[-empyre-] Game Art & The End Of The Gallery

Christian McCrea christian at wolvesevolve.com
Sat Mar 8 14:23:14 EST 2008

Two iterations of the Barbican's Game On show tell very different
stories about the situation of games in galleries. In London, games
and art co-exist, perhaps uneasily, but certainly co-habit. In
Melbourne, a very different iteration of the show strips back art's
presence but casually, almost without context, places it at the
literal end of the gallery space.

After a section on Australian-made games and cultural differences made
playable, the visitor enters a walled -off booth that is strangely
designed to not appear at all. The ominous stone-cold lighting of
ACMI's screen  gallery space has led to some amazing tricks of light
in past shows, but the collection of works being shown in the
screening box of this show are basically hidden.

Remembrance and the Design of Place, Frances Downing:  "A secret place
always has aspects of a 'removed' existence, being a place that,
physically or mentally, it is  created for retreat, intimacy,
enclosure, screening, and protection.  These often are places of power
and control  that cannot be known or invaded by 'outside' forces"
(quote found in this article on gendered space:

There is so much yet to be said about the institutional and contextual
tensions visible in both shows, but  before even opening that
particular issue, just seeing how a gallery space reacts to
interactive objects is very interesting, but arcade game machines,
computers in cabinets, art design objects especially.

At the secret level at the end of the ACMI iteration, the warp zone, I
was taken by how very different the shows were. Then, I very literally
stumbled over an invisible line into a cinema where I see Eddo Stern's
new work,  "Best...Flame War... Ever" (2007)


I can't detach my experience of Game On by how impressed I was with
this piece, which in the sober light of day outside of the warp zone
speaks to a history of net.art that is still articulating what is
expressible and what is not. The pageantry of this work (crowns and
all) demands an answer. At the literal end of the gallery clustering
together game technology, culture (and yes, commerce), arranged to
tell a history, game art is positioned as the literal future of games.

So, some questions:

- What does this responsibility (or burden) do for art practice?

- What does the border between Game Art and New Media Art look like?
(I choose 'border' specifically.)

- How does a space - with contemporary art such as Eddo Stern's, an
independent game such as Warning Forever, and commercial game products
such as Mario Kart - work? What is it called?

Obviously a million questions are visible and invisible here. It would
be good to hear from anybody for whom game art is apolitical,
ahistorical, destructive. Those discussions need to be opened up.


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