Works of Game. On the Aesthetics of Games and Art, by John Sharp, Associate Professor of Games and Learning at Parsons.

Find it on amazon USA and UK.

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Publisher MIT Press writes: Games and art have intersected at least since the early twentieth century, as can be seen in the Surrealists' use of Exquisite Corpse and other games, Duchamp's obsession with Chess, and Fluxus event scores and boxes--to name just a few examples. Over the past fifteen years, the synthesis of art and games has clouded for both artists and gamemakers. Contemporary art has drawn on the tool set of videogames, but has not considered them a cultural form with its own conceptual, formal, and experiential affordances. For their part, game developers and players focus on the innate properties of games and the experiences they provide, giving little attention to what it means to create and evaluate fine art. In Works of Game, John Sharp bridges this gap, offering a formal aesthetics of games that encompasses the commonalities and the differences between games and art.


Myfanwy Ashmore, Super Mario Trilogy

Works of Game is part of MIT Press' Playful Thinking, a series of compact, short, sharp volumes on game-related topics that should interest pretty much everyone, from academics to industry professionals to members of the general public. I've only got this one book from the series but i can confirm that it counts some 115 pages only (excluding the notes which, by the way, are surprisingly amusing to read) and that it analyses its subject in depth while remaining extremely readable to art experts and curious players alike.

In the book, John Sharp attempts to explore the way game makers and artists conceptualize and create game-based artworks. He identifies three connected community of practice:

Game artists appropriate the tools of the video game industry to create art.
Meanwhile, the artists who produce artgames see games as a medium for artistic expression and experiential understanding that enable them to delve into territories traditionally explored through poetry, painting, literature or film.
And finally, there are the creators who produce artists games and use games are a vehicle for questioning, critiquing and exploring unexpected potentials. The main characteristic of their work is that their concept and interactivity speak to both the contemporary art and the game communities.

Sharp illustrates the three practices with examples and brings them in parallel with key moments or players of the history of art. It is one of those rare books in which Donkey Kong finds itself in the company of Marcel Duchamp, Dune and Raby, Nicolas Bourriaud and Sol Lewitt.

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Julian Oliver, ioq3aPaint, 2010

A clear example of Game Art is when Julian Oliver exploits a bug in the Quake 3 game engine to 'paint' abstract images and videos. The result is a wok of art that stand on its own but that might not necessarily appeal to a gaming community who expects interaction.

A great artgame would be Castle Doctrine, a massively-multiplayer game set in the early 1990s. Each player has two missions: protect their home and break inside other players' houses and steal money from their vaults. It's not pleasant, you can lose everything and commit suicide, be mauled by a guard dog, or be killed by the traps your neighbour has installed to protect their belongings.

In creating this paranoid game, Jason Rohrer was influenced by his childhood fear of his house being robbed, shootings that made the headlines, and his own political views regarding gun rights and home invasions. Castle Doctrine demonstrates that a game can be autobiographic, like a painting or a poem.

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Brenda Romero, Train, 2009

In her The Mechanic is the Message series, Brenda Romero uses games as a medium for exploring human tragedy.

The series is composed of six separate non-digital games that experiment with the traditional notions of games and the way they can extend human experience and create emotions not traditionally associated with games.

One of them is Train, a board game where players have to transport as many yellow game pieces from one end of the game board to the other. But the winner discovers the name of their destination only once they've reached it. All of them are concentration camps. The player can then choose to stop playing or attempt to sabotage the game by intentionally trying to draw derail cards.

Another game, Síochán leat (aka "The Irish Game") re-creates Oliver Cromwell's mid-17th century invasion of Ireland. As the English army advances, the Irish people (game pieces) are displaced onto other squares of the board until the figures representing Irish people can barely squeeze into increasingly crowded areas. Two players manipulate the Irish pieces. When there isn't enough free spaces left, the Irish people will have to fight one another in order to stay alive, for example by sending some of the Irish people to one side of the board where they will wait to shipped to Barbados to serve as slaves.

All the games in the series put the player in the very embarrassing position of playing an active part into a human atrocity. The rules of the game are not published anywhere, you discover them as you play.

Now artists' games have the best of both world. They satisfy the art community because of their critical and conceptual rigor and they entertain the gamers with their level of interactivity and their representation of real phenomena experiences.

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Mary Flanagan, [giantJoystick], 2006

An example of artists' game is Mary Flanagan's [giantJoystick] which critically engages with the design, play and cultural place of games. In the installation, you have to handle an oversize Atari VCS joystick to play classic games designed for one player. However, you need the help of another player in order to successfully manipulate it. The idea is thus very simple. However, questions soon arise in the mind of the player: How do you collaborate on a game that was designed for one player only? How does the playing activity change once you're in a museum rather than alone in your living room? etc.

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Molleindustria, The Best Amendment

Molleindustria's The Best Amendment, a game that pushed the pro-gun rhetoric to its most absurd limits, is as ludic as it is socially-engaged and as such, it appeals to both the game community and the art crowd. It particularly challenges Wayne LaPierre's argument, made in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, that "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

In the concluding pages, Sharp states that the artgames movement is more or less on its last leg and that game art is relegated to the 'marginalized world of media art.' He does however make a great case for artists' games, explaining why they deserve to get the attention of galleries and museums, what is their place in culture and also why we should develop a new literacy to better appreciate (and create) them.

Now who might enjoy this book? That's a no-brainer!

Works of Game is a book for people who love contemporary art and read Jonathan Jones' art column on The Guardian (i like Jones' writing but his good sense seems to evaporate as soon as any form of technology is involved.)

It is also a book i'd recommend for gamers, for the media art crowd and anyone else who want to further reflect on art's contribution to games. And vice-versa.

Sponsored by:





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View of the Fondation Vasarely. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Adelin Schweitzer, Dichotomie #Eyeswalking, 2013

Here's my -as usual- very belated and -as usual- very enthusiastic review of the GAMERZ festival which took place in Aix-en-Provence so many days ago i refuse to count.

«The liberation of the game, its creative autonomy, supersedes the ancient division between imposed work and passive leisure» May 17, 1960. Excerpt from the Situationist international manifesto.

The 10th edition of the festival celebrated thus the death of passive leisure in the hands of games and art as well as the transformation of the compliant consumer into a creative user and abuser of technology. The exhibitions across town also investigated how the digital environment impacts and disrupts people's development at conscious and unconscious levels (cognitive, social, psychological, among others) and looked at how these often invisible adjustments can be harnessed in alternative social, economic, political or ecological practices.

The result is a free exhibition that proved, once again, that a digital art event can be both highly entertaining and smart. But the one thing that strikes me the most about GAMERZ is that, year after year, the festival manages to uncover and select young artists whose work i would otherwise not know about. And they are pretty good at spotting talents. The portfolio of artists like Labomedia, Antonin Foruneau, Jackenpopp, Maxime Marion & Emilie Brout or Paul Destieu has gone from strength to strength ever since i discovered their work at GAMERZ.

Here's what the 2014 edition brought us (and there's more to come):

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Lucien Gaudion, Spectra, installation for prepared vinyl, 2011. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Lucien Gaudion, Spectra, installation for prepared vinyl, 2011. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Spectra, by Lucien Gaudion, is a vinyl printed with a chromatic circle, like the picture discs that were so popular up until the 1970s. As the record needle travels around the vinyl, the sound spectrum of each colour is made audible, from its lowest to highest frequencies, by a reading cell scanning the surface.

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Ink Geyser (Mapping), Mathieu Tremblin, 2011-2014. Part of F.A.T. Lab, Like Jacking. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Mathieu Tremblin, Ink Geyser (Mapping), 2011-2014. Part of F.A.T. Lab, Like Jacking. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Mathieu Tremblin, Dancing Trashbag, 2011. Part of F.A.T. Lab, Like Jacking. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Addie Wagenknecht & Pablo Garcia, Webcam Venus, 2013

F.A.T. Lab was exhibiting a series of artworks ranging from a Dancing Trashbag to a Cam bootleg screening of The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard.

Each of these artworks exploits the concept of LikeJacking Spam (a kind of spam targeted at social network) but by sharing their source code, the artists want to stimulate empowerment through poetic/activist/humorous perturbations.

