Marie LeBlanc Flanagan is an artist working in the playful spaces between people, especially related to connection and community. Marie builds experimental video games, playful installations, and cooperative experiences and has an enduring fondness for the possibilities of trash.
Marie co-founded Wyrd Arts Initiatives; founded Drone Day; served as the editor-in-chief of Weird Canada; co-founded Imaginary Residency, an artist-run online residency; co-founded Toronto Games Week; and co-organizes GAIA.
Marie has worked with Wizard Zines, A MAZE. Berlin International Games and Playful Media Festival, The Processing Foundation, The School of Machines, Making, and Make-Believe, Ada x, Daily Tous Les Jours, and Game Arts International Network.
In the playful year of 2024: I made the best game game I ever made: take a string with two ends. Each person takes one end. We each can let go, or not. ☀ I travelled to Kitchener to run a weekend-long playful session with Liane Decary-Chen Isabella Stefanescu Paloma Dawkins Fili 周 Gibbons and Brian Cullen and more. We did playful experiments with sound, 3d scans and play.
In the delicious year of 2023: I did an artist residency at the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University with a field trip to NYC and created Grow Still game-poem with Heather Kelley and other collaborators that we showed at LIKELIKE. ☀ I co-founded Toronto Games Week, a celebration of playable arts and culture organized with local games enthusiasts and community organizers and Jim Munroe ☀ I helped with research and design of Other Market with the Liveness Research group, designing participatory/game experiences allowing for agency and emergent play. ☀ I co-organized the GAIA Symposium, an international think tank and network for the professional development of the game arts community: aimed at curators, producers, event organizers and academics. ☀ I spoke virtually at A MAZE. Berlin, and steered a real avatar (Gereon) around the exhibition while together exploring body-lending and consent. ☀ I researched, wrote, and illustrated If you don't like the game, change the rules with extensive research support from Michael Iantorno, a surprisingly controversial comic about co-ops, unions, and work in the games industry (not everyone loves unions). ☀ I started a "Montreal Cultural Calendar" group and calendar and may have thereby magically built myself a community. ☀ I co-organized Virtual Creative Code Fest (CC Fest), a free & friendly event for anyone curious about creative code with workshops on pixel art, music, color, and arduino with Saber Khan ☀ I made music! Mostly with voice, found sounds, guitar, synth and Frank's LinnDrum, and also with something that measures seismic vibrations. ☀ I learned how to use the laser-cutter (better) and embroidery machine at the local makerspace. ☀ I continue to serve on the Eastern Bloc programming commitee. ☀ I travelled to Mexico City for OASIS CENART in Ciudad de Mexico (thanks to the Canadian Embassy and SAE Institute Mexico) and gave two artist talks about my work and research into work and play. ☀ I travelled to Halifax to host a collaborative zine-making workshop and Artist Panel x Labour Rights with Eyelevel Gallery, and to Lunenburg to scheme new collaborations with Cat Bluemke and Jonathan Carroll of SpekWork Studio. ☀ I helped Julia Evans make memory spy where you can see the actual bytes used to represent your variables! ☀ I did a comic and whitepaper launch in Montreal at 4th Space. ☀ I worked with onesosalove and Navild Acosta on an upcoming project. ☀ I paired with Julia Evans to create How Integers and Floats Work, where we explore the weird ways your computer does math, like how 0.1 + 0.2 somehow is equals 0.30000000000000004? ☀ I had some big personal life changes and I didn't die. ☀ I grew peas and peppers but the squirrels ate all my tomatoes as always, just one bite and they toss them. ☀ We celebrated the 9th annual Drone Day. ☀ I drew hundreds of creatures. ☀ I adventured into a DIY citizen science retreat in Muskoka with Lee Cyborg, Hillary Predko, Nadine, Kamal, Julia, Dave, and company. ☀ I travelled to Oakland, Point Arena, and Los Angeles where I made zines, animation flipbooks, and started an eclipse whale game with Cabbibo and Pen Ward. I travelled to Vancouver to speak at Creative Campfire '23 about the work of making games and make make new friends. ☀ I travelled to Taiwan for the first time in my life for Women and Nonbinary