To celebrate her 20 years as curator in the fields of art and video games, Isabelle Arvers is about to embark on a world tour to explore the issue of diversity, with an emphasis on female, queer and decolonial practices
Paying close attention to practices of trolling and making memes, Megan Condis demonstrates that, despite the supposedly disembodied nature of life online, performances of masculinity are still afforded privileged status in gamer culture. Even worse, these competing discourses are creating rifts within the culture at large, as witnessed by the links between the GamerGate movement and the rise of the alt-right during the last presidential election
Where are we going to find satisfaction and self-worth in the coming years when, as experts predict, automated systems replace 50 percent of all jobs? Will our countries have to face waves of unrest as citizens flood the streets asking for employment, dignity and a reason to get up in the morning?
Karolina Sobecka’s video game reverses the logic of First Person Shooter games. In her work, the gun is AI-assisted. It fires automatically when a ‘target’ enters its field of view and guides the player’s hand to aim more effectively. The player cannot drop the weapon or stop it from firing, but he/she can obstruct it (and the gun’s) vision. The object of the game is to shoot as few people as possible
The young designer uses radically different entertainment channels to explore questions of radicalisation, spying and UK government role in spreading a climate of suspicion
In 1961, Donald Michie, a British WWII code breaker and a researcher in artificial intelligence, developed MENACE (the Machine Educable Noughts And Crosses Engine), one of the first programs capable of learning to play and win a game of Noughts and Crosses (or Tic-Tac-Toe if you’re American.) Since he had no computers at his disposal at the time, he created a device built out of matchboxes and glass beads to simulate a learning algorithm.
This year’s edition of the GAMERZ festival not only demonstrated that there is nothing trivial about play but it also explored how our relationship to play has changed with the advances of technology. And, more interestingly, it invited us to join artists whose work investigates how the digital age is changing man, whether we’re talking about Huizinga’s homo ludens, the working man (Homo Faber) or more generally the modern man (Homo sapiens.)
The works on show range from a robotic soccer robot to the Soccket energy generating football, from the ever irresistible and painful Leg Shocker to the world premier of Jer Thorp’s immersive installation The Time of the Game. The result is an exhibition that brings into a highly popular museum an entertaining but also critical and provocative view of the impact that technology has on ‘the beautiful game.’
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
The 10th edition of the festival celebrated 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.
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
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 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.
My guest in this 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
How much does the practice of video games affect our imagination and the way we perceive reality? Are video games shaping our perception of reality or is it our perception of reality that shapes the imagination behind video games?
In Tarnac. Le chaos et la grâce, Joachim Olender explores a police and judicial blunder that hit France in November 2008 when a group of policemen wearing black balaclavas stormed into the small village of Tarnac and arrested a group of people who were later accused of being far-left terrorists plotting to overthrow the state
Illustrations of an alternative world where bespoke sports events replace traditional warfare as a means of solving seemingly chronic conflicts. Each sport is designed to reflect the cultural and geopolitical characteristics of the opposing sides, in this case North Korea vs South Korea + Japan + USA, and India vs Pakistan
Hertz makes robots controlled by cockroaches, video game systems that you can literally drive around, he gives talks about Zombie Media and has just crafted a magazine about critical technical practice and critically-engaged maker culture that puts us all (us being media people) to shame
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
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
Le Cadavre Exquis, a digital re-interpretation of the surrealist game Exquisite Corpse and the parlour game Consequences. In the interactive installation designed by Brendan Oliver and Brendan Randall, members of the public are invited to record a short stop-frame animation as a response piece to a previously recorded submission. The texual narrative is then created by online participants
Matteo Bittanti and Domenico Quaranta, the authors of the very enjoyable and clever book GameScenes. Art in the Age of Videogames, are onto great game art adventures again. This time, they curated an exhibition that celebrates the work of Italian artists who have been experimenting with game-based technologies for more than two decades
Niklas is one of the most facetious characters of the ‘new media art’ world. His dance machine without ‘annoying Dj”, moving curtain, ‘distributed’ fountains, white cube gallery in a box, physical teapot inside a Commodore cabinet or his electromechanical version of the game Pong are certainly entertaining, absurd and at times, even hilarious. But don’t let the jesting fool you. Behind the playfulness of Roy’s machines, lay much irony and lucidity about the world of art & tech he belongs to
