GameScenes is conducting a series of interviews with artists, critics, curators, and gallery owners active in the field of Game Art, as part of an ongoing investigation of the social history of this artworld. Our goal is to document and discuss both the origins and evolution of a phenomenon that changed the way game-based art is being created, experienced, shared, and discussed today.
Alex Hovet is a New York City-based artist currently pursuing an MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media at the School of Visual Arts. She constructs visual representations of disappearance to ask whether it can be controlled. From still and moving images to online platforms, Hovet use lens- and screen-based tools to investigate the stability of physical and digital memory. For our ongoing series of conversations with contemporary artists who appropriate and incorporate videogame aesthetics and logics, we asked Alex Hovet a few questions about her recent works, including the machinima Counter-Charge (2016), Apotheosys (2016) and (Hohum)...it's gonna be a looong game (2016).
This interview took place via email in February 2017.
Alex Hovet, Counter-Charge, 2016, Video, color, sound, TRT
GameScenes: You studied at Bennington College and are currently completing an MFA at the School of Visual Arts. Can you identify specific courses, teachers, events or situations that provided epiphanic moments or turning points in your development as an artist? Moreover, which artists and/or scholars do you find inspiring?
Alex Hovet: When I began undergrad, I was more focused on traditional narrative filmmaking and scriptwriting. As I took introductory classes in video-making and film history, I found more and more that it was more natural for me to make experimental, non-narrative, non-linear, or installation works. My undergrad thesis work was a collection of videos about the persistent short-term memory loss that my father suffers, as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage he had when I was a teenager. The way that came about was that I was introduced to GoldMosh, a data-moshing freeware that was essentially a pre-programmed Max patch in which you could input videos and they would get moshed. This process immediately struck me as a clear visual parallel to this memory trauma that my father and I were a part of, in different ways. I was able to easily recognize these structural elements of experimental filmmaking that were easily used to talk about these personal themes. I really value the structural possibilities of moving image editing, and it is still the most natural way for me, I think, to create clear connections in theme and content. When I saw Peggy Ahwesh's video She Puppet in an undergraduate class, I was immediately taken by the singular use of gameplay as its visual content. It wasn't appropriated footage in the way I had seen or used, taken from multiple sources or re-edited. It was live appropriation, live editing, which the filmmaker was both in control and at the mercy of, free to navigate the game how she wanted, but constricted by its most basic rules and spaces. They had a kind of mutual dissatisfaction, or a shared wish to go beyond what they could both achieve in that space. That video in particular was a stand-out influence on my work, and continued to be when I decided to make Counter-Charge last year. It's in large part an homage to She Puppet.
Alex Hovet, Apotheosis, 2016, Video, color, sound, TRT
Alex Hovet, (Hohum)...it's gonna be a looong game, 2016, 14min excerpt, channels 1-3