[-empyre-] Welcome to the March Discussion on -empyre-:"Videogames and Art: Incite/Insight"

Claudia Pederson ccp9 at cornell.edu
Sun Mar 3 13:18:14 EST 2013

Thank you Renate for collaborating with me as a guest moderator and thank
you Paolo for agreeing to discuss alongside on the first week of a new
Empyre month. It is always a pleasure to converse with artists and with

I want to begin by speaking a bit about my interest in videogames as one
filtered by both my experiences as a media activist and my training as an
art historian.  On the whole, my research focuses on the history and theory
of new media arts, with a special interest in interventionist practices,
conceived from interdisciplinary and transcultural perspectives. I am
especially interested in practices working to re-purpose communication
technologies to advance non-authoritarian culture. In my dissertation I
brought these interests to digital games created by contemporary artists
using the medium for transnational critique by way of disturbing and
mobilizing mainstream networks of global cultural production and
distribution.  My goal was to explore the histories behind these
practices--I traced them to the historical vanguards' interest in games and
play, and hacker groups operating in the 1960s and 1970s, also using
computer games as educational tools.  However, contemporary gaming
interventions also evolved in relation to the emergence of new forms of
media culture and market forces associated with globalization.  As
inquiries into the instrumentalization of play in new entertainment
economies--that is the use of videogames to categorize, divide and maintain
hierarchy--the currents are also novel forms of social engagement that can
be understood within a 'tradition' of non-authoritarian culture which is
inherently interdisciplinary and transcultural.

My scholarly interests reflect my life experiences.  I was barely born in
Lisbon, Portugal, during Salazar's dictatorship to parents as my mother
prepared to join my father in Paris on their way to become political
refugees in the Netherlands (my father refused to join the Portuguese army
sent to suppress the anti-colonial uprisings in Angola and Mozambique).
Left behind in my grandparents care, I saw how art and cultural expression
played a fortifying role in the aftermath of the 1974 revolution in
Portugal; in particular poetry, music, and radio (the salvo of the
carnation revolution was Grandola Vila Morena, a dissident song by poet and
songwriter Zeca Afonso; I grew up listening to occupied radio; meanwhile,
before the revolution my grandfather concealed a mimeograph machine for
leaflets in the basement and listened to 'forbidden' radio--I served as
small 'guard' in case the secret police would show up). In the Netherlands
I was involved with activist groups around urbanist movements in Europe,
which included a robust cultural wing of media activists active in
publishing, pirate radio, and music (the rave scene/and the
alterglobalization movements were in full swing). With this in mind, it is
obvious to me that artists took to videogames as tools of
anti-authoritarian culture.

During my research I came across Paolo's work by way of Gonzalo Frasca,
whom Ana already mentioned. (As an aside, Frasca, who hails from Uruguay,
speaks in one of his essays of his experience as a child looking unto his
grandmother and mom burning 'forbidden' books in the garden as a motive to
create videogames with social and political messages).  If I am not
mistaken Paolo spoke elsewhere about his involvement with
alterglobalization and independent media groups. Perhaps, you could speak
about this a bit more, Paolo.  Also I think you forgot to mention one of my
favorite games by you (apart from Faithfighter--truly hilarious to play on
a big gallery screen), Phone Story. I was hoping you would speak a bit more
about this rather recent project.

Paolo, I did indeed see Colbert's mention of videogames, and yes I do think
you are right--it is all part of the creative patina of NYC as a "creative
city." On the other hand so is Art...tbc

