Kent Sheely's ongoing series gets even more Beckettian with episode 12, set in the world of Mafia 2.
LINK: Kent Sheely
@ The Poly
24 Church Street
Falmouth, Cornwall, England TR11 3EG
Games as Arts/Arts as Games is an annual festival organised by The MetaMakers Institute of Falmouth University at the crossroads of games and art. With these series of exhibitions, and the associated programme, the organizers wish to contribute to the discussion about games as art forms. Their goal is to bring the discussion forward and beyond academia, opening it up to the general public. This year’s edition will take place from the 12-22 October 2016 at the Poly in Falmouth and it's free and open to the public.
"Videogames are often described in terms of folk art. Sensationalized as fairy tale monsters, seducers that steal people from their families, away from health and creativity, away from social mores into an all-encompassing netherworld at once violent and unreal. Equally, videogames have also been tagged as heroes of the digital age - heralded as changing the way we learn and engage with each other, and offering new material for creating new art forms.
In this series of exhibitions, we look at the relationship of games with other art forms and converse with ideas around art-based approaches to game making and the materials used to make games. We examine games as a lens through which to examine other, more established art practices. We also address the potential for games to take up the mantle of other art forms in the process of critiquing society and creating change." (Tanya Krzywinska)
COLL.EO, YOU'RE IN A WONDERFUL COUNTRY, 2016 Installation shot.
"The popular racing game Forza Horizon 2 (2014) is set in a “realistic” world: a virtual replica of Northern Italian charming small towns, picturesque seaside villages, and rural landscapes. But there is something missing: roadside trash. This enormous territory is inexplicably devoid of empty plastic bottles, cigarette packs, beer cans, cigarette butts, and used condoms. To illustrate this appalling aporia, we drove at extreme low speed on the roads leading to the fictitious town of Castelletto. We scrutinized the road shoulder, inch by inch, but we could not find any sign of litter. This surprising lack of debris generates a powerful cognitive dissonance: as anybody who lives and drives in Italy knows, the roadsides of the Belpaese are replete with junk that accumulates overtime, creating a peculiar kind of attraction (1).
Roadside trash is a byproduct of the automobile. As Marshall McLuhan wrote in Understanding Media, each medium creates a new environment. The medium of the car mostly produces trashcapes. In other words, rubbish is the primary effect of the car, alongside the Iraq War, neocolonialism, and Big Oil sponsoring Art Museums. Additionally, the millions of plastic bottles that drivers throw carelessly outside of the car windows are themselves a byproduct of the petroleum industry: thus, Big Oil controls every aspect of the vicious circle, from smog to trash.
By refusing to address the issue of waste, Forza Horizon 2 - like its predecessor - is an utter and complete failure. Its glaring omission - the discarded objects on the side of the road - compromises the realistic, immersive effect promised by the simulation. In our installation, a video plays on a TV screen sitting on a carpet of artificial grass, itself a byproduct of the oil industry and another recognizable sign of the anthropocene." (COLL.EO, Read the full text here)
Angela Washko is debuting her new work at Transfer Gallery: a meta-game about the pick up artist scene. Genius:
‘The Game: The Game’ is an immersive installation and platform to experience the first chapter of a video game presenting the practices of several prominent seduction coaches (aka pick-up artists) through the format of a dating simulator. In the game these pick-up gurus attempt to seduce the player using their signature techniques taken verbatim from their instructional books and video materials.
Players explore the complexity of the construction of social behaviors around dating as well as the experience of being a woman navigating this complicated terrain. The video game is presented alongside the video and print-based source materials from the seduction coaches themselves as well as handmade cyanotype prints, videos and books produced by the artist in response to her experience investigating this field and the ways in which women are literally presented as objects in physical and digital space.
LINK: Transfer Gallery
VECTOR, one of the most compelling, original, and daring Game Art festivals, returns with a vengeance with a killer program. Now in its fourth iteration, the Canadian event has a special focus on algorithmic and post-human subjects. Subtitled Autonomous Agents, the festival is "a participatory and community-oriented initiative dedicated to showcasing digital games and creative media practices. This year’s festival is co-curated by Skot Deeming and Martin Zeilinger and explores themes of autonomous algorithms and machines through emergent media art practices, live performance, screenings, workshops, and lectures. The Festival takes place across multiple venues in Toronto from July 14-17, 2016."
