Wayfinding Memory is the first project of the Minecraft-based NUBE Artist-Run Centre and features work from Toronto-based artists Erin Leslie and Marie Sotto. The works explore memory through space, text and interactivity, family and the process of remembrance, using in-game materials and biomes to reflect on diaspora.
In Anamnesis, Erin Leslie uses environmental storytelling to invite the audience to reflect on how childhood memories and experiences can “shape our perspective of challenges we face in the present.” Taking inspiration from nonlinear role-playing games, the player navigates a series of large-scale labyrinth environments and solves puzzles in order to progress.
An invisible narrator accompanies us on our journey through narrative text, acting as the creator of a world that was meant to be visited long after being made. As one explores sometimes dark, claustrophobic or spectacular surroundings, the narrator prompts the audience to reflect on the very challenges faced inside the game by asking questions and prompting ideas.
Marie Sotto’s Palagi is transportative. Their use of the rainforest biome to represent the Philippines is aptly paired. Albeit made of pixels, it triggers memories of birds chattering,fallen tree trunks, and the gaze of creatures hidden in the brush. In Sotto’s artist statement they describe their project as “dreamlike.” To travel through this dreamscape you must surrender to the intimacy of memory and reverence as this world unfurls itself.
The journey through Palagi feels familiar, as though the viewer is being welcomed into a family or home, not quite theirs. This journey doesn’t have to be solitary, the player is joined by words written in Filipino, that should tagalog not be their first language, the translation is theirs to find. Whether rowing through water, collecting of revered objects or lanterns that light the way, this project plays like a guided meditation.
As the piece concludes, one ultimately looks out on an icy tundra one has spawned into. Questions of memory, dreams and lived experience emerge. The room's isolation highlights how diasporic communities pale when set against the reality of past homes and lives.
What is most appealing about these projects is how their intention is not to cater to the audience. By being challenged to solve problems and ask questions, and being excluded from understanding another’s native tongue, the audience is allowed autonomy. Tasks are handed to the viewer from an omnipresent character never met or understood. In these worlds one navigates from the POV of a main character, performing actions and offerings both imperative to the projects and inconclusive. Both Leslie and Sotto deliver gaming experiences that spark curiosity and reignite play. They are altogether cheeky, honest, and refreshing.
About the works & video tours
By Erin Leslie
Anamnesis is a short, non-linear narrative experience that alludes to my passion for the concept and design of video games. I love the interactivity of games; there is a unique value in allowing the player to choose actions that will impact the outcome of the story they are taking in. I touch on the theme of recovering lost memories and how past experiences, especially those of our childhood, can shape our perspective of challenges we face in the present. I also am fascinated by the concept of an invisible narrator, the creator of a world designed in the past, who intended for their creation to be discovered by a visitor in the distant future.
By Marie Sotto
We live in a time of overwhelming destruction. As a response to the disasters that have swept the artist’s ancestral lands of the Philippines in recent years, this project is a re-creation of the artist’s grandparents' homes by memory. Simultaneous and multiple disasters threaten to erase these homes and landscapes completely. Digital realms offer permanence and possibility. ‘Palagi’ is a small adventure game immersing players in a dreamlike realm. Palagi meaning ‘always’ is an expression of a longing to connect to a distant homeland as a diasporic artist. Reflecting fragments of memory, Palagi attempts to preserve a home envisioned as an amalgamation of lands, places and spaces that face erasure in the real world. As tragedies arise in the uncertainty of the future, Palagi imagines a place where these homes will live on, always.
About the residents
Marie Sotto is a Filipinx Futurist, Art Witch and Storyteller. A visual artist, Marie has previously exhibited work at Artscape Youngplace, The Gladstone Hotel and The Harbourfront Center. Through digital storytelling and emerging technologies, Marie intimately explores meanings of home, community, kinship and resilience in this time. Inspired by her culture and energized by community, Marie strives to build a just and loving future for future ancestors.
Erin Leslie is a digital artist and aspiring game designer with a passion for both 2D and 3D mediums.
She is also a professional custom framer who loves video games, her two cats and geeking out about dinosaurs.
This project was made possible with support from EQ Bank.
This project is brought to you by NUBE Artist Run Centre, a project by Colectivo Satelital.
Colectivo Satelital members and NUBE residency artists are based in Tkaronto, which is traditional indigenous land of the Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississaugas of the Credit, Annishinaabe and the Chippewa peoples. As we are currently gathering virtually on Twitch and Minecraft, we would like to invite folks to think of digital spaces as platforms that can challenge colonial and national borders as they exist today, allowing us to create and envision new worlds outside of white supremacy.