Protagonists to talk about tools for care and sustainabilityand host a comic launch at nowhere and meet the beautiful people at Team9. I swam in a waterfall! I went in the hot springs! Thanks to the wonderful Allison Yang and the Goethe-Institute Taipei for a beautiful time! ☀ I travelled on to Tokyo for a comic launch with https://www.thenomi.org/ at GAEMZ at Asobu. And onwards to Kyoto for a comic launch at Fablab Kyoto thanks to Zack Wood and Mariko Sugita. ☀ I gallivanted around Kyoto and Tokyo with naoto hieda, Kaho Abe, and Pen Ward. ☀ I leapt and skipped and danced so high that I limped for days. A street photographer got it too! It was very much worth it. ☀ I invented a game where we each make and pass a sound to the next person. ☀ I made sounds with Fili, Paloma, and nucci . I returned to Canada and threw a new years gathering with mostly new friends. (Montreal, Toronto, New York, Pittsburgh, Mexico City, Point Arena, Lunenburg, Los Angeles, Taiwan, Tokyo)
In the transformative year of 2022: I did a residency at the Société des arts technologiques Metalab and made ComeWithMe, a game exploring connection and the spaces between people (I wrote a blog post about getting stuck along the way). ☀ I created Tender Circuits, a web experience documenting the work of artists exploring the concept of connection and fungal intelligence through participating in AR app development for Digital Arts Resource Centre (DARC). ☀ I co-created the game Song of the Soil with Dirtpunk (Henry Driver, Rebecka Pettersson, Ashley Cho, and Sacha Holsnyder) about microbes and fungus and the beauty of soil for IndieCade's Climate Jam, and we won the Most Adventurous/Innovative award ☀ I created The Pocket Guide to Debugging with Julia Evans, a zine that helps you find your way through the trickiest computer bugs. ☀ I taught A hands-on guide to making personal games again with Bahiyya Khan, and Lorenzo Pilia at the The School of Machines, Making, and Make-Believe, ☀ I worked with Leslie Ting to create What Brings You In, an interactive online show with music, live narration, guest voices, and playful interactions. ☀ I worked with adelheid on You are swimming here, an AR exploration of the human and natural histories that exist in our shared spaces. ☀ We celebrated the 8th annual Drone Day, and I organized the first ever Drone Jam, where we made experimental games, toys, or playful things related to the idea of sustained tones (drone games). ☀ I worked with TruLuv on Design for #SelfCare, incorporating rituals to deepen care, compassion, and connection. ☀ I co-organized Virtual Creative Code Fest (CC Fest), a free & friendly event for anyone curious about creative code with workshops on pixel art, music, color, and arduino with Saber Khan ☀ I hosted some ai / ethics / being here now playsessions where we tried out new AI tools and talked about what it means for us. ☀ I co-organized with Ada X, and InterAccess Ctrl+Shift: Data Sovereignty & Community Action, conversations about listening, inquiring, contemplating, and consent-building in the age of digital giants. ☀ I hosted conversations with Grace Scheele: not yr angel bby harpist, Viktorija Kovac: Theatre of Heartbreak(s), Sam Mercury: mixed(er), Andrew Jacob Rinehart: Searching for Stillness through Radical Play, Kate Kamo McHugh: Seeds of Reclamation, and Lauren Prousky: When we speak at the same time, we speak the same language, in the X-Camera series to discuss their artistic practice. ☀ I continued to serve on the Eastern Bloc programming commitee. ☀ I organized a series of workshops called "playsessions" on making experimental games, including Concentric Fictions with Dhruv Jani, exploring magical realism, experimentation, and nonsense verse; Weird Theatre Games, a workshop about transforming emotionally challenging situations into one-of-a-kind awkward theatre games with D. Squinkifer, Making It Work: Tools & Modes for Interactive Experiences, a workshop about designing playful interactive experiences with Jess Rowan Marcotte, and Create your own biomorphic world in Blender with Shonee. ☀ I created a series of sessions on funding games, including How to Finance Your Game without Going into Debt, a workshop about financing games for small indie game studios with Meagan Byrne, Fund! Your! Game! with Kim Gibson from Ontario Creates, Fund! Your! Game! with Megan Leduc from Canada Council for the Arts, and Fund! Your! Game! with Mark and Zhe from Ontario Arts Council. ☀ At the close