GameScenes is conducting a series of interviews with artists, critics, curators, and gallery owners operating in the field of Game Art, as part of an ongoing investigation of the social history of this fascinating artworld. Our goal is to illustrate the genesis and evolution of a phenomenon that changed the way game-based art is being created, experienced, and discussed today.
The conversation between Stefan Schwarzer and Mathias Jansson took place in November 2011 via email.
“Street Fighter II“ by Stefan Schwarzer, Computer History Museum, Installation view (link)
From November 9th to December 12th 2011, the Computer Games Museum (Das Computerspielemuseum) in Berlin will be showing “Street Fighter II“, a solo exhibition by Stefan Schwarzer. Schwarzer is a German artist that belongs to the generation that grow up with games as Street Fighter. He is currently a student of painting and graphics at the University of Art and Design in Halle and has already presented his work in a number of exhibitions. “Street Fighter II“ is curated by Andreas Lange, Director of the Computer Games Museum.
Stefan Schwarzer, "fighter" aus dem Zyklus "tidy your game", 2011, 02:52 min., Videocollage
Stefan Schwarzer, "Streetfighter II word and number" aus dem Zyklus "tidy your game", 2011, 02:53 min., Videocollage
GameScenes: Why Street Fighter II? What is you personal relationship with Capcom's seminal beat'em up series?
Stefan Schwarzer: When I was attending elementary shool, my father bought me a Super Nintendo with the game Street Fighter II. My experiences with computer games began right there. The game was my initiation, so to speak. Back then, I spend hours playing Street Fighter II with several friends, played tournaments and replayed scenes on the schoolyard. Today I really have no time to play games. I connect Street Fighter on one hand, with many personal experiences in my childhood. On the other, I consider the game as a perfect metaphor for competition in our society, the struggle for love, the wish be recognized, the Darwinian arena of job seeking... Street Fighter II is the first computer game which I artistically have investigated. I am fascinated by the combination of art and games. I am planning to continue this practice, this exploration in the future.
Stefan Schwarzer, "Ryu" und "Balroc", 2010, 2 x 1 x 1m, mixed media
Stefan Schwarzer, "Zangief in my mind", 2011 3 x 2 x 4m, mixed media
GameScenes: Your Street Fighter II intervention is quite elaborate. You explored different techniques, from drawing to video, from installation to print... In a sense, you are playing with the original game in a completely different way...
Stefan Schwarzer: The root of my creativity lies in drawing, as well as painting. I also use video. I am, after all, a live video performer. Otherwise, I always try to use new techniques that I still do not fully know. I learn by doing... I create several pieces that come together to create a whole installation. The correspondence of the individual works is very important to me. For this reason, I have used many different techniques to investigate several themes of Street Fighter II.
Stefan Schwarzer, "Blanka" aus der Serie "Groggy", 2011 21 x 14,85cm, Bunstift/ Papier
Stefan Schwarzer, "Chun li" aus der Serie "Groggy", 2011,21 x 14,85cm, Buntstift/ Papier
Stefan Schwarzer, "Zangief" aus der Serie "Groggy", 2011, 21 x 14,85cm, Buntstift/ Papier
Stefan Schwarzer, Cover des Daumenkinos "E.Honda" aus der Serie "Streetfighter im Alltag", 2011 5,7 x 9,9cm, Digital Druck
Stefan Schwarzer, Daumenkino "E.Honda" aus der Serie "Streetfighter im Alltag", 2011, 00:24 min., Digital Druck
GameScenes: One segment of your exhibition about Street Fighter II features an old fashion flip-book starring the wrestler E. Honda in a series of banal and trivial situations, “Street Fighter im Alltag”. ("Street Fighter in Everday Life"). Decontextualizing Honda from his original frame - the arena - creates surprising effects on the viewer...
Stefan Schwarzer: “Streetfighter im Alltag” began with an ironic question: "What does a Street Fighter II fighter do on a casual evening with his special moves?" To answer this question, I chose the character E. Honda. He can do his special move, the thousand hands, so he can do the dishes very quickly. The medium of the flipbook is very interesting because it somehow links different forms of animations - print, the movie image, cartoons - to videogames. In a sense, they all speak the same language.
Stefan Schwarzer "Street Fighter II"
9.11. - 12.12.2011
Vernissage: 9.11.2011, 6 pm.
Computerspielemuseum/Computer Games Museum
Link: Stefan Schwarzer
Link: StreetFighter II Brochure (in German only, PDF file)
Link: Das Computerspiel Museum Berlin
Link: Game Art Events: Upcoming and Ongoing
related: Stephan Schwingeler on the German Game Art scene (hint: it's very, very lively)
related: Matteo Bittanti's "Slow Fighter" (2009)
Interview archives: Contemporary Practitioners; The Early Years
Text by Mathias Jansson
Editing: Matteo Bittanti
All images courtesy of the artist