Lindsay Oliphant in Lockdown

This week we’d like to introduce our audiences to quite an unusual body of work, the squids! These computer drawn creatures have been made by Project Ability artist Lindsay Oliphant, in the past year, during Lockdown. You might recognise one or two of these little faces from our Lockdown exhibitions, ‘As Time Stood Still, Part One and Part Two’. You might also recognise them for another reason!

Lindsay Oliphant regularly visits the vast online world of the Pokemon, and over time she has begun to develop and evolve aspects of this online world in the real world. She has created personalities and characteristics that help distinguish the online creatures from one another.We first began to learn about this world when Lindsay would invigilate in the gallery, and she would always bring a Pokémon figure with her and tell us all about it. It is a highly complex and sophisticated world they inhabit, and it is best explained by an expert.

So, we caught up with Lindsay to get some insight into this fascinating world. She has been having weekly Art Zoom calls with Project Ability tutor Val, and when we first met Warren the squid we didn’t really know what to think of him! However, we were soon charmed by Warren and the other squids Lindsay was beginning to share with us, and we became increasingly curious as to what these little creatures were all about.

Here Lindsay Oliphant explains in her own words how she has gone about creating the complex dynamics and personalities of each of these six squid:

I get them in my game (which, in this case, is Pokémon Sword) and, after a bit of time playing with them, I figure out what sort of characters they would be. Then, I come up with character designs for each of them (because, in my Sword game, they’re identical, and I don’t want them to be identical). Some of them would go through several different design chooses before I settled on what I wanted them to look like. I also take the base Pokémon and mess around with its personality. Malamar is a Pokemon that is known for being very evil, so I decided to play around with that.

My squids can be evil for their own amusement, but it’s more like a thing they do on the side. And they know that they’ll face consequences if they go through with what they think up. Flash, Marriott and Neo are more likely to do evil stuff than Warren, Artemis and Damien.

I’m also thinking about, if they were evil, how they’d go about achieving world domination. Each of them would do something different, and it’d range from ‘take position of power by force and go from there’ to ‘use whatever resources they can find to do evil stuff’ to ‘why must I be evil when there are already evil humans doing that for me?’

And when I’m not thinking about the characters, I’m thinking about their species and how I can make it more interesting. That led to me coming up with different variants of the species – ‘aquatic’ and ‘mountainous’ – and adding the traits to the characters that I thought would fit them most. I’m thinking of also doing a ‘regional variant’ too, which is when you take an already existing Pokemon from one region in the games and swap its typing around and give it a new design to make it fit into another region. And I’m also thinking about designs for ‘mega evolution’ and ‘gigantamax’ forms for Malamar too, since it doesn’t have those and they’re good design experiments. I do like coming up with ideas like these. They make it easier to like my favorite Pokemon, and I love it when I can do stuff like this!”

It’s been fascinating learning more about Lindsay’s creative practice and this huge world of online gaming and Pokémon! I think we’ve only scratched the surface but it has been really fun learning a bit about the squids. We really look forward to seeing where Lindsay Oliphant’s adventures take her next. Thanks to Lindsay for sharing these amazing squids with us!!


 Gallery


Character descriptions from Lindsay:

Warren

One of the former members of a big family group of Inkay and Malamar on Route 7 of the Galar region. He ran away from the group after seeing how evil everyone was becoming. He spent a few years forming ‘Team le Squid’, starting with finding Flash and ending with adding Neo. As much as some of them don’t like to say so, they all refer to him as the leader. He and Flash don’t always see eye-to-eye. While Warren sometimes gets annoyed with Flash, the latter does manage to see some entertainment in it. Warren is a hot-headed psychic squid who nobody wants to get on the wrong side of. When he gets angry, Warren is known for going on rampages.The scars he has are the result of how many battles he’s got into. He’s occasionally surprised about how he’s still standing after being in those battles. He sometimes likes to exercise his ability to do evil things(as his species is known for being evil), but he doesn’t get far with his evil plans, as either the others stop him or he runs out of ideas. Warren is very proud of what he can do. If he gets victories in battles, he hopes that it was watched by the others. The attention-seeking attitude sometimes gets on the nerves of the other squids.

Flash

A transgender Malamar, and one of over a thousand siblings. He didn’t want to continue being a female Malamar after hearing about how they could become more evil than male ones. He still has some really protective parental traits. If someone or something threatens any nearby Inkay, Flash would instantly jump in to protect them. Flash would show no mercy to the threats while fighting them off. When he’s not defending his species’ pre-evolution, Flash is really laid-back. He’s so laid back that his voice is slow and slurred, and he doesn’t bother holding up his head tendrils. Sometimes he does think about evil things. If asked, he would say that it helps keep his mind active.

