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Proposal, 2008

Our proposal was to drop the idea of one ‘official’ incarnation of the mascot, and instead create a set of characteristics which can be re-interpreted by a person, manufacturer etc. A mascot has to exist in a variety of media: as a cartoon, a 3D videogame character, a stuffed animal, a wind-up plastic toy. Many of these different incarnations are regarded less faithful representations of an artist’s original drawing on paper, even more so when we move away from the officially sanctioned merchandise and into fake products and children’s interpretations of the first drawing. We wanted this mascot to embrace what gets lost in translation, and to validate all its possible permutations as equally legitimate incarnations of the mascot. The idea was inspired by two pre-existing personas: Firstly, Mario, a well known computer games character, and secondly, the character Aviva from Todd Solondz’ film Palindromes

Mario’s conception was particularly of interest: his Italian heritage and occupation as a plumber came about through the constraints of the 8-bit NES and Famicom consoles. With the limited pixels and colors of arcade technology at the time the games’ programmers could not animate Mario’s movement without making his arms ‘disappear’. Making his shirt a solid color and giving him overalls fixed this. They also did not have the space to give him a mouth or ears, and they could not animate hair, which resulted in Mario getting a moustache, sideburns, and a cap to bypass these problems.
(Wikipedia: Mario)

After 25 years of his introduction into popular culture, Mario’s red overalls, cap, and mustache have taken many manifestations. Similarly, in the film Palindromes, the main character Aviva is played by four separate actresses during the course of the movie. What links these actresses together aside from their name, is the clothing that they wear: a blue and white stripy top, and a pair of dark navy bell bottom jeans.

By establishing a set of distinctive characteristics — for example: a blue triangular hat, a yellow circular body, and black stick-like legs — the character can be executed in a variety of environments (a stuffed toy, a video game or a small stitched motif on a t-shirt), their appearance partly determined by the medium or technique it is rendered in, and the style of the artist executing it, yet they are all recognizable as one entity.

A proposal for the London 2012 Olympics mascot.
(with Christopher Lawson)

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