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Adelin Schweitzer, Dichotomie #Eyeswalking, multimedia installation, 2013. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Adelin Schweitzer, Dichotomie #Eyeswalking, multimedia installation, 2013. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Adelin Schweitzer, Dichotomie #Eyeswalking, multimedia installation, 2013. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Adelin Schweitzer, Dichotomie #Eyeswalking, multimedia installation, 2013. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

If one subtracts what the eye can see from what the ear can perceive, what remains of our perception of a given place ? What does our body become when it's not anymore the actor of our perceptions?

These are the questions at the origin of Adelin Schweitzer's exploration of the notion of dichotomy. The artist was showing two pieces where natural and artificial perceptions play with and against one another.

Dichotomie #Eyeswalking is made of two videos that document Schweitzer's walk in the snowy Canadian landscape. One gives a traditional, horizontal view of someone walking and is shown on a (traditional again) video screen. The other is shot from above, from a bouquet of balloons he is carrying along. It is screened inside a pedestal and you have to bend your head and watch inside goggles to watch that perspective. Constantly looking up to the wall screen in order to compare the two perspective is irresistible but if you stick to watching the perspective from above, it almost feels as if your body is pulled up and the scene is unfolding below your body.

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Yro, Bernard Szajner, Jesse Lucas & Erwan Raguenes, Persystograf. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Yro, Bernard Szajner, Jesse Lucas & Erwan Raguenes, Persystograf. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Yro, Bernard Szajner, Jesse Lucas & Erwan Raguenes, Persystograf. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Inspired by an old instrument called the hurdy-gurdy, the Persystograf is activated by a hand crank. It emits sounds and images that can be customized using additional control knobs.

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Art of Failure, Flat Earth Society, 2008-2014. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Art of Failure, Flat Earth Society, 2008-2014. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ


Art of Failure, Flat Earth Society

Flat earth society takes readings from the stylus of topographic radar, cuts them into vinyl and then plays them back with a stylus.

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Gaspard and Sandra Bebie-Valerian aka Art-Act, Viridis. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Gaspard and Sandra Bebie-Valerian aka Art-Act, Viridis. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Gaspard and Sandra Bebie-Valerian aka Art-Act, Viridis

Viridis is both an online survival game and a fully-operative spirulina farm run by artists Gaspard and Sandra Bebie-Valérian.

The Viridis game is set in a post-apocalyptic world, in which humans owe their survival to spirulina, the "green counterpoison". But what makes the game interesting is that it gives players the possibility to collaborate with the farmers on the daily management of the real spirulina farm. Players can convert their points into daily tasks or items, vote in referendums about the cultivation of spirulina, etc.

More images from the festival:

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Screening of Machinimas selected by Isabelle Arvers. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Olivier Morvan, à ton image (le projet escapologique, épisode VIII). Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Olivier Morvan, à ton image (le projet escapologique, épisode VIII). Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Olivier Morvan, à ton image (le projet escapologique, épisode VIII). Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Olivier Morvan, à ton image (le projet escapologique, épisode VIII). Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Performances at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Opening night at the Fondation Vasarely. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Opening night at the Fondation Vasarely. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Catering of the opening night by Dolls in the Kitchen. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Catering of the opening night by Dolls in the Kitchen. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Performance at the Fondation Vasarely. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

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Guillaume Stagnaro, Fluorescent Umwelt, at the Fondation Vasarely. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Loooots more photos over here.

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Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

I've been hearing about, seeing and discussing the work of Antonin Fourneau for a few years now. I even met him and played with his works on more than one occasion. Yet, I never took the time to properly sit down and have an online interview with him. I'm sure many of you have read about Antonin's rather magnificent Water Light Graffiti or about his interactive pieces that revisit and reposition classic video games. Maybe i'll sit down again one day and interview him about his artworks but right now, i felt it was high time to get him to talk about ENIAROF, the geeky funfair he's been orchestrating since 2005. Eniarof looks like nothing you've ever experienced. It's like a very wild, very Far West version of a digital art festival, with elements of village fair, hacker meeting and circus thrown here and there.

Eniarof is a reinvention of the funfair where the concept of the attraction becomes an excuse for art. The creators of each Eniarof take their inspiration from popular culture, ancestral and new, obeying the rules of the "Dogmeniarof". Karaoke, Lucha Libre, video games, art installations, performances, gory films and curiosity cabinets can all be found on the jolly & unprejudiced grounds of the Eniarof funfair.

The last edition of Eniarof looked a bit like this....

Eniarof Aix 2013. Video by Alex "A2HN" Napoli

And without further ado, here's what Antonin had to tell us about Eniarof. Scroll down if you prefer to read the interview in its original version (french).

Hi Antonin! What is the story of ENIAROF?

I was a student at the Art School of Aix-en-Provence when I started Eniarof. The idea for the project started to germinate in 2004 when I was participating in the exhibition Power at Villette Numérique with the collective Téléférique.

The piece "Fan" contained already quite a few tracks for collaborative collaboration that i wanted to keep persuing in the future. At the same time, entertainment industry workers with intermittent contracts were protesting in France. In the context of the scandal of amusement park employees (Mickey, Minnie and the others) working all year long but under a casual employment contract, I had the opportunity to read an article about the disappearance of funfair model in favor of a business model closer to the amusement park. The article also echoes Rem Koolhaas' book Delirious New York in which I discovered that an attraction was a rather interesting object at the crossroad between installation, pop culture and innovation.

I was just missing the artistic 'Freaks' side that you could find in a fun fairs but not in an amusement parks. Then I simply asked myself about the kind of environment I would have liked to evolved after art school and the idea of working exclusively in the digital art world was freaking me out. It felt like a ghetto that lacked the recognition from the art world and refused to embrace its popular side.

That was in 2005 and now the situation has changed a little: people are more tech-savvy thanks to the smartphone in the pocket, they are also more comfortable with the idea of ​​interacting. But when I created Eniarof, my idea was to decompartmentalize digital creation as much as possible and to disinhibit it while mixing it with other forms of interaction, with the public but without a computer. I thought it needed ​​different degrees of public interaction. So in general people go through an arcade with a new breed of interaction then they'd venture to slip on a jumpsuit made out of tyre to play 'pogo bumper car' or wear a wig to play HardRock simply by shaking their head. That's how Eniarof was born.

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One Life Remains, Slam Of The Arcade Age. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

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Eniarof Aix 2013 photo by Manuel Braun

How did it grow from a student project to a village fair slash high tech geek festival that counts 13 editions?

I've always been bad at promoting Eniarof. If you search online, you'll need to fish for information. Nonetheless, whenever I had the opportunity to present the project, I found that people were seduced by the concept. Soon enough we received proposals from festivals or cultural structures that were willing to welcome us just through word of mouth. I did not want to confine the project to a repetitive formula that would be presented each year at the same place. When I launched the project I was talking about a 'downloadable' funfair and I imagined a system of fair that would be easily duplicable. A bit like Dorkbot or Maker Faire. In the end, Eniarof did not go in that direction and I think that ultimately what we managed produce with our Eniarofer group is a kind of family and festive cohesion even though we meet only once or twice per year but the public knows us and returns because Eniarof's atmosphere cannot easily be compared to anything else.

Then there must have been a small evolution over the past few years because even the City of Poitiers called us to organize Eniarof 12 in a space of Blossac Park in connection with their Christmas fair. Eniarof is quite a polymorph party that comes with an array of representations and organizations that vary depending on the context. The Eniarof we ran in Aix-en-Provence or in Slovenia in collaboration with organizations that trust us have turned into real residence laboratories to build over a short period of time (2 to 3 weeks) what were essentially new attractions. In other Eniarof, you get 50% new attractions and 50% attractions that are already running with success and that guarantee a good atmosphere.

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Arcade Backpack (UCLA) @Eniarof, ESAAix with the Eniarof Fanfare next to the town center of Aix. Photo Daan de Lange

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Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

There is an ENIAROF dogma, however, the event is still in the hands of a lot of improvisation, DIY, freedom, and collective efforts. So i suspect that things might not always run smoothly. What have you learnt over the editions of ENIAROF?

The main objective of the Dogmeniarof is to set the tone and give an idea of ​​the spirit of Eniarof but in reality we hardly ever fully comply with the rules of Dogmeniarof.

