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Digital Direction (MA)

Niccolo Abate

Niccolò Abate (they/them) is an Italian Designer and Artist and part of the multidisciplinary crew Covo. They studied BA and MA in Graphic Design at Politecnico di Milano, then moved to London to study MA in Digital Direction at the Royal College of Arts. Their work often comprehends coding and 3D visuals inspired by elements of 2000's internet aesthetics and video games, as their upbringing was very close to the nerd community, and they are still a internet-dwelling goblin. They have worked doing visuals, websites and videogames for clients such as the rapper duo Paris Texas for their 2023 Coachella performance, Photographer Federico Raedelli in collaboration with Spectrum Store and Carhartt, the Italian music label Pluggers with their experimental musical NFT project "Fuck Pop", and Italian producer Palazzi d'Oriente.

Photo of the artist working on a MacBook at a cafe.

Their research work delves into the realms of exploration of self-identity, the relation between queerness and technology–mainly regarding the non-binary experience–and the study of how practitioners can better their communication to inform the public of societal problems. Their most recent work, "The Weird Hero", explores if and how societal structures around stories can influence and problematise the creation of Queer Heroes and Protagonists.

In their Design work, Niccolò gets inspiration from retro-gaming, sci-fi, internet chaos, music, and pretty much everything they've come across lately to create strange 3D worlds, graphics, websites and what they feel like doing lately. Their ethos is "If it's not at least some kind of fun, it's not worth the effort."

"The Weird Hero" examines historical story structures and Jungian archetypes related to "The Hero's Journey", questioning if they exclude Queer representation and ultimately create a difficult environment for Queer Protagonists to be shown and understood.

The Work is divided into two parts:

The Research, which is hosted on the Artist's website, is an ongoing exploration of this topic. Every page of the research is supposed to receive feedback in a blog-like fashion to foster a continuous improvement of the content. When we're talking about Queer storytelling, it's crucial to create a fluid environment as everyone has their own different experiences, which change drastically over time, and ultimately limiting them to a set-in-stone structure is detrimental, to say the least.

The second part instead delves into the concept of a Queer Hero in today's context, presented as a Videogame called "Identity", which explores personal identity and gender's impact on daily interactions within a fantasy setting. The work tries to recreate the experiences of the artist in their hometown in Italy, which had (and still has) no idea of what gender-defying people are and doesn't see eye to eye with them. Right now, it is presented as a gameplay demo that shows how you could use gender inside a videogame to change how people, monsters and the overall arching story interact with the protagonist.

A better representation of the Queer community and the experience of being non-conforming to societal standards are necessary to avoid future discrimination and hate crimes. We want to remember LGBTQ+ activists that have died fighting for wanting to be treated as humans all around the world: Marsha P. Johnson, Xulhaz Mannan, Edwin Chiloba, Yelena Grigoryeva, and so many others.

Logo of "Identity" Videogame
Logo of "Identity" Videogame
Maps of the videogame
Maps of the videogame
gameplay screenshot of "Identity" Game
gameplay screenshot of "Identity" Game
Sumerian goddess Ishtar
Ishtar, Lewis Spence (1916)Ishtar was saved in the underworld by two sexless and genderless beings, and it's the first known mythological story that includes non-binary humans.


Videogame / Website