He also has an occasional craving for ice cream, which he tends to eat a bit too quickly. Doing that led to him getting repeated bouts of brainfreeze, which, in turn, led to him losing the ability to use psychic attacks. Flash still has some psychic abilities(he wouldn’t be a Malamar without being at least a little bit psychic). He’s still able to levitate, do predictions during battles, ‘see’ with his other senses, and use his ‘hidden’ or ‘egg’ move Destiny Bond. He is also completely oblivious to things like insults and romantic advances. Things like those go right over his head with very little reaction.

Artemis

An ‘aquatic’ Malamar, and one of Flash’s many siblings. His ‘aquatic’ trait gives him the ability to breathe underwater. After the Galar region started to hate Malamar, he got separated from his family group. Artemis decided to try and save his species’ reputation by traveling the region by himself. He eventually succeeded. During his journey, he got into battles with the gym leaders’ Pokemon. One of the Water-type leader’s Pokemon gave him the scar on his face after it hit him with Razor Shell. Like Flash, he has the ‘hidden’ or ‘egg’ move Destiny Bond. He and Flash use the move as a last resort if they’ve taken too much damage from enemies. Artemis also likes to fiddle around with time travel devices and other such doodads. During his journey. he managed to make one out of spare parts. He is known to be a bit impatient, and said attitude can lead to him ranting about things that irritate him. He didn’t get reunited with Flash until he found him several long years later. It took an equally-as-long while to get Flash to realize that they were related too, as the laid-back squid had forgotten.

Marriott

He is a ‘mountainous’ Malamar from the Kalos region. The ‘mountainous’ trait gives him the ability to withstand really cold weather. He was found and raised from an Inkay by a school headmaster. Being raised in that environment led to him getting a ‘no nonsense and no tolerance for rudeness’ attitude. The headmaster also gave him glasses after seeing that the shiny squid couldn’t see very well. Without his glasses, Marriott’s eyesight becomes very blurry. Marriott has no idea how his eyesight became that way. Marriott was the Pokemon companion of several teachers at the school. That went on until the school was attacked by Team Flare, the ‘evil team’ of the Kalos region. After the attack, Marriott decided to leave the school and seek out a way to get out of Kalos to escape from Team Flare. Like Warren and Flash, Marriott is someone that nobody wants to get on the wrong side of. He is known for his almost-permanent unimpressed glare, fast movements and very rough battle style. A few things can make him show his best attempt at a smile. Coffee-flavored things, battle victories and finding wild shiny encounters are among them. Marriott is also good at cooking, with the thing that he makes best being pancakes. As he eats them, he can sometimes be heard humming to himself.

Damien

He was hatched from an egg in the Alola region’s Aether Foundation research facility, and was one of many Pokemon that the scientists there had as test subjects. He tried to escape after the president of the foundation turned bad. After a few months of trying, he managed to lead a large group of Pokemon to freedom. He has small electric generators attached to the ends of the front four tendrils. Over time, they let him develop an immunity to the effects, and the ability to use Thunderbolt. Mutations caused by the experiments made them grow larger than the back four. Damien has a metal eyepatch, which he got after an experiment went wrong. As he recovered from the failed experiment, it got fused to his face. Due to his time being a test subject, Damien’s body is more fragile than the others. He takes damage from Fire-type moves the worst. The electric generators also allow Damien to absorb electric attacks, much like a lightningrod. He then uses it to power up his Thunderbolt attack.

Neo

One of many many ‘generated’ Pokemon who came to the Galar region from cyberspace. He first appeared as an Inkay. That made Flash instantly want to protect him. Neo started out being overpowered. As he grew up and evolved into Malamar, he worked on making himself more balanced. Like Flash and Artemis, Neo has a ‘hidden’ or ‘egg’ move, said move being Disable. He uses it to stop opposing Pokemon from spamming moves or using any move that could heal during battles. He is good at causing problems on purpose. Neo is also quite good at stealing things from passing trainers that visit the team’s camping locations. The other squids can’t count how many times Neo has stolen things like berries and other items from unaware visitors. His metal parts are the result of him getting into rough battles against hostile Pokemon. Neo got them attached to him after getting some really bad injuries. Like Artemis, Neo is an ‘aquatic’ Malamar, but he can’t go into water, as doing that would mess up his metal parts.

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