What works, what doesn't?

We could say that, in general, what does not work anymore in an edition of Eniarof is something that used to work well. For example, this year, we have a sound fencing game that met with such success that on the first night someone ripped the device cable from the wall. Which is great and proves that an attraction works when you do not even have to explain people how to play with it.

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Monsieur Moo, Brouette Tuning. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

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Alexandre Saunier, Helmetron. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Douglas Edric Stanley

I'm curious about some of the projects shown during the last ENIAROF in Aix-en-Provence. In particular: the Wheelbarrow (Brouette tuning), Helmetron, and Arcade Concrete. Could you tell us a few words about these works?

Brouette Tuning first appeared in 2007 during the Eniarof in Slovenia. We've since presented it at 4 or 5 editions of Eniarof. This is a piece by Maxime Berthou aka Mr. Moo. It embodies in an object what Enairof is: pimped recycling, a touch of technology, mobility and lots of fun. The wheelbarrow is our best way to attract people. Just go out in the street with it and people wonder what's this UFO.

Helmetron was created by Alexandre Saunier and piloted as an Eniarof trio with Douglas Edric Stanley and me.

A few words of explanation from the author:
"""""
This is a light and sound instrument for computer. A bit like Isaac Asimov's Visi-sonor in the Foundations series except that here, the computer is the interpreter. In the end, we are immersed in the very heart of the computer and in its data stream, we are bathed in the files it reads and converts into light and sounds. It's 'glitch', it's hardcore, it looks a bit like a digital machine dream, it's a bit like Tron but without Disney's special effects.

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Alexandre Saunier, Helmetron. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

Two of my favourite anecdotes:

A guy took off the helmet and asked me:
" - What's the color inside the helmet?"
" - There's only orange, it's the only light I'm sending at the moment"
" - Oh, right, I was wondering cuz I've seen some green, blue, white and orange."

And then there was this girl who was shaking and trembling from time to time, I was afraid she was epileptic. When she took off the helmet she told me that she felt like she had tiny animals, insect-like, that were walking on her.

Otherwise what is interesting is that the reaction of people is always different, depending on their physiology / nervous system, some see circles, other see fractals, colors, etc.
.
"""""
What attracted me to his work is its Clockwork Orange 2.0 side which I think very few people would have enjoyed in another context. Here, however, we had people queuing to scan the mazes of the computer. This is one of the reason for Eniarof success: we take the public on board by mixing borderline and conceptual things in many different experiences and the public completely indulges.

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Antonin Fourneau and Manuel Braun, Arcade Concrete. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

Arcade Concrete is a project I developed with Manuel Braun with whom I've done several pieces (Patch&ko, Eggregor8, MadNes, Domoludens, spongegame ... ) which often revolve around the idea that the game interface can be sculpture material like any other and this sculpture material involves specific mechanisms and forms related to the gameplay of the software. It's as if every video game could get a materialization of its physical interface other than the standardized one and this materialization would involve a re-reading of its gameplay.

The context of the game offers an interesting space to observe our behavior. The halls of game arcades in the '80s and '90s used to play the role of physical and community space of video games. Arcades then disappeared in favor of 'in-house' games. And finally the video game is back in the urban space thanks to mobile devices. Arcade Concrete questions the place of video games in urban space. Playing on your iPhone in the underground is not the same as standing in front of a terminal and playing in front of everyone. There is now a terminal that sits at the entrance to the Art School of Aix-en-Provence and it became a space for discussion. Our objective is to multiply performances by casting terminals all over the world. A bit like Invader pasting mosaics, we will try and optimize the placement of a terminal and we will write down a user manual in the Eniarof book.

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Antonin Fourneau and Manuel Braun, Eggregor, 8 players are 1 pacman and try to play together. Photo decept.org

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Antonin Fourneau and Manuel Braun, Eggregor. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

And if you had to chose 5 projects shown at ENIAROF over the years, which ones would they be?

We have quite a few projects that have become "best playable" and that got more exposure such as:

Hyper Olympic by Djeff Regottaz and Loic Horellou where you play a remake of Track & Field with a very physical interface. It has now become a staple of festivals and it makes for a great atmosphere.


The Hyper Olympic Party - Parizon@dream - Gaïté Lyrique - June 9, 2012 - Dekalko

Eggregor8 by Manuel Braun and myself where 8 people play Pacman at the same time, as if 8 people were using the same joystick.

What's funny is that in 2010 there was a video game exhibition at the Centre Pompidou and most of the works invited were Eniarof pieces but they didn't even realize that the pieces were connected.

We could call it the BeaubourgNiarof.

There's also a work called "A battre" which Raphael Isdant created during the second edition of Eniarof in Aix-en-Provence. That one traveled a lot too.


Raphael Isdant, A BATTRE

There are also works that are either more unexpected or more specific to Eniarof Aix-en-Provence.

Such as Pogo Tamponneuse, a fighting ring where you need to put on a suit made of tyre in order to face your opponent. Video soon!

Or the Fucking Machine battle which was a bit borderline and totally surrealist.

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Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

Eniarof has a dogma that mentions that ENIAROF has to take place in the proximity of an Emmaüs. Could you tell us why?

Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg's Dogme 95 often refers to economy of means. When I mounted Eniarof, my goal was to avoid going overboard with projects that swallow too much money simply because I could see that there was no budget for young artists. At the time, I was often hanging out in Emmaus where I saw many materials that Emmaus did not necessarily know what to do with. In addition, it is often nice to recycle, it gives you the feeling of having done something ecological.

Another thing that surprised me in the dogma is that the barman is paid as much as an artist. Why do you think it is important that every participant receives the same fee?

At the beginning of my career as an artist I was horrified to see that a festival was paying the guard or the bartender more than they were paying me. I wondered what was the future for us if artists were forced to sell themselves off just to get some exposure. Add to that that during this festival my work ended up being destroyed. Fortunately, the trend has now reversed for me, but it used to be a bit of a rule to remind me that I don't sell off artists the way i was sold off.

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The Book of Eniarof

What is next for ENIAROF?

We're working on a book.
We have a call for donations on KissKissBankBank.

We are also in touch with people on the other side of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean to make other editions of Eniarof over there but nothing's confirmed so I won't speculate too much.

Thank you Antonin!

If you want to see more images of Eniarof, check out:
Antonin's flickr set.
ENIAROF pool.
Daan de Lange flickr set.
The very staged HEAD Media Design flickr set.


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Eniarof Aix 2013 photo by Manuel Braun

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Eniarof Aix 2013 photo by Manuel Braun

If after this long interview you're still wondering what Eniarof is, this video might enlighten you:

-------

and now for ze frenchy version:


What is the story of ENIAROF?

J'était étudiant à l'Ecole d'art d'Aix-en-Provence lorsque j'ai démarré Eniarof.
L'idée du projet a commencé à germer en 2004 lorsque j'ai participé à l'exposition "Power" à Villette Numérique avec le Collectif Téléférique :

La pièce collaborative "Fan" du collectif regroupée déjà pas mal de piste de création collaborative que je voulais mener à l'avenir. Puis à la même époque nous avions des soulèvement intermittent en France. Avec le scandale des employés des Parc d'Attractions (mickey, Minie et autres) travaillant à l'année mais considéré comme des intermittents, j'ai eu l'occasion de lire un article sur la disparition du modèle de Fête Foraine d'avant au profit d'un business modèle plus proche du parc d'attraction. L'article faisait aussi écho au livre New York Délire de Rem Koolhas dans lequel j'ai pu découvrir qu'une attraction était un objet assez intéressant entre installation, culture pop et innovation.

Il me manquait juste le côté Freaks artistique que l'on trouve dans un fête foraine mais peu dans un parc d'attraction. Je me suis ensuite simplement demandé dans quel milieu j'aimerai évolué après l'école d'art et la vision d'oeuvrer seulement dans le milieu art numérique me faisait flipper. J'avais la sensation d'un milieu ghetto en manque de reconnaissance du milieu de l'art et ne voulant pas embrassé son côté populaire.