of the COVE/COVOX project (where a group of artists worked together to unearth new ways of connecting with audiences using technologies; invest in local arts succession, and create and present six interdisciplinary performances) I created a 64-page zine documenting the entire project. ☀ I created a playful site exploring the idea of digital audience engagement, based on the mood-ring project. ☀ I did research on the TouchingYou project, exploring softness, touch and connection grounding “knowledge” in lived experience, somatics, and play. ☀ I spoke at Festival Octobre Numérique Faire Monde in Arles and led a A Kind Of Play workshop on making experimental games. I spoke in Barcelona about my practice with Luca Carrubba of ARSGAMES at BAU College of Arts and Design of Barcelona. (Edmonton, Toronto, Arles, Barcelona, Berlin, Kitchener, Montreal)
In the generative year of 2021: ☀ I created Soft Sanctuary for Proyecto Bios in Argentina, a peaceful web space for slow connection, through interactive question prompt, 3D sculptures, and soft sounds with the support of the Canadian Embassy. ☀ I co-organized the Game Arts International Assembly (GAIA) Online, a 9-session online conference event for 150+ game curators around the world, focused on interconnecting existing game arts organizations and nurturing new structures in emerging regions. Check out the visual notes! ☀ I made a online playground called Mess With DNS with Julia Evans, a resource to learn about Domain Name Systems through playful experiments. ☀ I ran HYPO//HYPER PRESENCE N˚ 1: FILTERS, an Augmented Realities workshop at the Milieux Institute. ☀ I moderated and hosted AI The End, a conversation with Gina Hara at Ada X. ☀ I co-ran an edition of the Imaginary Residency (March 6th-April 10th) with Robert Foss, Nick Morrison, Sagan Yee , Kofi Oduro, Marie Dahlén, eryn, Jack, Jay Palmer, Xin Xin and Liane Décary-Chen. ☀ I co-led the Tech Tech Tech project exploring alternatives to the Tech Giants with Ada x in Montreal, which included deep research, interviews, a 4-part workshop with co-researchers exploring alternatives for office tools, social media, online gatherings, portfolios, performances & exhibitions. At the end I wrote and pubished two zines: Living in the time of tech giants and Finding our way. ☀ I worked with Long Winter, on customization and extensions of a virtual platform. ☀ I created a zine about How DNS Works, all about how your computer knows where to go when you type in a web address, with Julia Evans. ☀ I created a feedback site with Julia Evans for Wizard Zines, which allows us to get useful feedback on zines as we are writing them by allowing people to click and give feedback anywhere on the page, as well as dividing feedback into categories like "I'm confused" or "I love this". ☀ I worked with Gros Morne Summer Music (GMSM) to create Mummer’s Journey, a virtual, 3D immersive version of the community of Woody Point, as well as an online interactive advent calendar experience. ☀ I co-ran another edition of the Imaginary Residency, an open-source collaborative artist residency from (March 6th -April 10th) with Paloma Dawkins, Ethan Muller, Cabbibo, and nathalie lawhead. ☀ I taught a series of sold-out classes on how to make your own website with html and css. ☀ I co-hosted a series of events called "Tiny Conversations" about topics like participatory art (Marie, Eryn, Kofi, Ida, Jay, Edith); arts communities (Raph, Ida, Toph, J, Marie, Edith). ☀ I ran a series of events called Playful Questions with GAIN, a monthly discussion series with video game curators and intermediaries around the world. ☀ Led sessions and participated in the NUMUNS Feminist Technology Playground, exploring ideas and tech with feminists from all over the world ☀ With alumni from the Imaginary Residency, we ran a a special collaborative session and created We Dance with Space Owl, an exploration of movement mapping and light. ☀ I worked with Leslie Ting to create Speculation, a theatrical concert with an immersive visual design based on the experience of vision loss. ☀ I made my very own social media, called Friend News, which was a weekly newspaper with maximum one "article" per friend, and a special guest column from a friend of a friend. ☀ I wrote and never shared "Dimensions of Online Spaces", because I couldn't find funding or space to finish developing the ideas. ☀ I ran a series of workshops on interactivity, experience, and ritual for Escapism with Avita Maheen, Téa