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.
After two successful seasons, we just kickstarted the third series.
GameScenes: What kind of organization is Altered Esthetics?
Amber White: Altered Esthetics is a small, 501(c)3 non-profit arts organization and art gallery space. We believe artists represent a voice of society and our mission is to support and expand a vibrant arts community. We are located in the Northeast Arts District of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. We provide opportunities including group exhibitions, solo exhibitions, workshops, critiques, and two different types of internships.
David Stienlicht, Grand Theft Festal, 2008, 14 x 11 inches, seeds, glue on masonite
GameScenes: What was the background to start a biennale about classic video game art?
Amber White: Jamie Schumache, who was involved from the start, can answer this question better
GameScenes: The biennal is celebrating its fifth anniversary. How did this event develop throughout the years?
Amber White: The planning for this year's Level_13 exhibition began last summer when Altered Esthetics released its annual Featured Artist Contest. This contest calls for early submissions for all of the upcoming year's shows in order to select one artist to be the 'featured' calendar artist. Last summer the featured artist selected was Kate Johnson for her painting "Tipsy Shrooms". When we printed our 2012 calendars last fall and posted the normal open call for artwork, "Tipsy Shrooms" was the main featured image associated with Level_13: Cheat Codes. The number and type of submissions for Level_13 have varied from year to year.
Kate Johnson, Tipsy Shrooms, 2012
This is only the second Level_13 exhibition for which I have been present at Altered Esthetics, and I can say we definitely have more submissions and a wider variety of submissions than last time. This year the types of artwork in the show include painting, photography, custom jewelry, custom painted shoes, illustration/comic art, and seed art that is artwork using beans and seeds to create a sort of mosaic piece.
GameScenes: What is the main audience for a Game Art exhibition?
Amber White: Between 100 and 150 guests visited the opening reception last Friday April 6th, and various other guests will visit throughout the month during our open gallery hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Our guests include our 'regular' friends and family, arts professionals, general public who see our event listings, and video game enthusiasts.
GameScenes: "Cheat codes" is the theme of the 2012 biennal. Why cheating? Is this related to hacking and transgressive play?
Amber White: The video game art show is called "Level_13" and every two years it is given a different subtitle such as "Bonus Round" or "The Secret Level". This year for 2012 the theme is "Level_13: Cheat Codes". We had our monthly artists' discussion yesterday afternoon based on this month's theme of video game art. During our monthly artist discussions, the participating artists and public are invited to the gallery to talk about their artwork and in this case, their love for video games. Our annual fundraiser party this year also has a 1980s video game theme!
GameScenes: Will the biennale continue in the future?
Amber White: As the routine stands now, Level_13 should be set to happen again in 2014, although when exhibition planning begins next year the repetitive schedule may be re-evaluated.
LINK: Level_13: Cheat Codes
Text by Mathias Jansson
Editing: Matteo Bittanti
All images courtesy of Altered Esthetics