C'était en 2005 et maintenant la donne a un peu changé les gens sont plus numérisés avec des smartphones dans la poche et plus à l'aise avec l'idée d'interaction. Mais à l'époque au moment où je fonde Eniarof mon idée était de décloisonner un maximum la création numérique et la décomplexer tout en la mélangeant avec d'autres formes d'interaction avec le public et sans ordinateur. Je pensais qu'il fallait apporter différents degrés d'interactions au public pour le décomplexer. Ainsi en général les gens passe par une salle de jeux vidéo revisités avec des formes d'interactions qu'ils connaissent pour ensuite oser s'aventurer à enfiler une combinaison en pneu pour faire du pogo tamponeuse ou encore enfiler une perruque pour jouer du HardRock simplement en secouant la tête. Ainsi Eniarof est né.

How did it grow from a student project to a village fair slash high tech geek festival that counts 13 editions?

J'ai toujours assez mal communiqué sur Eniarof il n'y a qu'a regarder sur le Net il faut partir à la pêche aux information. Cependant à chaque fois que j'ai eu l'occasion de présenter le projet les gens ont accroché au concept. Donc assez vite on a eu des propositions de festivals ou structures qui voulaient nous accueillir simplement grâce au bouche à oreille ils ont entendu parlé du projet. Je ne voulais pas enfermer le projet dans un projet récurent qui serai présenté chaque année au même endroit. A l'époque où j'ai lancé le projet Je parlais d'une fête foraine téléchargeable j'imaginais un système de fête duplicable facilement. Un peu à l'image des Dorkbot ou Maker Faire. Mais eniarof n'a pas vraiment pris cette direction et je crois que finalement ce que nous arrivons à produire avec notre bande d'Eniarofer c'est une sorte de cohésion familiale et festive même si on ne se retrouve que 1 ou 2 fois par an le retour du public qui nous connait est que l'ambiance dans un Eniarof et difficilement comparable à autre chose.

Ensuite il y eu une petite évolution ces dernières année car lors du Eniarof 12 c'est carrément la Ville de Poitiers qui a fait appel à nous pour occuper un espace du Parc de Blossac dans la continuité de leur fête foraine de Noël. Eniarof est une fête assez polymorph qui a un tas de représentation et organisation différentes selon le contexte où nous sommes. Les Eniarof que nous avons mené à Aix-en-provence ou en Slovénie dans des structures qui nous font confiance étaient l'occasion de vrai laboratoires de résidence pour quasiment construire en un temps court (2 à 3 semaines) essentiellement de nouvelles attractions. Dans les autres Eniarof c'est un 50/50 de nouveautés et d'attractions qui roulent déjà bien et garantissent la bonne ambiance.

There is an ENIAROF dogma, however, the event is still in the hands of a lot of improvisation, DIY, freedom, and collective efforts. So i suspect that things might not always run smoothly. What have you learnt over the editions of ENIAROF?

Le DogmeNiarof est surtout là pour donner le ton et une idée de l'esprit dans lequel se déroule un Eniarof après effectivement on est très rarement dans le respect intégral des règles du dogmeniarof. (je vais te donner un lien URL du dogme on est en train de refaire le site)

What works, what doesn't?

On dit en général que ce qui ne marche plus lors d'un Eniarof est quelque chose qui a bien marché. Par exemple cette année on un jeu d'escrime sonore qui a super bien marché. Tellement que dés le 1° soir quelqu'un a arraché le dispositif de câble du mur. Ce qui est génial et prouve qu'une attraction marche c'est quand on n'a même pas à expliquer aux gens comment jouer avec notre attraction.

I'm curious about some of the projects shown during the last ENIAROF in Aix-en-Provence. In particular: the Wheelbarrow (Brouette tuning), Helmetron, and Arcade Concrete. Could you tell us a few words about these works?

Brouette Tuning est apparue en 2007 pour le Eniarof en SLovénie et fût présenté à 4 ou 5 Eniarof depuis. C'est une pièce de Maxime Berthou aka Monsieur Moo. C'est un symbole concentré en un objet de ce qu'est Enairof : de la récupération pimpée, un zeste de technologie, de la mobilité et beaucoup de fun. La brouette c'est notre meilleur moyen pour attirer du monde. Il suffit de sortir dans la rue avec et les gens ce demandent c'est quoi cette ovni.

Helmetron est une création de Alexandre Saunier qui a quasiment drivé Eniarof en trio avec Douglas Edric Stanley et moi.
Quelque mot de l'auteur pour quelques explications :
"""""
C'est un instrument lumineux et sonore pour ordinateur. Un peu comme le luminophone d'Isaac Asimov dans le cycle des fondations mais ici c'est l'ordinateur qui est l'interprète. Au final on plonge dans au coeur meme de l'ordi et on vit ses flux de données, on est stimulé au fil de ses fichiers qu'il lit et qu'il transforme en lumière et en sons. C'est glitch, c'est hardcore, ca fait un peu pensé à une dream machine numérique, c'est un peu comme Tron mais sans les effets spéciaux à la Disney.

Pour les anecdotes, mes deux préféré:

-> un mec a enlevé le casque et m'a dit
"Y'a quoi comme couleur dans le casque?"
"y'a que du orange, c'est tout ce que j'envoie comme lumière pour le moment"
"Ah. j'me demandais, perso j'ai vu du vert, du bleu, du blanc et du orange."

-> y'a une nana qui avait des secouses/frémissements de temps en temps, j'ai eu peur qu'elle soit épileptyque d'ailleurs^^
quand elle a enlevé le casque elle m'a dit qu'elle avait l'impression d'avoir des petits animaux, genre insectes, qui se baladait sur elle.

Sinon ce qui est intéressant c'est que la réaction des gens est toujours différente et dépend de leur physiologie/système nerveux, certain voients des cercles, des fractales, des couleurs...

www.alexandresaunier.com .
"""""
Ce qui m'a séduit dans sa pièce est le côté Orange Mécanique 2.0 auxquels je pense peu de gens auraient adhéré dans un autre contexte mais là on avait une queue de gens qui voulaient scanner les méandres de l'ordinateur. C'est une de nos réussite dans Eniarof en mélangeant des choses à la fois borderline et conceptuel on arrive à embarquer le public dans plein d'expériences différentes et il s'y livre avec plaisir.

Arcade Concrete

C'est un projet que j'ai réalisé avec Manuel Braun avec qui j'ai réalisé plusieurs pièces (Patch&ko, Eggregor8, MadNes, Domoludens, spongegame...) qui tournent souvent autour de l'idée que l'interface de jeu peut être un matériaux de sculpture comme un autre qui implique des mécanismes et formes particulières liées au gameplay du software. Un peu comme si chaque jeu vidéo pouvait avoir une matérialisation de son interface physique autre que standardisé et qui impliquerai une relecture de son gameplay. Le contexte du jeu est un bel espace d'observation de nos comportements. les salles de bornes d'arcades dans les années 80-90 jouaient pour nous ce rôle d'espace physique et communautaire du jeu vidéo. Les salles d'arcades ont ensuite disparu au profit des jeu en salon. Et finalement le jeu vidéo est revenu dans l'urbain au travers des dispositif mobiles. Arcade Concrete est un questionnement sur la place du jeu vidéo dans l'espace urbain. Ce n'est pas la même chose de jouer sur son iphone dans le metro que de s'afficher devant tout le monde debout entrain de jouer devant une borne. Il y a maintenant une borne qui trône à l'entrée de l'école d'Art d'Aix-en-provence et c'est devenu un lieu de discussion. Notre idée est de multiplier les performances en coulant des bornes un peu partout dans le monde. Un peu à la Invaders qui pose ses mosaïques nous on va chercher à optimiser la pose d'une borne et on va rédiger un mode d'emploie dans le livre Eniarof.

And if you had to chose 5 projects shown at ENIAROF over the years, which ones would they be?

On a pas mal de projets qui sont devenu des "best playable" et les plus exposés comme :
hyperolympic de Djeff Regottaz et Loic Horellou où vous jouez à un remake de track'n field avec une interface de jeu très physique qui est devenu maintenant un incontournable des festivals pour mettre la grosse ambiance.


