Hops Ahead

The Art of Alternate Histories, Presents, and Futures

September 21–29, 2023
The MIT Trope Tank (14E-316)

Kit Buckley
xtine burrough
Caitlin & Misha
Charles Games
Common Opera
Robert A. Emmons Jr.
Krisztina Gaál & Dániel Herczeg
Derek Ham
Judy Malloy
Mark Marino
Stuart Moulthrop
Sam Ortiz, Cam Perry, Jamie Camera, Caio M. Jiacomini, Oriana, Gem, & Brent Oakes
Morgan Sammut
Mark Sample
Jason Shiga
Joanna Walsh
Nanette Wylde
Robert Yang
Hopscotch-like blocks
The MIT Trope Tank is at 160 Memorial Drive in Building 14, the same building that houses the Hayden Library. The Trope Tank is not inside the library. It is on the third floor in the East Wing.

Thursday Sep 21, 5pm–7pm, OPENING
Friday Sep 21, 12noon–6pm
Saturday & Sunday, Sep 22 & 23, by appointment
Monday–Friday Sep 24–29, 12noon—6pm
for appointments, email hops@tropetank.com

To construct productive new futures, we speculate, simulating important moments in the past and imagining alternate presents. We seek ways to shift our perspectives and to provoke our imagination, not smoothly and continuously but in non-linear leaps.

Hops Ahead showcases interactive work at the intersection of game and art as an homage to the exquisite Rayuela (Hopscotch) by Julio Cortázar, a novel that is celebrating its 60 anniversary this year.

Rayuela, which initially offers a cast of expatriates meeting and dissipating in Paris and then moves to Buenos Aires, is not only an exemplary interactive narrative. It offers the exhibition’s themes: Alternate histories, presents and futures; social connection and disconnection; cultural universals and differences; playful words; and conversation across languages.

The eighteen works in the exhibit appear thanks to artists who responded to an open call and to the hard work of jurors who come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. These multilingual artworks involve the simulation of historical protests, uncanny stories of AI entities, consideration of everyday life, and digital adaptations of works of print literature. Cortázar’s novel is an explicit basis for two of the pieces, while his compatriot Jorge Luis Borges is also manifest. The artworks here are of many forms and include a book, a virtual reality experience, a Bitsy game, Twine games, an RPG, generative poetry, a non-interactive system for juxtaposition, and a hardware object.

Hops Ahead reflects shadows of the past and the turmoil of the times, while it also offers ways to consider seeing and building better tomorrows.

—Clara Fernandez Vara & Nick Montfort

A device with display and buttons
all that summer you could hear a howling, 2019
Kit Buckley
Arduino board and device
Handwashing video still with text
Epic Hand Washing in a Time of Lost Narratives, 2020
xtine burrough, Sabrina Starnaman, and Dale MacDonald
Browser (Interactive video)
A purple piñanta-like object
Infinite Worries Bash, 2020–
Caitlin & Misha
Browser (Babylon.js)
Borges in a vertiginous video still
Robert A. Emmons Jr.
Browser (Interactive video)
A mysterious book cover, human figures, a pentagram
Variations on Coda to Yellow Sky (Im/Perfect Dawn: Repeat), 2020
Common Opera
MacOS / Windows (Unity)
A man’s plaintive face
Svoboda 1945: Liberation, 2021
Charles Games
MacOS / Nintendo Switch / Windows (Unity)
A big-pixel student protest
A Virtual Chain of Solidarity, 2020
Krisztina Gaál & Dániel Herczeg
Browser (Bitsy)
A 3D reenactment of a protest
I AM A MAN, 2017
Derek Ham
A moment of an on-screen poem
The Fabric of Everyday Life, 2020, 2022
Judy Malloy
An initial screen of text / play
Hopping Time, 2022
Mark Marino
Browser (Ink)
Tamales title screen
Tamales: Con Familia, 2020
Sam Ortiz, Cam Perry, Jamie Camera, Caio M. Jiacomini, Oriana, Gem, and Brent Oakes
Browser (Unity)
Scattered texts with hints of Hopscotch
Meccano No. 2 — Maga World, 2022
Stuart Moulthrop
A curious definition of AI
re: definition, 2022
Morgan Sammut
Browser (Twine)
A comic mapping out reading paths
Leviathan, 2022
Jason Shiga
Hardback Two-Color Book
A drawing of a deserted island
10 Lost Boys, 2020
Mark Sample
Browser (Twine)
To SIGN a song that old was sung...
Miss-Communication, 2022
Joanna Walsh
Browser (Twine)
Text describing a random group of people arrested for a random reason
Arrested, 1997, 2012
Nanette Wylde
Browser (Flash ported to HTML/CSS/JavaScript)
A man looking away in a Borgesian scene
Intimate, Infinite, 2014
Robert Yang
Linux / MacOS / Windows (Source)

