The Victoria and Albert Museum
Curated by Marie Foulston
8 September 2018 - 24 February 2019
Advance tickets: £18. Tickets go on sale today.
The Victoria and Albert Museum will host one of the most ambitious exhibitions about videogames, art, and design of the last decade.
Titled Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt, the show will open in the Fall of 2018 and will examine the most diverse and eclectic manifestations of gaming, including indie productions, eSports, and politics. The stated goal is to fully and deeply explore the social, cultural, and artistic impact of games. It is a relief to hear that the exhibition won't follow a chronological order, opting instead for a thematic display of artworks. Artifacts will cover a twenty year period (2000-2018).
Organized into three sections - hence the subtitle, Design, Play and Disrupt - the exhibition will cover aspects related to the production of innovative original narratives like The Last of Us and Journey, the ascent of bedroom and indie coding, the new DIY arcade scene (represented, for instance by Robin Baumgarten's Arcade Backpack), and the typologies of game spaces.
Cardboard Computer, Kentucky Route Zero, 2013-.
It will also juxtapose traditional/modern art with modern interpretations, for instance Rene Magritte’s 1965 painting La Blanc Seing will be shown beside a section of the 2013 Cardboard Computer's game Kentucky Route Zero, which it inspired. There will be also interactive installations of spectacle and performance.
The exhibition will feature several games focusing on themes such as sexuality, capitalism, and globalization through the lenses of indie projects like Nina Freeman’s How do you do it?– in which a young girl explores sex using plastic dolls – and Molleindustria’s Phone Story – which focuses on child exploitation and worker suicide within the production of Apple smartphones. The game, as you know, was banned by Apple in a typical Silicon Valley autocratic move a few years ago.
Nina Freeman, How do you do it?, 2014
Alongside the exhibition, the V&A will be hosting a video games residency for a UK-based artist or designer involved in the videogames scene who wishes to develop their practice through working with the V&A’s curators and learning team in order to develop new work and engage with the public. Additional information on that can be found on the museum’s website.
The exhibition will be previewed on Saturday September 7 2018. More details here.
Read an interview with curator Marie Foulston here.
FULL EXHIBITION OVERVIEW
The first section of the exhibition will examine the design inspirations, craftsmanship and creative practice behind a series of individual games. These are created by a new generation of designers from large established studios to solo independent designers, as well as from a range of other creative disciplines such as new media and music composition. Highlights include character design sketches, a motion capture suit, animations and working notes of the creative director from The Last of Us from Naughty Dog. A visually stunning post-apocalyptic blockbuster, this title is comparable to a Hollywood production in ambition and scope. Other exhibits include prototypes, design drawings and desert research footage from Journey, a smaller independent game, demonstrating how videogames can evoke emotional concepts of friendship, connection, positivity and love. Also shown will be works that have influenced creators such as Magritte’s painting Le Blanc Seing, the inspiration for the parallax scenography of Kentucky Route Zero.
Videogames have the potential to consider complex and sensitive subject matters such as representation, race, sexuality and geo-politics. As tools to make games have become more available and distribution has broadened, game designers have begun to engage more widely with social and ethical debates. The next section will present interviews and opinion from influential game makers and commentators who are leading this discussion such as developer Rami Ismail and advocate Tanya de Pass. Here ideas about videogames and what they should be are challenged – as well as how this relates to society as a whole. A selection of works will illustrate such themes including how do you Do It, a semi-autobiographical game by Nina Freeman which tackles the discovery of sexuality through dolls and Phone Story by Molleindustria, a satirical mobile video game which invites players to consider negative effects of their consumption on people in the globalised world.
The third section celebrates the dazzling imagination and collaborative creativity shown by videogames players in real and virtual communities, transcending the role of the designer to democratise design on a vast scale. The double-height exhibition space in this section will feature a dramatic and immersive installation that explores the role of the player as co-creator. This will show the astonishing feats of engineering and construction undertaken in Minecraft from the recreation of the continent of Westeros in Game of Thrones to the mass spectacle of esports tournaments such as League of Legends World Championships. There will be examples of fan art and cosplay created by enthusiasts who interpret the medium in their own style and create costumes and accessories to represent themselves, or even their pets as characters.
The playful finale will look at the rise of the grassroots DIY arcade scene, showcasing handmade arcade cupboards and interactive installations of spectacle and performance. Unusual and remarkable games made by DIY enthusiasts and creatives will be shown such as Bush Bash by SK Games, played in a sedan car cut in half and fitted with a display for two players to shoot and drive. Visitors can also play games such as Line Wobbler by Robin Baumgarten. Created from a custom-made spring controller and a several metre-long ultrabright LED strip display, it was inspired by a viral video of a cat playing with a door-stopper spring.
LINK: Victoria & Albert Museum