The Hyper Olympic Party - Parizon@dream - Gaïté Lyrique - June 9, 2012 - Dekalko

et Eggregor8 de Manuel Braun et moi où vous jouez à Pacman mais à 8 en même temps comme si vous étiez 8 sur la même manette

C'est drôle d'ailleurs car il y a eu en 2010 une exposition dans l'espace 13-16 du centre Pompidou sur le jeu vidéo et ils ont invité essentiellement des pièces Eniarof sans même se rendre compte qu'il y avait un lien entre nous.

On pourrait appeler ça le BeaubourgNiarof

Il y a aussi la pièce "A battre" de Raphael Isdant qu'il avait créé lors du deuxième Eniarof à Aix-en-Provence et qui depuis à aussi beaucoup tourné


Raphael Isdant, A BATTRE

ensuite in y a des pièces plus inattendus ou très spécifique à Eniarof Aix-en-provence

comme Pogo Tamponeuse un ring de combat où vous devez enfiler une combinaison en pneu pour affronter votre adversaire.
vidéo prochainement

ou encore combat de Fucking Machine qui était border line et complètement surréaliste.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/atoimage/10856699295/in/set-72157637674537996
http://www.flickr.com/photos/atoimage/10856672265/in/set-72157637674537996

The dogma mentions that ENIAROF has to take place in the proximity of an Emmaüs. Could you tell us why?

Dans le dogme93 de Lars von trier et Thomas Vinterberg il est souvent question d'une économie de moyen. Mon but quand j'ai monté Eniarof était de ne pas tomber dans l'excès des projets qui engloutissent trop d'argent car tout simplement je voyais bien qu'il n'y avait pas de budget pour les jeunes artistes. Je traînais souvent à l'époque dans les Emmaus et je voyais qu'il y avait beaucoup de matériaux dont les Emmaus ne savaient pas forcément quoi faire. En plus c'est souvent agréable de recycler un objet on a l'impression d'avoir fait un acte écolo.

Another thing that surprised me int he dogma is that the barman is paid as much as an artist. Why do you think it is important that every participant receives the same fee?

Au début de ma carrière d'artiste j'étais horrifié de voir que le vigile ou le barman était mieux payé que moi sur un festival. Je me demandais quel avenir pour nous artiste si on était obligé de se brader juste pour s'exposer. En plus dans ce festival ma pièce s'est en plus faite détruire à la fin. La tendance c'est heureusement inversé pour moi mais c'était un peu une règle pour me rappeler à moi même si je dois inviter des artistes que je ne les brades pas come on m'avait bradé moi.

What is next for ENIAROF?

on a un livre en cours de réalisation
d'ailleurs on a un appel au don ... J'ai pas encore l'URL du KissKiss

et on a eu pas mal de bon contact pour réaliser d'autres Eniarof d'ailleurs de l'autre côté de l'Atlantique et au bord de la Méditerranée mais encore rien de validé donc je ne m'avancerai pas trop.

Merci Antonin!

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Thomas Cimolaï, Trophies from the Sixth Continent, 2010. Photo Patrick Galais

Another focus on one of the artworks i discovered at the GAMERZ festival in Aix-en-Provence in October...

The Trophies from the 6th Continent are lifeless, plastic 'skins' of computer generated models found in 3D environments. Deflated of any volume nor life, they were hanging in the gallery of the Ecole d'Art of Aix-en-Provence like bloodless carcasses. Cimolaï tracked down these hunting preys on the 'sixth continent', the land of our 3D digital entertainment made of video games, special effects, post-production works, etc.

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Thomas Cimolaï, Trophies from the Sixth Continent, 2010. Installation view at the GAMERZ festival. Photo Luce Moreau

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Thomas Cimolaï, Trophies from the Sixth Continent, 2010. Installation view at the GAMERZ festival. Photo Luce Moreau

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Thomas Cimolaï, Trophies from the Sixth Continent, 2010. Photo Luce Moreau

The concept and result are quite simple. Yet, they are brilliant. The empty plastic parts of vehicles are pitiful and you can't help feeling sorry for these former glories of the screen.

Scroll down if you want to read the original french version of Thomas Cimolaï's answers.

Hi Thomas! I read that the objects you brought into the gallery were originally protected by copyrights. Where did you find these objects? And why do you call them trophies?

The Trophies from the Sixth Continent constitute a fiction collection. The whole process is based on "an adventure story" developed from gestures made with a computer - vision, research, tracking, targeting, intrusion into forbidden territories and capture. The Sixth Continent is the land accessible through screens and through data transmission technology (in this case, internet). The collection includes the debris of computer generated objects found on the web and originally intended for video games and special effects.

Why was it important for you to engage with shapes protected by copy rights?

The attack on copyright is part of the game.


And once you've extracted these objects from their original universe, what remains of their copyright?

I think there's nothing left, just like their shape and their initial state. They are out of order :).

What was the creation process that led from 3D virtual forms to these deflated, miserable bits of flying engines? How did you make them?

I was surfing on the net looking for a hat for a project inspired by the novel The Invisible Man when some objects attracted my attention. Engines belonging to memories of television such as the Iraq war, games or mythical fictions (Airwolf , Platoon, etc.) and that were all destined to simulation in video games and movie post- production. There began a fiction where the challenge was to be the main mode of relationship to my subject. Once the objects had been acquired, I looked for the technical way to understand their construction so that, gradually, I could disassemble their mechanism, as if it were a dissection, an anatomy. Once they had been re-appropriated, I decided to push the craziness further. The objects were pulled out of the screens, their original environment, and I brought them back to the "real" sometimes on a one-to-one scale. By doing so, I could appreciate the availability of their heads, of their wheels and other means of traveling or of their antennas and other detection tools. They were stripped of their power.

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Thomas Cimolaï, Trophies from the Sixth Continent, 2010. Photo Patrick Galais

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Thomas Cimolaï, Trophies from the Sixth Continent, 2010. Photo Patrick Galais

I fell really sorry for these objects. Am i slightly deranged or were you expecting these trophies to trigger some emotions in people?



There was absolutely no premeditation to cause emotions. I work with what I have in me, which is a certain way to look at issues related to freedom, to the industrial cultural object and to our relations with digital interfaces. This project embraces the concepts of play and power and also the desire to own. Everything is voluntarily orchestrated with symbolism and a mock-heroic tone.

0WEB-Cimolai-(C)P.GALAIS-16.jpg
Thomas Cimolaï, Trophies from the Sixth Continent, 2010. Photo Patrick Galais

How do people used to see these objects 'alive' in video games react to the work?

They come not only from video games but also from special effects. The most recognized one is the big black head of the stealth aircraft called F-117 Nighthawk which first appeared in conflicts broadcast on TV and soon after in games Night Storm, Empire Earth or Zero Hour which I have not played. Then, because the collection is partitioned into categories relating to motor, sensory devices.... few people can remember which wheel, radar or reactor belongs to which vehicle. The younger generations tell me that "it's cool" or "that's interesting" and will see the logic of simulation and of video games pushed to their limits.

Merci Thomas!

------------------------------

Version française de l'entretien:

I read that the objects you brought into the gallery were originally protected by copyrights. Where did you find these objects? And why do you call them trophies?

Les trophées du sixième continent constituent une collection fiction. Toute la démarche est basée sur « un récit d'aventure » élaboré à partir des gestes effectués avec un ordinateur - vision, recherche, traque, ciblage, intrusion en territoires défendus et capture. Le sixième continent est le territoire accessible par les écrans et par les technologies de transmissions de données (ici, internet). La collection regroupe des dépouilles d'objets de synthèses trouvés sur la toile et destinés à l'origine aux jeux vidéos et aux effets spéciaux. 



Why was it important for you to engage with shapes protected by copyrights?

L'attaque du copyright fait partie du jeu.



And once you've extracted these objects from their original universe, what remains of their copyright?


Je crois qu'il n'en reste rien, comme de leur forme et de leur état initial. Ils sont hors service :).



What was the creation process that led from 3D virtual forms to these deflated, pitiful bits of flying engines? How did you make them?



