it will appear in the final thesis, both for reasons of participants' privacy, and to sidestep issues of data publication. I lean heavily on Annette Markham's method of "fabrication", which involves "creative, bricolage-style transfiguration of original data into composite accounts or representational interactions". Real experiences and findings have been combined, conflated, fictionalised and representatively adapted. This is also rather helpful in transforming the content of a 100,000 word document into a sub-5-minute game!
Pathways, Desire Lines is built using the Bitsy game engine, a web application by Adam LeDoux designed for minimalist storytelling and exploration. Bitsy's constraints are, at times, extreme (by default it allows only three colours per game -- I have hacked it here to introduce a fourth!), but its simplicity and limitations mean that it does not require any coding ability. In this respect, it seemed a perfect medium to explore the feel of a musical world in which skill is often irrelevant to worth and meaning.
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