Because unlike the United States of Inequality, Canada is a civilized, democratic, and inclusive country, ticket passes are affordable for most and several events are open/free to the public. In fact, Festival passes are available for just $25 and offer FREE access to screening and performance events. Plus, Festival Pass holders get a free drip coffee from Sam James Coffee Bar (Queen St. W. location) throughout the duration of the festival.
Below is the full program.
Join co-curators Skot Deeming and Martin Zeilinger for a private tour of the exhibition, The Algorithmic Imagination, and preview the festival's upcoming events. Tickets to this event include free access to Vector screening and performance events. (5:30-6:30pm, $100)
Launch Party and Opening Reception
We kick off Vector Festival 2016 with an energized evening at InterAccess. Festival curators, artists and performers will be in attendance. The works in The Algorithmic Imagination explore the artistic potentials of algorithmic processes. These processes, expressed in the exhibition in kinetic sculptures and screen-based works, are perched between the appropriated and the pre-determined, the autonomous and the random. (7-10pm, FREE)
Basement Revolutionaries, Curated by Amber Christensen and Clint Enns at CineCycle in a time and place awash in the detritus of early 21st Century capitalism, we look to our basement revolutionaries to lead us not upwards but downwards into a bunker of safety to wait it out. Duck and cover, and grab a snack...it may be your only way to survive. (8-11pm, $15)
Sonic Pi Live Coding Introductory Workshop, facilitated by Martin Zeilinger
at InterAccess Live coding is an exciting form of experimental digital sound-making that uses on-the-fly programming techniques to mix traditional improvisation with algorithmic composition. This workshop will introduce you to create live electronic music through simple programming techniques using a mix of sound synthesis and digital sampling. In the practice of live coding, the computer code you enter yields an instant sonic feedback. No prior programming skills required. (11am-3pm, $45 regular/$35 member)
Join us for an evening of performances that bridge the spaces between the composed and the improvised, the generative and the algorithmic, the analog and the digital. Featuring live coding, modular synthesis and generative visuals, performers explore the boundaries of control within sonic and visual apparatuses. Featuring Karl Fousek with Dan Browne, and Spectral Sound System (Michael Trommer and Eric Filion). (Doors at 8pm, $15)
Algorithms, Generative Art, Machine Agency at InterAccess
In conversation and open discussion with participating festival artists and performers, Vector Co-Curator Martin Zeilinger explores some of the underlying concerns and questions that inform this year’s events: What makes generative art? Can algorithms ever be creative agents? What is the future of the digital as an expressive medium? Featuring
Dan Browne, Eric Filion, Karl Fousek, Justine Lugli, and Michael Trommer. (1-3pm, FREE)
WRAP PARTY at Reposado
Celebrate another year of Vector with a live performance by Castle If. (8-11pm, FREE)
VECTOR FESTIVAL EXHIBITIONS
Art on the BIG Screens Vector Festival Preview
July 11, 8-10pm at Celebration Square, Mississauga (300 City Centre Drive)
Works by COLL.EO and Brent Watanabe
The Algorithmic Imagination
July 15 – August 13 at InterAccess (9 Ossington Avenue)
Works by COLL.EO, Adam Donovan, Justine Lugli, Brent Watanabe
Davis Heslep July 1-31 (109 Niagara Street) at Loop Hole
A. Bill Miller
July 14-17 at Common Sort (1414 Queen Street West)
DAY ZERO: PRE-FESTIVAL PARTY
July 13, 8-11pm at Electric Perfume (805 Danforth Avenue)
with a screening curated by Clint Enns
For a complete schedule and to purchase your festival pass, visit vectorfestival.org.
"A collaborative project in which people are invited to occupy the voice channels of multiplayer war games during live performances. It is about hijacking games to confront unsuspecting players around the world and start discussions between people who might not hold the same views. Participants come together to stage their own interventions, bringing readings, songs, and other tools to occupy open voice communications channels. While some of the players forced to listen remain hostile, others welcome the intervention, vote for us to stay in the game, and even take part sharing their own messages. Rather than the distancing often associated with the simulated and the virtual, the voice is deeply human. In April 2016, interventions were devised over a series of workshops at the Active Change Foundation, a youth centre and leadership organisation in Walthamstow, East London."
Calum Bowden (b. 1991) is an artist and writer, working with video, song, and performance. His projects embrace absurd and surreal interactions between people and technology. With a background in anthropology, he's interested in the politics of how stories live and are lived by people. Researching specific cases, his interventions work to confront a society that has always been technological, and technology that has always been social.