J'étais sur le net à la recherche d'un chapeau pour un projet inspiré du roman de l'homme invisible quand certains objets ont attirés mon attention. Des engins appartenant à des souvenirs de télévision comme la guerre d'Irak, de jeux ou encore à des fictions mythiques (Supercopter, Platoon...) et qui avaient tous comme destinés la simulation dans des jeux vidéo ou la post-production cinématographique.
Une fiction où le défi serait le principal mode de relation à mon sujet commençait. Une fois les objets acquis, j'ai cherché le moyen technique d'en comprendre la construction pour petit à petit en démonter la mécanique, comme une dissection, une anatomie. Une fois réappropriés, je décidais d'aller plus loin dans le délire.
Les objets ont été extirpés de leur milieu initial, c'est-à-dire les écrans, et je les ai ramené dans le « réel » parfois à l'échelle un. Ainsi je pouvais apprécier la mise à disposition de leurs têtes, de leurs roues et autres moyens de déplacements ou encore de leurs antennes et autres outils de détection. Ils étaient défaits de leur pouvoir.

I fell really sorry for these objects. Am i slightly deranged or were you expecting these trophies to trigger some emotions in people?



Absolument pas d'émotions à provoquer de manière préméditée. J'ai fonctionné avec ce qui me constitue, c'est à dire un certain regard sur les questions liées à la liberté, à l'objet culturel industriel et à nos relations avec les interfaces numériques. Ce projet embrasse des notions de jeu et de puissance et aussi de désir de possession. Le tout mis volontairement en scène avec du symbolisme et sur un ton heroï-comique.



How do people used to see these objects 'alive' in video games react to the work?

Ils n'appartiennent pas seulement aux jeux vidéos mais aussi aux effets spéciaux. Celui qui est le plus reconnu est la grande tête noire de l'avion furtif dénommé Faucon de nuit - Nightfalcon f117 qui est d'abord apparu dans les conflits retransmis à la télévision puis a rapidement été le sujet des jeux Night Storm, Empire Earth ou encore Heure H auxquels je n'ai pas joué. Ensuite, comme la collection est compartimentée en catégories relatives à la motricité, aux appareils sensitifs..., peu de personnes peuvent se rappeler à quel véhicule appartient telle roue, telle réacteur ou encore tel radar. Les générations plus jeunes me disent que « c'est cool » ou encore « c'est intéressant » et y voient la logique de la simulation et des jeux vidéos poussés à leurs paroxysmes.

Merci Thomas!

Previously:
Constance, an installation in weightlessness.

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The new episode of #A.I.L - artists in laboratories, the weekly radio programme about art and science i present on ResonanceFM, London's favourite radio art station, is aired tomorrow Wednesday afternoon at 4pm.

My guest in the show will be Alex Fleetwood who founded London-based Hide&Seek in 2007. Hide&Seek is a game design studio which re-imagines public space as a place to play. They create new games and experiences, curate and support the work of artists and designers, and right now they are working on games inspired by a month-long Christmas party that King William III held at Kensington Palace in 1699.

Alex is going to talk about big and tiny games, digital design and the importance of play in contemporary culture.

The radio show will be aired this Wednesday 27 November at 16:00, London time. Early risers can catch the repeat next Tuesday at 6.30 am. If you don't live in London, you can listen to the online stream or wait till we upload the episodes on soundcloud.

How much does the practice of video games affect our imagination? Are video games shaping our perception of reality or is it our perception of reality that shapes the imagination behind video games?

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Robert Overweg, Stairway to the sky 2011, Mafia 2

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Robert Overweg, Hotel 2011, Mafia 2

On the one hand, the move from 2D image to 3D image in video games has accelerated the race to ultra-realism. Ironically, reality has been lost in the process. By striving to mimic reality, 3D images become hyper realistic, they are slick and clean to the point of looking almost unreal. A game supposed to reflect life ends up proposing only a constructed reflect of life. This reflection, in turn, influences the way we see and imagine our surrounding.

On the other hand, we've been observing a revival of pixelated, ASCII, Cubist or simply geometric games. They give more room for imagination and reflection, as if the mind could fill the spaces between the pixels, the voids, the geometric shapes.

Games Reflexions, an exhibition that will open next week in Cergy, France, investigates how gaming is reflecting and influencing our perception of reality. And vice versa.

I found these questions of interpretation, representation and reflection interesting but then I think that it is my duty to take an interest in what Isabelle Arvers is working on. Isabelle is the curator of the exhibition, she is also a media art critic, an author and one of the most respected and most astute experts of video games in France.

I'm looking forward to visiting the exhibitions she curated in Aix-en-Provence this month. One about machinimas for the GAMERZ festival. The other, about 21st century borders. In the meantime, i asked her to talk to me about Games Reflexions.
(If you scroll down, you will also find the original version in french of Isabelle's answers.)


Christoffer Hedborg, Cathode Rays


Simogo, Year Walk. Trailer

Hi Isabelle! Why do you think that now is a good time to reflect upon gaming? And more particularly about the relationship between our perception/construction of reality and video games.

I don't know if this is the right time but it seems to me that gaming has adopted different forms and directions which allow us to approach it through a more complex lens than in the past. Games studies were developed in the 80s and they made it possible to look at gaming under various perspectives: psychoanalysis, economy, philosophy, political science, etc. The reflection about the video game issue is nothing new. However, gaming is starting to be perceived differently by the public and the media, so it seemed appropriate to support this trend by raising the issue in an exhibition located in a contemporary art space.

The issue of perception is very important to me ever since i wrote a dissertation about the virtual in the mid- 90s when I was wondering the impact that the virtual could have on our bodies and minds. I'm still asking myself this kind of question: each technique, software or language influences our way of seeing things, of approaching reality. But what about video games? One day, some students (and fans of video game) told me that they dreamt in computer-generated images, and even preferred this type of image to the ones they saw on TV, because they were more beautiful. I confess that I was deeply impressed by their remark.

I then thought that video games affect our imagination just like tales did once. Since I started creating machinima, I haven't looked at cities and the movement in the cities in the way I used to, it looks as if people are moving like in the games... Any ideas related to other realities impress me too. While thinking about this exhibition, I thought about Plato's cave, about these ideas which we perceive only through their reflection. The idea that there are parallel worlds attracts me and I 'd love to imagine them through games.

I am still waiting for computer-generated images to refer to something that is not seen, I expect them to lead me to the other side... Most games that try to mimic reality produce an image too sleek, too smooth, that seems far removed from what I would like to discover. That is why when I found the compilation Pirate Kart and the amount of games with universes so diverse, trash and funny, I wanted to go into this direction and exhibit them in a gallery. What made me particularly happy during the Pirate Kart exhibition at the ESAix gallery was that people told me that it gave them confidence, that they made this kind of games at home but didn't think it would interest anyone else. It's a bit like opening a world of possibles and extracting pearls from the game jams world and from the independent games circles to make the broader public discover them.


Titouan Millet, A Cosmic Forest - Trailer

The exhibition talks also about the quest for hyper-reality, are you already seeing interesting game experiences that use the Oculus Rift? is this something you're following or are excited about?

That's funny because this weekend, at the festival Retro no Future Games Festival at Visages du Monde - which also commissioned the exhibition Games Reflexion - the game Cosmic Forest by Evilion was presented with Oculus Rift and we're getting there!! In the game, we cross lines and columns of colors, as if we could slide between the ropes... This direction of work is interesting insofar as you get immersed inside the image, the perception of your eyes takes central stage and manages to mislead the rest of the body.

What I find particularly interesting today is this physical dimension that some games can adopt, allowing us to live different experiences with other human beings. I am thinking here of Blast Theory's pervasive games which, through games that are played both online and in public space, look at the new kinds of relationships that technology can create at the corner of a street corner. Or the game Johann Sebastian Joust which plays with the contact between players listening to the rhythm of the music. How gaming can take us to another place without it being necessarily a virtual world. I also like the approach of Florian Rivière who transforms any space into a playground and establishes the concept of game through the smallest details: objects found on the street and re-purposed to become table football, golf shoes, turnstiles... It is in this spirit that David Calvo created the game Scintillations for the Games Reflexions exhibition. It reminds us that everyone must set up their own show and that everyone can play with the content, and re-appropriate it.


Robson, YYYYYY


Atari 2600 Breakout Gameplay

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Nicolas Cannasse, Evoland

The exhibition text talks about the revival for pixelated, ASCII and geometrical games in the indie game scene. Are the people who develop and play retro game the people who grew up with the games produced in the 1980s and 1990s. Or is this an entirely new generation? And by that question i guess i mean also "is this a question of nostalgia or aesthetics'?

