• An exploding piano lies at the heart of Cover Me's abstraction
04.14.14

An exploding piano lies at the heart of Cover Me's abstraction

The aged cracks of a square patch of worn leather reside in the title screen of Cover Me. It could be a cut-off from an old garment, or maybe it belongs to a leather-bound journal. It doesn't matter: the significance of this image is not necessarily the specific function/s of this patch of leather, but it might be in your instinct to interpret it at all. 

Cover Me is a short experimental game created by Interactive Performance Design student Charlotte Madelon. She says her intent is to explore the possibilities and limitations of software, investigating "how objects, things in the world and ourselves are shaped and what values they have." And so Cover Me uses unguided player interaction with in-game items to deconstruct how we perform identities through our interpretation and understanding of these items.

a stunning display that wouldn't look out of place in a suprematist painting. 

An unspoken story follows the transmutation of a person into a performer. At first you embody an unidentified figure, alone, but for the sounds of their own footsteps in an empty backstage area. But soon they'll emerge on stage, under the spotlight, as a renowned pianist. In between these two physical spaces—the backstage area and the limelight—you move through abstract worlds representative of the central liminal process.

The first of these worlds is reminiscent of an artist's impression of a graphic designer's mind—it's all grids and lines. Here, you must draw a grand piano, a rug, an easel, a clock, a table, and two wine glasses out from their wireframe impressions and into full-bodied objects. They only exist when you beckon them; these are the lavish items that shape yourself and therefore your performance. Next, you appear in the center of your own tiny planet, and move the objects you just called upon towards a beam of light, filtering them into a single, unifying channel—perhaps this is representative of your stringent utilization of each item.

Lastly, you move your floating presence through each object, exploding them into tiny fragments. You atomize them in a stunning display that wouldn't look out of place in a suprematist painting. With that done, you then appear on stage, finally taking the form of a performer, coagulating from the shattered fragments that you just created. The objects are no longer individual entities; they are all you, your body, in this new identity.

That may seem conclusive. But as the camera tracks out from the stage, a haunting song repeats the words, "What is your name? / What do you know?" It suggests that, though you may be whole, your identity is transitive and not of your true self. Indeed, you appear as a husk composed of borrowed particles.

That the game returns to the title screen upon finishing, waiting for you to play again, reminds us of the repetitive nature of performances on-stage, in videogames, and every time we step outside, therefore exposing their artificiality.

Cover Me is available to play for free in your browser.

Via: Indie Statik