Arboretum Imaginarium is less of a game and more a ritual for personal exploration. It is the result of a creative exploration between game designer Allen Turner and artist Stacey Taheny of SkyEyesWoman.
It is meant to instigate the exploration of personal narrative. The goal is to borrow from oracle traditions like the tarot to create a tool that gets participants using images and words to begin introspective delving and journaling about the way they perceive things that arise from looking at the cards.
The tool is a sort of socioemotional device that a person uses with themselves, or as a group of two or more, to identify things that are gestating in their subconscious or just for instigating narratives for character development or story structures.
All of the images in Arboretum Imaginarium come from nature and engage themes of growth and rot. They are from photos taken by artist, and co-developer, Stacey Taheny in her explorations in nature. She then goes on to manipulate them into patterns of symmetry and asymmetry. This results in images that the eye and brain have to engage in an apophenic struggle to make sense of what is being seen. Apophenia is the human tendency to perceive patterns in random information. It's the thing that makes us see faces and forms in clouds and cracks on the walls.
What is wonderful, and powerful, about this is that it allows us to create an experience that veers away from similar tools that have drawn images or painting because the images in the cards don't have a preconceived culture. Whatever you see in the image is a function of how you see, the cultures you come from, and the narratives that inform you. No two people will see the same thing in one of these images. In addition the perception of the images further get redefined by the eye depending on what other images and words they are in proximity to.
This deck represents the simplest version of this tool in the form of cards that are made of images and words. The words, imprinted on the cards, are arbitrarily connected to the images that causes the participant to try to associated the word with the image or disassociate the word and image.
When looking at the cards in this way one can try to focus in on the image, focus in on the word, or try to settle between the two. One pays attention to the emotional experiences that come with exposure to the card. Narratives form as the word/image connection begins to form and as the participant talks about what they see, adding more cards and arranging them in different patterns allows the participant to drill deeper and focus more, paying attention to what bubbles to the surface.
The cards help one to see what is in plain sight the same way a magnifying glass allows one to see the details of the ant that was see-able, but not noticeable, without the tool. The result is something to explore. It's important to note that one does not "Read" the cards. One reads oneself using the cards. The cards don't give you answers. What they do is allow you to see something that you are already in relationship with so that you may begin a conversation with yourself about it. Ideally the participant takes the experience of the cards and continues it in an act of creation, or exploration, via an artistic medium, or journaling, or both.
Within the deck are 55 large cards that are used for exploration. This is supplemented with 6 cards that provide instruction and prompts for different uses which range from personal exploration to using them as plot building and character creation tools to help with writing and creating powerful narratives.
For a better look at the cards here is a flip through video posted by the insightful Grün Eule.
|Designer||Council Of Fools|
|Publish Date||May 20, 2017|
|Department||Tarot and Oracles|
|Audience||Students / Teachers|
|More Info||Arboretum Imaginarium web site|