Fool’s Mate – Language and storytelling in games

Chessboard before any moves are madeOnce upon a time two armies assembled, opposed to one another on a battlefield. The crystal army, led by a foolish king, charged their king’s guard forward without thinking of the consequences. They left their king open to attack…

In “A Course On General Linguistics“(1916) Ferdinand de Saussure made comparisons between chess and language. Saussure was observing some intrinsic relationship between language and games, showing how changes in the design of pieces from ivory to wood make little difference, but changes in the movement or number of pieces distort the “grammar” of a game of chess. In The Medium Is The Massage, theorist Marshall McLuhan put forward a concept that the messages that we receive are not so much in what is said, but in what is used to say it.

Fool's mate opening move (edited photograph)There is a saying in school games, “to have pax”. This reminded me of chasing (tag), and something that we used to say as children, “tax” (probably a distortion of “pax”). The origins of the word pax are in Latin – it means peace. We said this in order to take a break, for example when we needed to tie our shoelace. I posed the question to my Facebook community about what was the common term in their school-yards, and received a spate of alternatives from across Ireland, from “boxed”, “tax” and “pox” to, bizarrely, “keys” and, predictably, “f**k off I’m tying my shoe”. There are many variations (my American and Canadian friends suggested “Time-out”) but the rule is the same regardless of where it is played. When you have pax, you are outside the game. Continue reading “Fool’s Mate – Language and storytelling in games”

Once Upon A Click – Hypertext and new ways of reading

IMPORTANT: this post is made like a game, assuming complete interactivity. In order to read properly please use the links (highlighted in orange). Or you could just read straight through and become very confused…enjoy!

Kaleidoscopic image of paths

Continue reading “Once Upon A Click – Hypertext and new ways of reading”

Text > Image > Text – Reading photographs and words

Text Image Text lead image
Flood wrecks woodland after giant ogre destroys dam…

A picture tells a thousand words. But there are cases where a dozen words can redefine a picture.

In his 1977 publication Image Music Text critic Roland Barthes observed how text can often become parasitical upon images. This happens both in spaces like galleries and exhibitions, where wall-mounted captions can supersede what the eye observes in an art piece, or in printed photograph captions where a description of an image can often clash with what the image actually shows. Barthes‘ theory proposes that the closer text is to an image the less more incorporated it becomes, so with image captions that sit outside an image more can possibly be inferred than by words trapped inside an image.

Although the strength of a good image can outweigh the impact of the text upon it, this does still present words an unbalanced power over images Continue reading “Text > Image > Text – Reading photographs and words”