On Sat, Mar 2, 2013 at 4:18 PM, Erin Obodiac <emo57 at cornell.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello all,
> If you haven't already seen human pac-man:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3D0JvYJkGc
> Erin
> ________________________________________
> From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [
> empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of Renate Ferro [
> rtf9 at cornell.edu]
> Sent: Saturday, March 02, 2013 10:31 AM
> To: soft_skinned_space
> Subject: [-empyre-] Welcome to the March Discussion on
> -empyre-:"Videogames     and Art: Incite/Insight"
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Welcome to the March discussion on  –empyre- soft-skinned space:
> ttp://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
> "Videogames and Art: Incite/Insight" Moderated by Claudia Pederson
> (Portugal/Netherlands/US) and Renate Ferro (US) with invited
> discussants Paolo Pedercini (IT, US), Joeeph Delappe (US), Soraya
> Murray (US), John Sharpe (US), Ken Eklund (US), George Karalis (US),,
> Anne Marie Schleiner (S),
> ______________________________________________________________jj
>  "Why Games?" asked one of the catalogue essays by a curator of the
> "Game Show" at Mass MoCA in 2001.  Just a little over a decade later
> and this question rings quaint.  Today videogames are seen as
> culturally significant media. But Art is mostly invoked as a
> legitimization of the medium. Thus the Smithsonean praises the
> expressive potential of videogames in its past show, "The Art of
> Videogames," and videogames are filed under the arts section of the
> New York Times. This desire for legitimization speaks to still
> lingering beliefs that videogames are chiefly a subcultural form.
> In a recent press conference after the Newtown shootings (and
> subsequent calls for gun control), the NRA president Wayne LaPierre
> deflected scrutiny by shifting blame to violent videogames, calling
> the videogame industry "a shadow organization."  However, the fact
> that these assertions were mostly met with general skepticism may be
> taken as sign of a shift in the public's perception of videogames. At
> this point of their cultural trajectory videogames look to be becoming
> just another form of entertainment (think of the booming of social
> games).
> Beyond attempts at elevating the output of the industry in face of the
> slippery slope of moral anxieties, what is the relationship of
> videogames and Art? For the rise of videogames as forms of
> entertainment and as an artistic medium is closely related, even
> intermingled, yet also distinct. For instance, the relationship
> between art and games is longstanding, even if poorly understood in
> Art History. Contemporary games by artists can be analyzed both in
> relation to art and new forms of social activism, incidentally
> facilitated by the rise and expansion of computer networks .
> Conversely, videogame designers familiar with particular aspects of
> art and politics are producing games in line with these legacies.
> Videogames are part of histories of the computer and activism, which
> are also connected with the development of the digital arts. In sum, a
> fierce anti-commodity and non-violence current lays buried under the
> glitz and hubris of the videogame industry.  As the history of art
> expands to include diverse fields of media arts, the recognition of
> these practices is not only overdue but also urgent to the development
> of both art history and social understandings of media. In this
> interest, the above observations are meant as threads to stimulate
> discussion on this month's topic: alternative, diverse forms of gaming
> aimed at (cultural) change.
> Week 1 March 1st: Claudia Pederson (PT, NL), Paolo Pedercini (IT, US)kkkk,
> Week 2 March 8th: Joeeph Delappe (US), Soraya Murray (US)
> Week 3 March 15th: John Sharpe (US), Ken Eklund (US)
> Week 4: March 22nd: George Karalis (US),, Anne Marie Schleiner (S)
> Biographies:
> Renate Ferro is a conceptual artist working in emerging technology and
> culture. Most recently her work has been featured at The Freud Museum
> (London), The Dorksy Gallery (NY), The Hemispheric Institute and FOMMA
> (Mexico), The Janus Pannonius Muzeum (Hungary), and The Free
> University Berlin (Germany).  Her work has been published in such
> journals as Diacritics, Theatre Journal, and Epoch. She is a
> co-moderator for the online new media list serve -EMPYRE-soft-skinned
> space. Ferro is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of
> Art at Cornell University teaching digital media and theory. She also
> directs the Tinker Factory, a creative research lab for Research
> Design, Creativity, and Interdisciplinary Research.
> Claudia Costa Pederson received her Ph.D from the Art History and
> Visual Studies Department at Cornell with a dissertation entitled
> “Gaming the System.” Her research combines interests in the history
> and theory of art and social activism, with a focus on the digital
> arts in the United States and Europe, and beyond, as currently
> emerging, in cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural perspectives. Her
> current projects include, a second edition of her most recent
> publication, a short book entitled Declaration of Sentiments/Gün
> (2011) written with a group of Turkish women working in cultural
> fields, from electronic media, to politics, music, literature, and the
> visual arts; and an essay on Latin American artists working in media
> arts, which are extensions of social struggles around environmental
> issues. Her work in various forms can be found online.
> Paolo Pedercini is an Italian game developer, artist and educator. He
> teaches digital media production and experimental game design at the
> School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. He usually works under
> the project name Molleindustria, hopping between digital art,
> academia, game design, media activism and internet folk art.
> Molleindustria [soft industry/soft factory] is a project of
> reappropriation of video games, a call for the radicalization of
> popular culture, an independent game developer. Since 2003 we produced
> homeopathic remedies to the idiocy of mainstream entertainment in the
> form of free, short-form, online games. Our products range from
> satirical business simulations (McDonald's Video game, Oiligarchy,
> Phone Story) to meditations on labor and alienation (Every day the
> same dream, Tuboflex, Unmanned), from playable theories (the Free
