Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t slept in a few days, but Joy Exhibition is exactly the sort of thing I need right now.
Put on a spaceship with a bunch of mute aliens, your only hope of communicating with them is through art. Luckily, you have a room full of blank canvases and an arsenal of mysterious paint guns to work with. But here’s the catch – almost everything is procedurally-generated, from the aliens themselves to the guns to whatever shoots out of them. You don’t know what it is you’re actually creating until you’ve already made an impression on the canvas, and maybe that thing transforms or distorts or changes colors in front of you. It’s hard to convey anything that may directly translate to something human and familiar, but it’s even more difficult to determine what your guests are looking for, if they anything at all. Some may stop for a moment to appreciate your work, leaving you to wonder what it is about that particular mess of shapes that speaks to them. Others may simply ignore you, no matter what.
As an often frustrated creative type, it’s scarily accurate to how we often yearn to be heard. Joy Exhibition does half of the work for you, essentially trapping a ready audience in a confined space, but they have no obligation to you. They offer no guarantee that you’ll be acknowledged. They don’t even react at the sight of you; the only hope of making yourself known is to possibly create something that catches their eye. For every painting that gets passed by, you get the sense that you have absolutely no control over the situation and may even question what the hell it is you’re doing. It’s the plight of every self-published author or obscure Youtuber or… unknown blogger.
The procedural nature of the experience is a hidden blessing, though. At first you may be frustrated or confused with your lack of control over the situation, but you can safely assume that whatever the finished product is, it’s yours. It took me five or six tries before I produced something that I liked – a splash of purple and green that I was oddly proud of. Of course, my audience seemed rather nonplussed about it, only earning the most cursory of glances.
‘Well, screw them’, I thought. ‘I created that thing and I liked it. That’s all that matters.’
Now that I think about it, it may be a little too realistic.