Thank You, Jurors!

Allen Turner portrait
Allen Turner
Senior Professional Lecturer, DePaul Game Development, Interactive Media
Allison Parrish portrait
Allison Parrish
Arts Professor, NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program
Angela Chang portrait
Angela Chang
Research Affiliate, The MIT Trope Tank
Astrid Ensslin portrait
Astrid Ensslin
Professor, University of Regensburg
Brian Salisbury portrait
Brian Salisbury
Associate Professor, University of Utah Entertainment Arts Engineering
Jacqueline Ashwell portrait
Jacqueline Ashwell
Senior Legislative Affairs Specialist, US National Park Service
Jeff Howard portrait
Jeff Howard
Senior Lecturer, Falmouth University Games Academy
Leonardo Flores portrait
Leonardo Flores
Professor, Appalachian State University Department of English
Liza Daly portrait
Liza Daly
Technologist in Residence, Harvard University Library Innovation Lab
Mara Dionísio portrait
Mara Dionísio
University of Madeira Interactive Media Design
María Cecilia Reyes portrait
María Cecilia Reyes
Colombian Scholar, Artist and Entrepreneur
Ryan Bown portrait
Ryan Bown
Associate Professor, University of Utah Entertainment Arts and Engineering
Samya Brata Roy portrait
Samya Brata Roy
Ph.D. Scholar, School of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur
Scott Rettberg portrait
Scott Rettberg
Professor and Director of the Center for Digital Narrative, University of Bergen
Stuart Moulthrop portrait
Stuart Moulthrop
Distinguished Professor, UW Milwaukee English

Thank You, Volunteers!

This exhibit was produced and staffed entirely by volunteer effort, without any form of institutional support or funding. We owe its success to our dedicated team of volunteers and effusively thank them!
Alberto Angelini aka Albert Figurt — Angela Chang — Ardalan SadeghiKivi — Daniel Villagran — Emilie Zhang — Eva Goldie — Wasalu Jaco aka Lupe Fiasco

Curated & Produced by

Clara Fernandez-Vara
Nick Montfort
The Hops Ahead logo image is by Ardalan SadeghiKivi. We thank Fox Harrell and the Center for Advanced Virtuality for the loan of equipment that made it possible for us to show I AM A MAN. Jessica TranVo of the Literature Section at MIT provided invaluable last-minute help. Thanks also to the organizing committee of the ICIDS 2022 conference! We appreciate the support of ICIDS and ARDIN from our initial conception of the exhibit through the selection of works. The exhibit was originally planned for the ICIDS conference at University of California Santa Cruz in December 2022. We recruited a jury, issued a call for works, and made selections. Unfortunately, the exhibit itself could not take place during the conference for reasons beyond our control. We are delighted to present the exhibit now. Particular thanks to Michael Mateas, the general chair of ICIDS 2022 who invited us to work together as curators and Shi Johnson-Bey, the publicity chair who let the public know about our international jury’s selections.