> Culture Game, Leaky World) to politically incorrect pseudo-games
> (Orgasm Simulator, Faith Fighter).
> Jpseph Delappe
> Joseph DeLappe is a Professor of the Department of Art at the
> University of Nevada where he directs the Digital Media program.
> Working with electronic and new media since 1983, his work in online
> gaming performance and electromechanical installation have been shown
> throughout the United States and abroad - including exhibitions and
> performances in Australia, the United Kingdom, China, Germany, Spain,
> Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada. In 2006 he began a project
> dead-in-iraq , to type consecutively, all names of America's military
> casualties from the war in Iraq into the America's Army first person
> shooter online recruiting game. He also directs the iraqimemorial.org
> project, an ongoing web based exhibition and open call for proposed
> memorials to the many thousand of civilian casualties from the war in
> Iraq. He has lectured throughout the world regarding his work,
> including most recently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
> He has been interviewed on CNN, NPR, CBC, the Australian Broadcasting
> Corporation and on The Rachel Maddow Show on Air America Radio. His
> works have been featured in The New York Times, The Australian Morning
> Herald, Artweek, Art in America and in the 2010 book from Routledge
> entitled Joystick Soldiers The Politics of Play in Military Video
> Game.
> Soraya Murray
> Soraya Murray holds a Ph.D. in art history from Cornell University. An
> Assistant Professor in Film and Digital Media at the University of
> California, Santa Cruz, she is also faculty in the Digital Arts and
> New Media MFA Program. Murray is an interdisciplinary scholar who
> focuses on contemporary visual culture, with particular interest in
> new media, cultural studies and globalization in the arts.  Her
> writings have been published in Art Journal, Nka: Journal of
> Contemporary African Art, Public Art Review, Third Text  and PAJ: A
> Journal of Performance and Art. Murray inaugurated a course on UCSC's
> campus entitled "Video Games as Visual Culture" which promotes the
> study of games for their cultural meanings, visual analysis, as well
> as social and theoretical contexts.
> Ken Eklund
> Designer of a new breed of collaborative and socially relevant games,
> Ken Eklund is a leader in the emerging genre of serious alternate
> reality games (ARGs). Ken launches massively participatory narratives
> that focus on contemporary issues and ask “what if...?” In these games
> people immerse themselves in exploring the future and have fun
> collaborating democratically on positive solutions and action. Ken is
> known for creating the award-winning WORLD WITHOUT OIL, the
> groundbreaking collective imagining of our next oil shock, and GISKIN
> ANOMALY, the cellphone adventure for the museums in Balboa Park, San
> Diego. He also created ZOROP, which explored world peace by connecting
> strangers, with Annette Mees of Coney, and was Community Lead for
> EVOKE, the innovative social entrepreneurship initiative that won a
> Direct Impact Award in 2011 from Games For Change. Most recently, he's
> worked with Sara Thacher to create HISS POP, a narrative adventure on
> vinyl for The Exploratorium, and launched ED ZED OMEGA to explore
> education reform, in partnership with TPT (Twin Cities Public
> Television). He has designed games professionally for over 20 years.
> “To shape the future, play with it first!” he says.
> John Sharp is the Associate Professor of Games and Learning in the School
> of
> Art, Media and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design where he is
> co-director of PETLab (Prototyping, Education and Technology Lab). John is
> a
> game designer, graphic designer, art historian and educator. His research
> is
> focused on game design curriculum, videogame aesthetics, the history of
> play, and the early history of computer and video games. John is a member
> of
> the game design collective Local No. 12, which creates games from and for
> cultural contexts and conventions. He is also a partner in Supercosm LLC, a
> consultancy for non-profits and organizations in the arts, education and
> entertainment fields.
> Anne-Marie Schleiner is engaged in gaming and net culture in a variety
> of roles as a cultural critic, curator, anti-war activist, and gaming
> artist/designer. She has taught at universities and artist workshops
> and participated in art residencies in Germany, Belgium, Spain and
> Mexico. She has exhibited in international galleries, museums and
> festivals, more recently the Body in Women’s Art Now at London’s Rollo
> Art and the New Hall Art Collection, University of Cambridge. She
> teaches game design in the Communication and New Media Program at the
> National University of Singapore in South East Asia and holds a
> doctorate in Cultural Analysis from the University of Amsterdam.
> George Karalis is finishing his degree from Cornell University in the
> College Scholar Program for interdisciplinary studies. As a College
> Scholar his honor’s research has woven the areas of new media and film
> theory, software development and game design.  In this research he
> explores 3D sound environments in digital games.  In addition to his
> written thesis, he is developing a digital game in order to put his
> research concepts into practice. Currently code named "Square Waves,"
> the two-player cooperative game requires one player to face away from
> the screen and navigate the virtual 3D environment by only listening
> through headphones.
> ***George coded our new –empyre soft-skinned web interface that was
> launched in February 2013.  He has been working for a year on this
> interface.  As he moves to the commercial side of computing and
> software design after graduation we do hope he stays in touch.
> --
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
> Cornell University
> Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office #420
> Ithaca, NY  14853
> Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
> URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
>       http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
> Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net
> Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empyre
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20130302/c073c5ae/attachment.htm>

More information about the empyre mailing list