LINK: Calum Bowden
Postcards from Italy is a new project by Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti aka COLL.EO. It looks like this:
Postcards from Italy consists of a set of framed photographs of postcards racks found within the virtual world of Forza Horizon 2 (Microsoft, 2014) . Each photograph measures 4 by 6 inches and it's printed on archival photo paper. This project pays homage to American photographer Stephen Shore.
In 1972, Shore produced ten postcards in Amarillo Texas based on a series of photographs that he took of dull, uninteresting places. He then proceeded to print 56,000 copies of the postcards and tried to sell them in bookshops. After failing to do so, he took a different approach, slipping them into postcards racks as he travelled across the US in the next twelve months, inserting his works into an existing distribution system. His postcards thus began a new journey. Here are two examples:
In 2016, COLL.EO produced several postcards of postcard racks based on a series of photographs that they took within the virtual world of Forza Horizon 2, a racing game published by an American corporation, Microsoft. Forza Horizon 2 is set in a fictional, idealized version of what Americans usually call “postcard Italy”. COLL.EO then proceeded to print several hundreds and started slipping them into postcards racks disseminated in shops around Northern Italy, inserting their work into an existing distribution system. They also sent the postcards to a selected number of friends, curators, and critics. The postcards thus began a new journey, in multiple, colliding realities.
Georgie Roxby Smith, 99 Problems [WASTED], still frame from installation
Born in 1976 in Melbourne, Australia, Georgie Roxby Smith works across a range of disciplines exploring new pathways between virtual and physical worlds. Employing a variety of tools - including 3D graphics, live performance, shared virtual and gaming spaces, installation and projection - her works explore the increasingly blurred border between identity, materiality, reality, virtuality, and fantasy in contemporary culture. In 2010 Georgie was selected for The Watermill Center Spring Residency Program, New York, by an international selection committee of cultural leaders including Marina Abramović, Alanna Heiss & Robert Wilson. In 2011 Georgie completed her MFA at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. Since 2012 Georgie has been focusing on gender representation and violence in video games, particularly that directed towards women on screen and in online communities. She lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.
This interview was produced by the students of Master's Degree Program in Arts, Markets and Cultural Heritage at IULM for the exhibition GAME VIDEO/ART. A SURVEY (April 4 - July 31, Milan, Italy). This interview was originally published here.
GameScenes: Can you briefly describe your education?
Georgie Roxby Smith: After finishing secondary school I studied Media Arts, specializing in animation and sound art before I returned to study at the University of Melbourne, Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts as a postgraduate student. I completed a Master’s of Contemporary Art and then Master’s of Fine Art (by research) specializing in mixed reality, idealized selves, and how we role-play the self online.
GameScenes: Can you name some influences - not necessarily artistic ones - that played a key role in your evolution as an artist?
Georgie Roxby Smith: When I started working in the digital medium, it was not a big scene here in Australia yet, so meeting digital artists IRL at the Watermill Center in New York and travelling to Nevada to take part in Perspectives International Festival of Digital Art curated by game art pioneer Joseph De Lappe was an incredible experience. Meeting and working with my digital peers from across the globe in the one space for the first time (a number of whom I later brought together for a group show here in Melbourne “New Media Art NOW” in 2013) was pivotal. Having curators like Matteo Bittanti bringing together artists and creating a virtual gallery and discussion space through his GameScenes blog continues to be a great inspiration.
GameScenes: When and why did you begin using video games in your practice?
Georgie Roxby Smith: I had been working with virtual worlds and materiality in my studio research during my Master’s but the more I delved into the work, the more it became about the self, role play, and how we perform online. I began experimenting with interventions, glitches and the insertion of ‘the other” into the virtual norm. Rediscovering the video game landscape in 2012 after years away (which may as well be eons in video game world!) was a key moment in my practice. Immersing myself as audience/player, the possibilities of the medium and my concerns with gaming culture (both onscreen and off) emerged and the work generated itself naturally out of those provocations.
Georgie Roxby Smith, Uncomposed (after Titian after Giogione), video, found image, found sound, 5' 03", 2012
GameScenes: Digital games often create parallel, alternative experiences for its users. How do you relate to the complex relation between reality and simulation? How do you address this tension through your work?