Boyarchuk, Sol Martínez Solé, and Izdihar Afyouni with Oyoun - Kultur NeuDenken. ☀ I contributed my thoughts to Offer Need Machine, part of Artengine’s Digital Economies Lab’s objective to interrogate issues around precariousness in the creative community. ☀ I gave a talk for the at Die Gute Fabrik Practice Sessions. ☀ I worked with the LIVENESS Research Group exploring the intersections of liveness, game structures and rules, and the digital. ☀ I co-led machine learning workshops with GenieLab. ☀ I ran the 8th edition of Drone Day, an annual celebration of drone, community, and experimental sounds, and some kids joined in. ☀ I organized an unsucessful event called Parallel park play - a tiny gathering for us to play alongside each other. ☀ I hosted exploratory sessions called NoWorking, an online series of sessions dedicated to not working, and challenging ideas around labour. ☀ I contributed to the Processing Org 20th Anniversary Community Catalog, a community catalog to celebrate 20 years of Processing. ☀ I contributed to the Game Arts Curators Kit, a seventy page handbook for anyone interested in bringing a curatorial eye to the presentation of video games. ☀ I started cross country skiing! ☀ I researched, wrote, and illustrated Isolation Nation with the support of GAIN, the Canada Media Fund, and Ontario Creates, a free resource for tips and tricks culled from 70 Canadian game creators. ☀ To the delight of my mom, I spoke on The Current (CBC) exploring creative ways for people to connect online. ☀ I got really sick but then I got better. ☀ I did a special Iceland residency with Cabbibo, zvhgpyxqtnys, Hayden Dunham, cherry2diamond, Celeste Betancur, and Jack Armitage. ☀ I led a workshop on making games and served as a mentor for Pixelles. ☀ I served on the Inter Arts Matrix: Birthplace of Hybrid Art board. ☀ I served on the Eastern Bloc programming committee. (Online, Montreal, Iceland)
In the unspeakable year of 2020: ☀ I showed my game Closer at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, with thousands of other people who also had no idea that a pandemic was about to hit. I organized an Experimental Gathering. Then the pandemic hit. ☀ I pretty much immediately wrote about what I knew about basic tools for meeting online and and teaching online, because I was getting a lot of requests from people who had never used any tools before and suddenly needed to be experts. ☀ I made Special Guest with a collaborative team of international artists, an experimental marketplace for booking playful guests to improve online meetings (the finisher finishes meetings at all costs, the hype-person supports your ideas, the bard makes a song about your meeting), and an invitation to imagine other ways of gathering. ☀ I made Throne Room, a virtual bathroon for people to collaboratively graffiti and deface at A MAZE. Berlin, and for people to consider what they flush away. ☀ I co-organized Future Tense: Virtual Creative Code Fest (CC Fest), a free & friendly event for anyone curious about creative code with workshops on pixel art, music, color, and arduino with Saber Khan ☀ I made Mood Ring, a dreamy choose-your-own adventure site where you are given a song, with Rachel Weldon, Emily McQuarrie, and Robin Richardson-Dupuis, for Debaser. ☀ I made Neighbourbot, space for short spontaneous connections with neighbours at online events with Julia Evans for !!Con 2020. ☀ I worked with the LIVENESS Research Group on Scaling Liveness in Participatory Experiences ☀ I taught a class, a hands-on guide to making personal games with Bahiyya Khan, and Lorenzo Pilia at the The School of Machines, Making, and Make-Believe, ☀ I led a small gathering for exploring experimental online platforms with Processing Foundation and Naoto Hieda . ☀ I played with arduino and sensors for a while, and also with clay. ☀ I made a collection of playful sound games for Drone Day, inviting people to get intimate, playful, and curious about their relationship to sound. ☀ I did collaborative drawing sessions with Isabella and Nomi. ☀ I did the Softie Feelies (Online) Interdisciplinary Artist Residency. (Online)
In the anticipatory year of 2019: I did an artist residency at the at the NYU Game Center, where I made a number of games with students, faculty, and community members there, including Arcade Friend, Emergency Exhibition Care, and Follow, which I made for the No Quarter Exhibition. ☀ Someday I might write more about this year! (New York, Montreal)