Most of the time, it's the new generation that creates this kind of pixelated, cubic or geometric video games. Of course, some are older and have a certain nostalgia for the aesthetics of 1980s games but I think that the key is not in the nostalgia. First of all, there is a reaction to the ultra clean aesthetic of mainstream games. There is also the desire to express yourself with the new tools currently available. So I think it's mostly a matter of aesthetics, of finding your own, whether it is closer to drawing, cubism, watercolor, pixel or 3D. I feel that there is a desire to think outside the box and to offer something else. Anne Roquigny was telling me this afternoon that the same phenomenon happens in online creativity today: the comeback of the gifs animated, of neon colors and of an aesthetic more or less close to the one of 1990s net.art. Both the web are the design tools are more accessible so creativity expresses itself in all kinds of directions. And I do not think that we're speaking about nostalgia here either, mainly because this movement is unknown to new generations!

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Aniwey, Candy Box


Merrit Kopas, HUGPUNX


Zak Ayles, PUNKSNOTDEAD

Do you see 'arty', independent games ideas and trends (such as retogaming) filtering into the commercial gaming world?

Yes, very much. As soon as a new "niche" appears, marketing lays its hands on it. That's how the Playstation has its indie corner. Or why, for example, many complained about the excessive presence of sponsors with booths such as the Nintendo one during the last IndieCade. The "indie game" has become a new standard, an argument that sells. The success of games like Limbo and Minecraft have opened a new path. The use of old games or pixelated aesthetic is recurrent on mobile platforms. Yes, it has grown into a real business which, in this case, very often plays on nostalgia ...


Carjacked (After Barbara Kruger), Colleo, 2013

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Carjacked (Racing after Hirst), Colleo, 2012

Carjacked, one of the works you selected for Games Reflexions, consists of 17 BMW cars created by Coll.eo with the Livery editor of the videogame Forza Motorsport 4 for the Xbox 360. The cars are customized 'by' famous contemporary artists. It is also a parody of the contemporary art world. But if the world of gaming is looking at the world of contemporary art, is the opposite true? Are art galleries, museums and collectors interesting in video games?

When MOMA added video games to its collection, even if it was in the department of design, it caused a stir in the contemporary art world. Gallery and museum initiatives are still relatively rare. The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam produced, two years ago I think, three games co-designed by artists and game designers. Game art exhibitions are still fairly marginal in this type of cultural structures. The Arcade exhibition in France toured many national exhibition spaces. This kind of exhibition is usually initiated by independent structures such as the collective Babycastles in the United States. The Cité des Sciences in Paris is about to host a major exhibition about video games but this is not a Museum of Contemporary Art. I feel, but I could be wrong, that for the moment this kind of creation follows the same parallel logic as media art. However, some artists like Miltos Manetas, Invader and Cory Arcangel who are close to the world of video games are definitely present in the art world. It is actually becoming difficult to show their work outside that network ... ;)

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Harun Farocki, Parallel (still), 2012. Two-channel video installation

I'm always completely blown away by the selection of video games that you make for the GAMERZ festival every year. I'm also obviously impressed by your knowledge and understanding of the game scene. Are there any books, websites, blogs or other resources you could recommend to people who are not so versed into the world of video game but would like to know more about it?

Thank you! I feel the same about we- make-money-not- art! More than books -even though I recommend Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, by Anna Anthropy, and The Art of Immersion, by Franck Rose, which I liked a lot- I strongly believe in the network. The network of artists, designers and game developers. They are my first resource. I follow the twitter accounts of developers, the Facebook accounts of close and not-so-close friends from the world of video game, 8 bit music or digital art. One of the best references for me is the gamescenes.org site. For the exhibition Reflections Games, I asked Peter Corbinais of Oujevipo for a few tips and he sent me some fifty references! I am also very attentive to what is happening in schools in France and abroad. I follow the projects of the LA Game Space, the Game Department led by Eddo Stern at UCLA. Another resource that has thaught me a lot is the Scratchware manifesto written in 2000 and republished by Mike Myer one or two years ago.


Might and Delight, Shelter

And does the work of a video game curator involve daily hours of video game playing?

The preparation of an exhibition requires a lot of that. The rest of the time I do what i can, especially when I'm traveling. But my job obviously involves playing and it's been going on for a while. However, if we look at this year as an example, I spent more time working on issues of borders than playing. Even if there are two games in the antiAtlas des frontières exhibition, that's not what prevails. Playing takes time and I don't have much to spare. However, what is great is that what comes out of most game jams are mainly games that can be played quite fast, and that's brilliant for me! That said, I also spend a lot of time making machinimas during workshops and again they require me to practice. I actually dream of a residency where I'd spend several months testing every conceivable games to create the best machinimas...

Merci Isabelle!

Games Reflexions runs from 19 October until 30 November 2013 at Le Carreau in Cergy.

Isabelle Arvers has two other shows that just opened in France: Machiniglitch, at ARCADE, Festival Gamerz and The antiAtlas of Borders, at the Tapestry Museum, Aix-en-Provence.

See also this other interview i made with her 3 years ago: Machinimas at the GAMERZ festival.


Santa Ragione and Paolo Tajé, Mirror Moon


The Fullbright Company, Gone Home

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And now for the original version in french:

Bonjour Isabelle! Why do you think that now is a good time to reflect upon gaming? And more particularly about the relationship between our perception/construction of reality and video games.

Je ne sais pas si c'est le bon moment mais il me semble que le jeu a pris différentes formes et directions qui permettent de l'envisager dans une plus grande complexité qu'auparavant. Les games studies se sont développées dès les années 80 et ont permis d'appréhender le jeu sous différentes facettes : de la psychanalyse, à l'économie, en passant par la phylosophie, la science politique, etc. La réflexion liée à la question du jeu vidéo n'est donc pas nouvelle, par contre, le jeu commence à être perçu différemment par le public, les médias, il me semble donc bon d'accompagner ce mouvement en posant cette question au sein d'une exposition dans un espace d'art contemporain.

La question de la perception est pour moi très importante et ce, depuis mon mémoire sur le virtuel écrit au milieu des années 90 où je me demandais comment le virtuel pouvait influencer notre corps et notre esprit ? Je continue à me poser ce type de question : chaque technique, logiciel, langage influence notre manière de concevoir les choses et d'appréhender le réel, du coup qu'en est-il pour les jeux vidéo ? Un jour, des étudiants, fans de jeu vidéo, m'avaient dit rêver en images de synthèse et même préférer ce type d'image à celle qu'ils pouvaient voir à la télé, parce que c'était plus beau. J'avoue que cela m'a profondément marquée.

Je me suis dit alors dit que les jeux vidéo influencent notre imaginaire comme le faisaient autrefois les contes. Depuis que je fais des machinimas, je ne vois pas non plus les villes ni le mouvement dans les villes de la même manière, j'ai la sensation que les gens avancent comme dans les jeux... Toutes les idées liées à d'autres réalités me séduisent aussi. En réfléchissant à cette exposition, j'ai repensé à la caverne de Platon, à ces idées dont nous ne percevons que le reflet. L'idée qu'il y ait des mondes parallèles m'attire et j'aimerais beaucoup les imaginer à travers des jeux.

J'attends encore que des images de synthèse me renvoient à quelque chose qui ne se voit pas, j'attends qu'elles m'amènent de l'autre côté... Alors que pour la plupart des jeux qui cherchent à mimer la réalité, ils ne produisent qu'une image trop nette, trop lisse, qui me semble bien éloignée de ce que j'aimerais y découvrir. C'est pourquoi, quand j'ai découvert la compilation Pirate Kart et la quantité de jeux aux univers si divers, trash et drôles, j'ai eu envie d'aller dans cette direction et de les montrer dans le cadre d'une galerie. Lors de l'exposition de la Pirate Kart à la galerie de l'ESAix , ce qui m'a fait le plus plaisir c'est que des personnes m'ont dit que ça leur redonnait confiance, qu'ils faisaient ce genre de jeux chez eux mais ne pensaient pas que ça puisse intéresser qui que ce soit. C'est un peu l'envie d'ouvrir des possibles et de faire sortir ces perles du monde des game jams et du cercle des jeux indépendants afin de les faire découvrir au plus grand nombre.

