One of the best surprises of this year’s edition of the GAMERZ festival in Aix en Provence was a work that mixed clips from cult movies with gaming dynamics. Using 2 buttons and a joystick, visitors can navigate inside movie sequences from The Shining, Jurassic Park, The Blair Witch Project, Old Boy or Rocky. The main actor becomes an avatar and you can delay the inescapable moment when the little boy in The Shining bumps into the evil-looking twins or you can give a couple of extra kick and lengthen the fight that opposed Bruce Lee to Chuck Norris in Way of the Dragon

This year, even GAMERZ, an art&tech festival with a name that promises tis visitors much joy and entertainment, didn’t want to turn its back to the times of fear and uncertainty we are living. The festival was as playful as ever but with a slightly darker tone and with a selection of artists whose works question the worrying changes at work in society

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A quick post about The Art of Chess, an exhibition of 16 chess sets designed by some of the biggest names in contemporary art. Hirst has a medicine cabinet, Tracey Emin a chess set that looks slightly unhygienic, Paul McCarthy adds ketchup, Yayoi Kusama goes for dots, and the Chapman brothers do it dark and provocative. Most of the artists are playing their usual tricks, then. But somehow i didn’t mind because many of the works are spectacular

Designer Lisa Ma traveled to a joystick factory located in one of the suburbs of Shenzhen. She spent several weeks with the factory workers, sleeping in dorms, sharing their meals in the canteen, making friends.

Because most of these young factory workers come from a farming background and because joysticks might well become obsolete soon, she proposed to the factory owners that they would allow the joystick makers to work part-time in a nearby farm. She called the experiment ‘Farmification’ – using farming to keep the factory community together when work dwindles

My guest on the show is Dr. Jonah Brucker-Cohen whom i’m sure you all know. Jonah is a researcher, artist, and writer. Apart from his work as an artist, Jonah has been teaching in several universities in New York, lecturing internationally, writing essays for magazines focusing on technology and since he is teaching a course called Designing Critical Networks at Parsons in New york, i thought he’d be the perfect guest for a program which covers issues such as social media, subverting network experience, hacking, and internet censorship. We also took the time to focus on some of his own works, from the now legendary Wifi Liberator to Scrapyard Challenge Jr. 555 Noisemaker Kit and America’s Got No Talent

I like GAMERZ because it’s eclectic, because it makes me discover plenty of artists i had never heard about before but also because it reminds me that festivals should be left more often in the hands of artists. They take risk, follow their whim, trust other artists barely out of the academy, and care little about sticking to genres and formulas