Everyone should go inside and touch the art…in a cozy jigsaw puzzle

Step into ‘s cozy virtual library Please touch the artwork, there’s something instantly familiar about the paintings in front of me, even if I can’t remember the name of the work, the artist, or any facts about what I’m looking at. But I know I’ve seen blocks, lines, the use of primary colors laid out in front of me. Maybe in an art book at school, or on a field trip to the museum.

I am told these are paintings by Piet Mondrian, or interpretations of them. They have been compiled and turned into a puzzle game by Thomas Waterzooi, a solo developer with a technical background, artist parents, and credits at Larian Studios and IO Interactive. Waterzooi was dropped from IO when he parted ways with Square Enix, after which he set out on his own to create games that were very, very different from Divinity’s narrative adventures or Hitman’s humorous puzzle boxes. Specifically, he wants to create “pacifist” games that explore the “big picture” and “the human condition.” He said something, “culture”.

Something, maybe, like a game where you solve picture puzzles by touching famous pictures.

In a process that Waterzooi describes as “the exact opposite of what a game designer would do,” the creation of Please Touch the Artwork came as a delightful coincidence. At one point between tinkering with different game ideas, Waterzooi was also reading a book called “What Are You Looking At” by Will Gompertz. It’s about the origins of modern art, and abstract and supremacist movements are particularly fascinating to read.

One night, when Waterzooi couldn’t sleep, he decided to make a “Mondrian generator” just for fun – a simple program that would generate a picture based on the set of rules Piet Mondrian applied to the piece. his, which he calls “De Stijl” (“Style”). So: three primary colors, three primary colors (black, white, and gray) and two primary directions (horizontal and vertical). It is a familiar look, one that is ingrained in the cultural perception of even those who are not art experts.

Please touch Official Screenshot of Artwork

Waterzooi successfully built its Mondrian generator and over time began to develop it by adding interactive elements. For example, by tapping a square on a picture, the color of all the squares that touch that shape will change. Thus was born the master craftsman for the first of three games in Please Touch the Artwork. He developed it further over the years taking his first game to various festivals and shows, eventually adding two more to the game inspired by Mondrian’s paintings, Broadway Boogie Woogie and New York City.

And he added stories for all three, with New York City’s story inspired by his own experience in a distant relationship while working for IO. De Stijl’s story offers a small lesson in art history and the supposed rivalry between Mondrian and his friend and artist Theo van Doesburg, with controversies between two people about how the player is wondering how to compose.

While there is certainly a layer of art history in Please Touch the Artwork, it would be a mistake to think of this through the unfortunate lens many kids (including me) have grown up with, which is art. , art history and museums are boring and dry by necessity. Please Touch the Artwork is a game full of spirit, with puzzles that remind me of the Witness but without the intense frustration and lack of guidance. It’s mellow and open-ended, but also hilarious and, importantly, very excited about the art it showed me.

The joy is in approaching these paintings with just enough context and theory not to spoil it. Like a trailer for a movie.

That’s part of the goal, Waterzooi told me. He firmly believes that art should be accessible to all: widely available, understandable and accessible. Even with the element of art history present in Please Touch the Artwork, Waterzooi said he made a point not to research so much that he came across as conceited or overly complicated.

“I just wanted to go deep enough to approach art like a normal person without having extensive knowledge of art,” he said. “The joy is in approaching these paintings with just enough context and theory not to spoil it. Like a trailer for a movie. Play my game, then go to the museum if you like it. ”

“… I want to express that art is much more accessible than what industry makes. You can take artwork, rotate it, combine it and make it your own. Don’t keep it in the tall spheres. Bring it down. Let’s bring it to everyone. ”

He hopes Please Touch the Artwork will encourage audiences to be more interested in art culture. He suggests, for example, that children will play it with their parents, or that those who do not have easy access to galleries or museums may enjoy it. Or perhaps those who have that access, but have not yet taken advantage of the museums near them, may feel inspired to do so.

Waterzooi also wanted to show his audience that art is messy and must be explained, including the interpretations he offers in Please Touch the Artwork.

Some people think that art itself is always a positive word, but that is not true. There is good art and there is bad art.

“You can accept that some art is bullshit,” he said. “That’s right! Some people think that art in itself is always a positive word, but it’s actually not true. There is good art and there is bad art… according to the public opinion one might say “This is the “art”, but should not, imply that it is necessarily good. It is just a work created by an artist who wants to express his or her inner ideas or struggles with one. Whether that’s good or not, that’s completely subjective.”

With Please Touch the Artwork already out in the world, Waterzooi is far from doing so with art-based video games. He wanted to add an infinite zen mode that would generate procedural painting puzzles for players to solve for as long as they wanted. And he’s working on a piece of real-life art based on the game, which includes both versions of the De Stijl puzzle that can be played by tapping on the actual canvas, as well as other interactive elements. which he cuts from the game itself.

And he didn’t stop there. Waterzooi wants to make more games like this, with more artists. He already had a few things in mind that he was thinking of exploring: Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich. If those names aren’t familiar, don’t worry. Waterzooi wants to help fix that.

“I can only hope that others want to join me in this, maybe each painting a different picture,” Waterzooi said. “It could be the smaller games, but just more games that always have the general theme of relaxation, no skill, no time pressure… That’s what’s coming,” healthy “sometimes called… That is my design philosophy.”

Rebekah Valentine is an IGN news reporter. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.

https://www.ign.com/articles/go-inside-touch-art-please-touch-the-artwork-cozy-puzzle Everyone should go inside and touch the art…in a cozy jigsaw puzzle

Fry Electronics Team

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