A few days ago, i was at La Cantine in Paris to cover and be a member of the jury of the second edition of the ArtGame Weekend. Artists, graphic designers, musicians, interaction designers, engineers, VJ’s and coders were given 48 hours to develop a game for mobile devices
With this installation, Riley Harmon went for the visceral and the powerful. Each time a player dies in a game of Counter-strike, a popular online first person shooter, electronic solenoid valves open up and dispense a small amount of fake blood. The trails left down the wall create a physical manifestation of virtual kills, bridging the two realities. During the show’s run players who have a copy of Counter-Strike can join the game and cause the sculpture to active
Right now i’m wrapped up inside a Book Sprint, a one week-long collective authoring of a book. Our A/S/T Book Sprint explores the work of contemporary artists who are working at the intersection of art/science/technology, with a focus on the recent shift from artist/inventor dependent on industry or academy (as embodied by pioneering programs from the 1960s such as Art and Technology at LACMA and Experiments in Art & Technology), to independent agent (artists conducting scientific research or technological experiments outside the framework and discourse of an institution)
Today i return to the GAMERZ festival in Aix-en-Provence because 1. i want to remind you that this truly unique event is going to close on Sunday 2. i just interviewed the lovely Isabelle Arvers who not only curated a machinima show for the GAMERZ exhibition but is also one of the most respected experts in art and video games, 8it music and free + opensource culture in France
The installation borrows the name of the famous tennis champion, except that the sole role humans can play here is the most humble one: picking up lost balls. That’s if they dare to approach NADAL. In this degenerated form of tennis, several tennis ball machines propel balls on a meticulously calibrated trajectory that animate and play with the architectural space
GAMERZ festival runs until the 19th December and spreads in various cultural centers all over the city. The focus of the festival is gaming of course but the installations, performances, talks and videos by 85 French and international artists also reach out to other areas where contemporary art and new technologies interact. Not strictly and solely game thus but there’s always an element of entertainment. Which doesn’t prevent some of the works to come with a critical agenda as well
The movie that received most attention from both the public and the members of the File Prix Lux is War of Internet Addiction, a machinima advocacy production that voices the concerns of the mainland Chinese World of Warcraft community. Although the machinima was created with WoW players in mind, the video strikes a chord with the broader public by pointing the finger to the lack of Internet freedom in the country and conveying a general feeling of helplessness
The latest project from New Zealand-based artists SWAMP is the Tardigotchi, a toy which houses two pets: a living organism called tardigrade and an alife avatar with a partially autonomous behaviour
Enter the Casino art center and you will find video consoles, a trampoline, a pin-ball machine, games of dart, a billiard table, a playground, etc. Yet, every single work is playing with you rather than the opposite. You instantly loose every single game of Mortal Kombat, the ceiling of the room where a huge trampoline lies is far too low for you to even stand on your feet, the hula hoop is monopolized by a plastic cactus, the mohair bascketball net is 130 m long, fences deny any access to the playground, etc
The exhibition presents six international positions on the subject of computer games and electronic toys. The spectrum includes interactive computer games, developed by artists, a film collage of modified content of commercial games as well as small toy robots; furthermore four photos from a series showing male adolescents during a LAN-party
Music take center stage in the exhibition but Playlist has also a very physical dimension that deals with the pleasure of manipulating and tweaking the devices and the aesthetic delectation in the vintage look of the game arcades and handheld consoles
Chip music is low-key. Its scene is relatively small, its sound is raw and lo-fi, but more importantly, its tools are outmoded goods of mass consumptions. This obsolescence of the media was at the heart of curator Quaranta’s reflections for the exhibition
The exhibition, curated by Domenico Quaranta for Laboral’s new Mediateca Expandida, explores the role played by music in the adoption and manipulation of obsolete technologies: vinyls, old computers, game platforms, etc. I’m going to be the usual procrastinator and promise that i’ll come back with a report later on this week. In the meantime, here’s a link to the catalog of the exhibition and to videos by the extremely talented Raquel Meyers
The German independent filmmaker has been investigating the relationship between technology and information for decades. His talk in Barcelona explored the way blurry, raw images from surveillance and sophisticated computer-generated images are now competing with “the real thing”