don't view this on your iphone, just don't


Lap Le

Co-founder/Editor @ WOW HUH
Designer-in-Residence @ Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, VA

What we have in Dungeons and Dragons is a system whereby the whole of individual agency is reduced to a human matrix that consists of 6 essential traits. Traditionally these can be categorized into physical traits and mental traits. STR DEX CON falling into the former and INT WIS CHA into the latter. This binary works nicely, but is perhaps too general for us to get into the implications of the traits themselves. More avid theorists attest to three categories: Body, mind, and soul. STR CON belonging the body-traits. DEX INT to the mind-traits. And WIS CHA to the soul-traits. The benefit of this model is that the admission of a soul brings about a metaphysical dimension to the make-up of a person. Which is appropriate, if not necessary. There is some slippage in this model however. For instance, that dexterity is not also a body trait, or that wisdom is not somehow a part of the mind-traits, is problematic to me.

A third model exists, one that doesn’t necessarily categorize the traits, but puts them in relationship to each other. It is as follows:

STR = CHA (force of body, force of mind)
DEX = INT (agility of body, agility of mind)
CON = WIS (resilience of body, resilience of mind)

This approach still yields a mind body binary, but the dynamics between the traits is foregrounded over their definitions. What this model lacks is the metaphysical dimension, or soul. Included I believe it would look something like this:

STR - CHA - CON (force of body, force of mind, force of soul)
DEX - INT - CHA (agility of body, agility of mind, agility of soul)
CON - WIS - XXX (resilience of body, resilience of mind, resilience of soul)

Noteably, this model lacks a trait that can fully reflect the resilience of the soul. Such a thing would come somewhere near a more contemporary rpg trait--MIT--but including that would dilute the purity of this exercise. As it is, I am fully comfortable leaving that last trait as some unknown variable.

anything dis-synchronous with my timeline/beliefs is potential evidence of an actual time travel event.

                  ^as delusional as that is...

To the right is a diagram representing the technical thrust of my work. Together the three core circles should be seen more as focuses, rather than themes or specifically content. They can be understood as discrete subjects that inform my research. Any two overlapping results in methodological focuses. While the overlap of all three results in the prime directive of my body of work.

The disappearance of the tool is a method to render modes of construction oblique in the hopes that such a thing would stall the viewers’ systems of interpretation. It can be seen as optical camouflage that makes the mind second-guess what it is seeing. More directly, abstraction achieves a similar effect. This hiccup in the mind is essential to preparing it for more figurative modes of communication and expression.

Diagram of Focus

There was a particularly beautiful episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the crew of the Enterprise run into an advance species called the Children of Tama, or the Tamarians. Everything starts peacefully enough, the two parties effectively act as ambassadors for their species and open up conversation. Very quickly we find that the Tamarians seem to speak in riddles.

In actuality it turns out that their language runs on a completely different logic than our own. They speak purely in allegory, in reference to symbolic contexts. They speak by describing images made significant through their experience and history as a species. It supposes a language that would take orders of magnitude of computing power and database to understand (imagine a dictionary that requires full narratives and video for every entry). Yet, it is also a language that not only invites interpretation, but necessitates it.

This structure reflects what I consider to be Embedded Narratives. Narratives that are programmed into form that exists within a matrix of cultural context. For instance, mythology, in the classical sense, is what I consider to be an embedded narrative. Or the Tammarian language. One aspect of the Thing (their language) transmitting, in both idiom and syntax, the entire worldview of the Thing (their history and logic).

it takes courage to find forms of representation that are not culturally understood... form and content are inextricably linked, and they represent your value system as a designer. --elliott earls

It makes sense to me that things are simultaneously real and not real. Or are real, but only by saying it is. Knowing, perhaps as well. If work is indeed completed (created) in the mind of the viewer, of which the creator is a part of, then it follows that reality should not be some reliable thing, but itself a question.

The diagram below is the conceptual terrain of my work thus far. Similar to the diagram of foci, the overlapping areas yield increasingly important forces. You can also see where the work situates itself on this topology. Form remains an overarching and constant concern.

tadanori yokoo is the greatest designer of all time. --lap le

i talk about the gods, i am an atheist. but i am an artist too, and therefore a liar. distrust everything i say. i am telling the truth. the only truth i can understand or express is, logically defined, a lie. psychologically defined, a symbol. aesthetically defined, a metaphor. --ursula le guin, the left hand of darkness

Categories, labels, words, names, when functioning properly open up ideas rather than close them in or shut them down. When good they expand upon the capacity of existing knowledge. When bad they diminish it. The same can be said of influence or history. Below is my critical take of what has influenced me most.

If form is content, and content is form, then let us not speak these words ever again in this context. Henceforth I will consider form to be the thing itself, whole and without qualification. That established, I believe my work contends with two types of form. Representational form and graphic form. Or respectively the idiom of the image as it represents the natural world and the idiom of the image as it represents the mathematical intepretation of that world.

Abstraction and obfuscation are integral to my practice. It is not enough to make things strange or familiar, as the cliche goes, but you must attempt to make the mind believe in two things at once. To create cognitive dissonance in the mind is the thing itself. As in the mirror there is the object, then so must the object inhabit the mirror. Then so must there also be the nature of reflection itself. The idiom you create for your work is this nature, and it is the better part of the work.

representational form as graphic form. graphic form as representational form.representational form as graphic form. graphic form as representational form.representational form as graphic form. graphic form as representational form.representational form as graphic form. graphic form as representational form.