When a book's design informs its contents (and vice versa), a beautiful balance is struck for the viewer (and in this case, participant!)
According to Marian St. Laurent, “Mind Games for 2: An Adult Activity Book” was inspired by “Andy Warhol coloring books and my mother.” While we have no reference for the maternal influence over St. Laurent’s vision, we can easily draw parallels between the bold composition of type and the inviting outlines and ease of interaction of Warhol’s outlines.
St. Laurent’s outlines are altogether a participatory venture. The book is designed to be used as a tool for adult interaction, yielding new or significantly reinforcing information about each partner (or opponent). The table of contents page includes the warning: “Using lies of manipulation without the consent of your game partner at this stage will undermine trust and damage the end result of your work together. Proceed with caution or you could end up with a life long enemy.”
While the books design is reminiscent of games played in an atmosphere of simplicity and intimate fun, but the text in preface of each game is serious and cautionary. The game formatting is in the form of a diagram, or chart. Input leads to analysis, and the flow of shapes implies the ramifications of question and answer. Basic shapes, often used to teach children simple mathematics and interactive play technique, are applied on an adult level. The time spent with the game is meant to yield a result, bringing us from infancy of knowledge to a maturity of interaction and conclusion.
St. Laurent tells us that the book is for adults. Adult activities bring numerous thoughts to mind, including the fact that a certain level of brainpower is required to achieve a result that is separate from an elementary understanding of the world and its properties. The intimacy and honesty encouraged by the game provides the option of a bridge to sexual understanding.
The most notable aspect of this book upon initial evaluation is its sense of structure, rules, and formula. The game is meant to last from 10 minutes to whenever both parties feel they have reached a conclusion (an arguably infinite amount of input is suggested.) Children are known for their distorted sense of time, as they play to learn and learn to play. Paradoxically, timed games can be so absorbing that participants lose their awareness of the passage of time, even in adulthood.
The title is a facet of this work that informs both the whimsical construction and frighteningly frank nature of the game's objective to the viewer/participant. The phrase “mind games” stems from a pop psych term that relies heavily on neurotic input and selfish results. “Mind games” also describe a puzzle or brain teaser that requires undivided attention and investment of skills. The implication of a game yielding the result of a winner and a loser, along with the suggestion that the mind’s strength is responsible for swaying outcome, is a daunting challenge that makes the warning of lies falsifying an “end result” a concept strictly for adults.
St. Laurent’s use of colorforms aside, the weighty nature of the instructional material and engaged "play" is completely reliant on the motives of the participants and the desired outcome. Possible outcomes range from irreparable disagreement to new understandings, sexual intimacy, or newly made bonds between almost perfect strangers.