Georgie Roxby Smith: As technology advances, we are increasingly living in multiple realities at once. For a long time we have had one hand in the digital and the other in the real but it’s the slippage in between that has always interested me – how much we invest in our virtual selves and avatars, the physical and neurological connections between us and “it”, mirrored and glitched real and virtual environments. My installation work Reality Bytes attempted to address this by layering multiple realities, audiences and performances in a myriad of spaces in one time. Since then it has been a process of stripping back and isolating those moments and experiences. The tensions vary with each work – viewers know the protagonist is a “bunch of pixels” yet by repeating and looping acts of violence, as in 99 Problems [WASTED] for example, I create an unease in the viewer. In this work, the viewer's discomfort is amplified by injecting a juxtaposition of humor and a rhythmic soundtrack, courtesy of the suicide gun, that carries the viewer almost jauntily through the work.
GameScenes: The creative opportunities afforded by machinima are greatly constrained by existing copyright law, which prohibits many possible uses, including commercial purposes. What’s your take on the paradoxical nature of this art form?
Georgie Roxby Smith: I’m not overly concerned with machinimas limitations as I am not driven by commerciality, rather the best medium to convey the work’s concept – and in this case the concept is embedded in the medium itself.
GameScenes: Do you agree that machinima has democratized the art making process? Has it lowered the entry barrier for creators of video art, as some critics argue?
Georgie Roxby Smith: As a contemporary artist, I value concept and aesthetic equally, I don’t necessarily relate the majority of machinima with art making. That argument could be (and was) just as easily applied to the photography/painting debate. I don’t think artists and critics should be elitist about the medium – if the medium is the best vehicle for the work, the importance should be placed on the work being executed well both in thought and materiality.
GameScenes: How do video game aesthetics affect the overall impact of your work? What comes first, the concept or the medium?
Georgie Roxby Smith: For me, immersive and critical play generates the concept. That said my new body of work is sculpturally based, concept definitely lead in that case.
Georgie Roxby Smith, 99 Problems [WASTED], GTA V intervention, 04:45 (continuous loop), 2014
GameScenes: In your artwork 99 Problems [WASTED] how and why do you use this particular video game?
Georgie Roxby Smith: Grand Theft Auto comes pre-loaded with preconceptions of hyper-violence from both players and the wider community – some true, some way off the mark. The interesting thing of course, particularly in the multiplayer platform, is that the use of these violent actions (and how far they are taken) is completely up to the player. Like Marina Abramovic’s Rhythm 0, the audience (or player) drives the act and its level of severity and subsequent consequences. Being open world and dense in its environment and modability – and with these embedded nuances in-game and out - Grand Theft Auto V was the perfect platform for this work.
Georgie Roxby Smith, The Fall Girl, Skyrim intervention, 09' 07", 2012
GameScenes: Do you think that the video game aesthetic is the more suitable one to gain attention to gender issues and to the perception of women in our society?
Georgie Roxby Smith: The medium has been an important tool to demonstrate my artistic concepts and feminist ideals through the de-contextualisation of female protagonists who “exist” within this illusionary world yet represent a greater and more concerning overriding culture. Since creating these works, these concerns have been aired on a wider platform through the efforts of Anita Sarkeesian and are therefore now very much in the public consciousness. As an artist, exploring and teasing out societal glitches that perhaps go unnoticed in the everyday, the wider understanding of these issues signifies to me a moment for my practice to move on and into new spheres – whether or not that includes new mediums.
Read more interviews in the series
LINK: Georgie Roxby Smith
The most interesting artworks in the field of Game Art are often conceptual. An example is Tom Durley's I'd Rather Be Playing Tetris (2007), which sits under the umbrella of participatory art. In this piece, the audience was given the chance to either play a game of Tetris, which was set up in one room, or listen to a short talk delivered in another room".
Durley further elaborates:
"The audience were not told what the talk would be about and would not be able to hear it subsequently if they had chosen the video game, equally those who had chosen to listen to the talk would not have been allowed to play Tetris."
The Tetris in question is the 1989 NES game in its original form, not a hacked/modded version à là Cory Arcangel (consider, for instance, Super Slow Tetris, 2004). The talk in question was based on Durley's essay "Video Games and Relational Aesthetics", which attempted to examine the possible similarities between video games and some current art practices - this was part of a dissertation on the concept of fun in art.
What were the results? Durley explains:
The audience was forced into having to make a decision that they would perhaps make quite often, yet not quite so obliquely - they had to choose between having fun (and being entertained) or listening to a talk about art. The group divided fairly evenly when presented with the opportunity, and both parties seemed slightly frustrated at only being allowed one of the two experiences. I found this audience tension very interesting and something which I became keen to elaborate on.
LINK: Tom Durley