Yesterday was a big moment for this blog: the bava.blog finally moved into a physical storefront of its own: bava.studio (click that link ans subscribe now!) 🙂
I’m not sure what exactly bava.studio 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.
But as of now we do have a space, and as of yesterday it went from entirely empty to half-full:
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!
The first game in was Donkey Kong Jr., which made it seem like there would be plenty of room:
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.
I 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.
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.
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.
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 bava.studio, 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.
In fact, yesterday bava.studio 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.
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.”
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.