Space is the Place

Yesterday was a big moment for this blog: the finally moved into a physical storefront of its own: (click that link ans subscribe now!) 🙂

bava storefront

I’m not sure what exactly is, or will be, but I do know it’s a direct, physical outgrowth of everything I’ve done on this blog for almost two decades. I can try to wax poetic about virtual versus physical space, or even theorize shifting notions of community as traditional brick and mortar commercial enterprises give way to virtual businesses, that are beginning to change our understanding of online communities (Facebook, Instagram, anyone?).*

With the rise of vacant storefronts in Trento after the pandemic was in full swing, I started thinking about finding a space given how much fun and generative that was in Fredericksburg, and the resulting Reclaim Arcade. But I also knew this time I wanted to do what Lloyd Dobbler would do (WWLDD?) and not “sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed…”

In other words, how to create a space not focused on buying and selling, but building a sense of community around media elements of our past, present, and future. In Italy you can create something akin to a cultural organization, which is what I am currently looking into, so more details to follow on that point.

Empty bava studio (view from front of office)

But as of now we do have a space, and as of yesterday it went from entirely empty to half-full:

Getting settled

Which was really exciting, and as a few people have already commented, the floor is absolutely amazing: it really ties the room together. In fact, I brought over the eight cabinets that were in my foyer, and while that cleaned out my house, it filled up half the space pretty quickly!

Morning's Work to Move

Empty Foyer

The first game in was Donkey Kong Jr., which made it seem like there would be plenty of room:

Donkey Kong Jr. First In

But once we got the remaining 7 cabinets in, as well as a work table, about one-third to half the space was already accounted for.

Settling in view from back of spaceI still have more space to play with, and today I’m going to see how many games I can get in comfortably, leaving room for moving things around and workshopping the exhibit window (more on the proscenium shortly), but given this is not necessarily going to be an arcade, I won’t need to worry about making room for all of them anyway.

Back of bava studio

As you can see from the image above, the front part of the space is somewhat cordoned off by the games, and I have the work table with the Windows 98 machine up against one wall. I am thinking the Windows 98 setup might be one of the next months exhibits as I play around with it during a hopefully slower end of December.

Make shift Windows 98 Working Desk

The front part of the studio has a corner of five games, two on the right wall, Joust and Defender, and three cutting across the center of the space: Dig Dug, Super Cobra, and Elevator Action.

Front room cordoned off by games

Finally, I have Pac-man, Donkey Kong Jr., and Galaxian as the first proto-exhibit in front of the proscenium window. This is kind of a happy marriage between bavacade and, and the thing that was convenient is putting three mint, authentic late 70s, early 80s arcade cabinets in front of the store window is enough of a display all by itself.

Window Exhibition Line-up

Exhibition Window #001: Pac-man, Dinkey Kong Jr, and Galaxian

In fact, yesterday had its first visitor, Giulia, who saw the space and couldn’t resist entering—which is a good sign. Giulia asked me a very difficult question yesterday, namely, “What is this space?” To which I retorted, “Well, it’s kind of a website, but physical….think of it as a laboratory, a studio, a creative space, a community space, blah blah blah.” Fact is, I’m not entirely sure yet, and I want to see it come into its own somewhat organically.

First Quest: Guilia

I had Guilia pose looking at the games in the window to get a sense of the scale of the proscenium, and it will work pretty well, I just need to create a kind of fake wall that stands behind it that I can decorate, and re-decorate depending on what’s “showing.”

Guilia in the Exhibit Window

The rough idea is to try and change out the window every month or so with a different peek inside some piece of bavatuesdays’s cultural media brain. So, in the end, I guess we’ll see what comes of it, but so far it feels pretty right—I guess I just needed some space!


* The conflation of social networks and commerce has been happening for a long while, but it seems to have gotten to a tipping point wherein online social spaces are far more commercial than communal, leaving the social evermore dictated by buying and selling—-so like cities, fewer community centers and far more chain storefronts.

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14 Responses to Space is the Place

  1. Tim Stahmer says:

    Is Trento ready for your kind of… shall we call it “unique” vision? 🙂

    Always look forward to the next chapter in your journey, Jim. And to maybe, someday, visiting the physical space that is now and playing on the Dig Dug machine.