The exhibition talks also about the quest for hyper-reality, are you already seeing interesting game experiences that use the Oculus Rift? is this something you're following or are excited about?

C'est amusant car justement ce week-end, dans le cadre du festival Retro no Future Games Festival à Visages du Monde - qui est aussi le commanditaire de l'exposition Games Reflexion - le jeu Cosmic Forest d'Evilion était présenté avec Oculus Rift et là on touche presque au but !! Dans ce jeu, on parcourt des lignes et des colonnes de couleurs, comme si on pouvait passer entre les cordes... Cette direction de travail est intéressante dans la mesure où on s'immerge dans l'image, la perception de ce que voient nos yeux devient alors prédominante et parvient à induire le reste du corps en erreur.

Ce qui m'intéresse le plus aujourd'hui c'est justement l'aspect physique que peuvent prendre certains jeux et nous permettre de vivre des expériences différentes entre êtres humains. Je pense ici aux jeux pervasifs des Blast Theory qui au travers de jeux qui se jouent en ligne et dans l'espace public, s'intéressent aux nouveaux types de relations que les technologies peuvent créer au détour d'une rue, d'un obstacle. Ou encore au jeu Johann Sebastian Joust qui joue sur le contact entre des joueurs à l'écoute du rythme de la musique. Comment le jeu peut nous emmener ailleurs sans que ce soit pour autant uniquement dans un univers virtuel. J'aime aussi beaucoup la démarche de Florian Rivière qui transforme tout espace en un terrain de jeu, qui réintègre la notion de jeu grâce au plus petit détail : des choses trouvées dans la rue détournées pour devenir des baby foot, des terrains de baskets, un tourniquet... C'est dans cet esprit que le jeu Scintillations de David Calvo a été créé pour l'exposition Games Reflexion. Il vient rappeler que chacun doit se faire sa propre exposition et que chacun peut jouer avec les contenus, les détourner se les approprier.

The exhibition text talks about the revival for pixelated, ASCII and geometrical games in the indie game scene. Are the people who develop and play retro game the people who grew up with the games produced in the 1980s and 1990s. Or is this an entirely new generation? And by that question i guess i mean also "is this a question of nostalgia or aesthetics'?

C'est très souvent la nouvelle génération qui crée ce type de jeux vidéo pixellisés, cubiques ou géométriques. Bien entendu il y en a qui sont plus âgés et qui ont une certaine nostalgie pour l'esthétique des jeux des années 80, mais je pense que l'essentiel n'est pas dans la nostalgie. Il y a tout d'abord une réaction vis à vis dune esthétique trop propre des jeux mainstream. Il y a aussi l'envie de s'exprimer avec les nouveaux outils accessibles aujourd'hui. Je pense donc que c'est surtout une question d'esthétique, de trouver la sienne en propre, qu'elle soit proche du dessin, du cubisme, de l'aquarelle, du pixel ou de la 3D, j'ai la sensation qu'il y a une envie de sortir des sentiers battus et de proposer autre chose. Anne Roquigny me faisait remarquer tout à l'heure qu'il se passe exactement la même chose dans la création en ligne aujourd'hui : c'est le grand retour des gifs animés, des couleurs fluo et d'une esthétique plus ou moins proche de celle du net.art des années 90. Le web est plus accessible, les outils de conception le sont aussi alors la création s'exprime dans toutes les directions. Et je ne pense pas qu'il s'agisse de nostalgie là non plus, principalement parce que ce mouvement est très méconnu des nouvelles générations !

Do you see 'arty', independent games ideas and trends (such as retogaming) filtering into the commercial gaming world?

Oui, énormément. Dès qu'il y a un nouveau « créneau » le marketing s'en empare. C'est ainsi que Playstation a son carré inde, que lors du dernier Indiecade, beaucoup se sont plaint de la trop forte présence des sponsors avec des stands comme celui de Nintendo par exemple. Le « jeu indé » est devenu une nouvelle référence, un argument qui fait vendre. Les succès de jeux comme Limbo ou Minecraft ont ouvert une nouvelle voie. Le recours aux anciens jeux ou aux esthétiques pixellisées est récurrent sur les plateformes mobiles, oui c'est devenu un véritable business qui ici, joue très souvent sur la nostalgie...

Carjacked consists of 17 BMW cars created by Coll.eo with the Livery editor of the videogame Forza Motorsport 4 for the Xbox 360. The cars are customized 'by' famous contemporary artists. It is also a parody of the contemporary art world. But if the world of gaming is looking at the world of contemporary art, is the opposite true? Are art galleries, museums and collectors interesting in video games?

Lorsque le MOMA a intégré des jeux dans sa collection, même si c'est dans le département du design, cela a fait grand bruit dans le monde de l'art contemporain. Pour autant les initiatives de galeries ou musées sont encore assez rares. Le Stedelijk Museum à Amsterdam avait produit il y a deux ans je crois trois jeux conçus conjointement par des artistes et des game designers. Les expositions de game art ont encore assez peu lieu au sein de structures culturelles de ce type. L'exposition Arcade en France a tourné dans de nombreuses scènes nationales. Ce genre d'exposition est plutôt le fait d'indépendants comme le collectif Babycastle aux Etats Unis. La Cité des Sciences à Paris va bientôt accueillir une exposition importante de jeux vidéo mais on ne peut pas parler de Musée d'art contemporain. J'ai l'impression, mais je peux me tromper que pour l'instant ce type de création suit la même logique parallèle de diffusion que celle du media art. Par contre quelques artistes comme Miltos Manetas, Invader ou Cory Arcangel, que l'on peut rapprocher de l'univers des jeux vidéo sont bien présents dans le monde de l'art, il devient d'ailleurs difficile de les montrer en dehors de ce circuit... ;)

I'm always completely blown away by the selection of video games that you make for the GAMERZ festival every year. I'm also obviously impressed by your knowledge and understanding of the game scene. Are there any books, websites, blogs or other resources you could recommend to people who are not so versed into the world of video game but would like to know more about it?

Merci ! J'en aurais autant à dire de we-make-money-not-art !! Plus que des livres même si je recommande Rise of the Videogame Zinesters d'Anna Anthropy et The art of immersion de Franck Rose que j'ai beaucoup appréciés, je crois fortement au réseau. Au réseau d'artistes, de créateurs et de game developers, ce sont eux qui sont ma première ressource. Je suis les comptes twitters de développeurs, les comptes Facebook d'amis proches ou lointains du monde du jeu, de la musique 8 bit ou de l'art numérique. Une des meilleures références reste pour moi le site gamescenes.org. Pour l'exposition Games Reflexions, j'ai demandé quelques conseils à Pierre Corbinais du site Oujevipo et il m'a envoyé une cinquantaine de références ! Je suis aussi très à l'écoute de ce qui se passe dans les écoles en France et à l'étranger. Je suis ce qui sort du LA Game Space du département jeu de UCLA dirigé par Eddo Stern. Une autre ressource qui m'a beaucoup apporté est le Scratchware manifesto apparu en 2000 et republié ensuite par Mike Myer il y a un an ou deux.

And does the work of a video game curator involve daily hours of video game playing?

Pour la préparation d'une exposition ça en demande énormément, le reste du temps c'est comme je peux, surtout dans les transports. Mais c'est sûr que mon travail implique de jouer et que ça commence à faire un moment que ça dure ! Par contre, si on prend cette année en exemple, j'ai beaucoup plus travaillé sur la question des frontières que passé du temps à jouer, même si il y a deux jeux dans l'exposition antiAtlas des frontières antiatlas.net, ce n'est pas ce qui prédomine. Jouer demande du temps et ce n'est pas ce que j'ai le plus, par contre, ce qui est génial dans la plupart des game jams c'est qu'il en ressort beaucoup de jeux qui se jouent assez vite, et ça pour moi c'est formidable ! Ceci étant dit, je passe aussi beaucoup de temps à réaliser des machinimas dans le cadre d'ateliers et là aussi il faut pratiquer, d'ailleurs je rêve d'une résidence me permettant de passer plusieurs mois à tester tous les jeux possibles et imaginables pour réaliser au mieux des machinimas...

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