Mashiyat Zaman

Introduction

My name is Mashi, I'm 25 years old, born and raised in Queens. I admire good storytelling, and have always enjoyed exploring new modes of expression as I experiment with my voice. Below I share a brief record of these excursions across media, from high school until now. As our community members fight for our space against the imperial relics that would silence them, I want to amplify their voices with my own. Let's take this next step together.

Contents

0. Codices on The Kingdom of Basilius
1. Thesis: "Breaking Traditional Styles"
2. Style Transfer as @photobebop
3. Observing Color & Class in Media on Chairo+
4. Romhacking Heroes Like Me
5. Blending Space With AR & GPS
6. Looking Forward: Digital Open Spaces

0.
Codices on The Kingdom of Basilius
2012–14

Limited access into the fantastic worlds I grew up exploring led me to build my own in high school. Beginning with a hand-drawn map and an old Greek word for king, I wrote dozens of entries by merchants, soldiers, scientists, and others about their lives, struggles, and the intrigue throughout the Kingdom of Basilius.

Left: A hand-drawn map I made of Basilius and its surroundings that served as the basis for my worldbuilding. Right: My attempt from early in college at organizing all of my writings about Basilius into a table of contents under the name Edward Folcher, a historian of the Kingdom.

1.
Thesis: "Breaking Traditional Styles"
2017–18

I wrote my thesis for the Asian Languages & Civilizations department of Amherst College about Cowboy Bebop's use of disparate genres to navigate the memories and gender identities of its cast. In doing so, I advocated a critical intertextual reading of anime, contrasting with the tendency to prioritize its relationship with Japan and Japaneseness. In the spirit of the show, I read from a variety of fields intersecting with film, including sociology, psychology, and gender studies.

My undergraduate thesis "Breaking Traditional Styles: Building Identities through Genre in Cowboy Bebop", written with the support of my professors Trent Maxey and Timothy Van Compernolle.

2.
Style Transfer as @photobebop
2018–19

After building deep learning models for super-resolution in my summer internship at Recruit Communications, I began tinkering with neural style transfer – the manipulation of images using different source styles. I applied this technology and other image processing algorithms to my own photography, which I practiced with friends and models in NYC and Tokyo, and shared the fruits of these excursions as the persona @photobebop.

3.
Observing Color & Class in Media on Chairo+
Apr–Nov 2020

Nostalgic for my thesis work, and longing for more opportunities to discuss the anime and games I grew up loving, I created Chairo+ as a platform to house analyses of these media's portrayal of race and class, as well as document the activism and movement-building I experienced in Tokyo. I wrote over 20 articles over the course of a year, attempting different editorial styles in the process.

Articles from each of the four broad categories I wrote about: games, anime, books and essays, and activism. Click on the image to redirect to their page.

4.
Romhacking Heroes Like Me
Mar–Jul 2021

Among the worlds I wished I could experience more was that of the tactical RPG Fire Emblem, and apparently the Game Boy Advance ROM-hacking community felt the same. Using open source tools to edit the maps, sprites, and dialogue of game files, I began prototyping an original campaign featuring exclusively brown characters, who are all but missing from the actual series and fan-made works.

5.
Blending Space With AR & GPS
Oct–Nov 2021

As an R&D engineer at the Japanese tech startup Eukarya (co-founded by current ITP fellow Shinnosuke Komiya), I prototyped an AR extension in Unity3D for the spatial visualization tool Re:Earth, allowing users to create and interact with virtual landmarks. Given access to a mobile device's compass and GPS, I could calculate the distance of a given landmark and represent its position in AR space relative to the user.

6.
Looking Forward: Digital Open Spaces
2022

First, using a self-hosted livestream server, I'll broadcast discussions with guests from a variety of backgrounds about inclusive storytelling and design, while attempting our favorite games using characters who look like us. The goal is to create a community-moderated space in Chairo+ that functions independently of ad- and traffic-driven platforms.

Second, through partnering with artists of the video game world, I will create an open-access database of video game assets featuring the backgrounds, bodies, and cultures of communities underrepresented in both the medium and industry. I hope that new game developers might use such a resource to tell more stories as themselves.