  2. Eric Likness says:

    It’s like Andy Warhol’s “Factory” but without the aluminum foil, drug addiction, and criminal element. ?It’s one part lab, one part studio. Heck, It’s Bava Labs-Trento Station (like some Department of Energy weapons joint). Just keep on spit-ballin’. And I will leave you with my hand transcribed longer version of Lloyd Dobbler’s dialogue from “Say Anything”.
    James Court (Diane’s father): What are your plans for the future?
    Lloyd: Spend as much time as possible with Diane before she leaves.
    James: Seriously Lloyd
    Lloyd: I’m totally and completely serious.
    James: No really.
    Lloyd: You mean a career? Umm, I don’t know.(ahem) I’ve thought about this quite a bit sir. And I would have to say, considering what’s out there waiting for me.

    “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”

    So ah, my father’s in the Army. He wants me to join. But, ah, I can’t work for that corporation. Um, so what I’ve been doing lately is Kick-Boxing.

    (Scans the dining table where Diane’s family is seated, staring back with concern, Lloyd looks back, more nervous than ever).
    Which is a, uh new sport. But I think it’s got a good future. As far as career longevity, I don’t really know, because y’know because you can’t really tell. Eight and six as a fighter, ya’ know it’s no good. You have to be great. I can’t really tell if I’m great until I’ve had a couple pro fights. I haven’t been knocked down yet. I dunno, I can’t figure it out all tonight sir. I’m just gonna hang out with your daughter.

  3. Maren Deepwell says:

    I love it. Please post some pictures of the bakery nearby. I feel that’s a key feature 😉

    Thinking of the window display, I was envisaging that as a table design rather than a wall, so that there’s light and a chance to peek in. There’s a lot of artists’ studios you can look into… just a thought.

    Can’t wait to see it lit up in neon.

    • Reverend says:

      So, you think the full floor to ceiling exposition space is a bit too much? I am try to think of some way to cordon it off to be a life size slice of a stage, and pictures of Cirilli Pugliese bakery forthcoming 🙂

  4. I love it and need to visit. I’ll tell you what would also look awesome in that space – a vinyl listening lounge ?

    • Jim Groom says:

      Interesting you say this, because my daughter mapped out an alcove in the back with a book shelve, couch and poltrona (Italian for plush chair) that would be a perfect vinyl listening space, and in the center part there is room for a make shift living room, should one be interested 🙂

  5. MBS says:

    Ok. I’ve got one we have to figure out. We need to fill the window with a projection of a game of Tetris (or any game actually) which could be played from their phone outside. Also, anyone that is playing the game remotely will see it displayed.

    Second can we build a Pepper’s ghost box of Dr. Oblivion’s head floating in space. Of course you will be able to ask it questions and it will respond. This bot will need to be cranky fortune teller though, a lot less interested in media.

    • JIm Groo says:

      I have to say this Tetris idea is brilliant. Maybe you are an artist in residence and you help me build it? How sick would that be, seeing the Italians play your Tetris 🙂

      In terms of the Pepper’s ghost box, all I can say is bring me the head of Brian Oblivion 🙂

  6. Like many others, I love that floor. There has to be some human chequerboard shenanigans at some point please. I also like Maren’s point about being able to see in. To work as communal cultural space I think it has to be inviting. A closed in exhibit space maybe still has too much of a commercial vibe?
    Though I *love* the playable game idea from MBS, which probably necessitates that kind of staging. So what do I know?
    Can visitors contribute to the space as well as play?

    • Jim Groom says:

      I am thinking that we will have community involvement both broadly and locally, and the exhibit window being the palce where all that happens. The games right now are pretty furniture and fun wall breaks, but the idea is to have the space open to for folks a couple of times a month as a kind of festive Saturday for game play, exhibitions, and maybe a demonstration of a particular kind of media (the laserdisc, etc). Anyway, that piece still needs to be run through a few channels to go live, but having the space right now fills me with a sense of possibility that I had been missing for all the years the work was hidden away in the basement.

      • You’re a total space man, and a community builder junkie, and I am here for it.

        I wonder what the Italian version of an 80s living room was like? Being European I suspect more primary colours, much less brown.

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