[-empyre-] proposal proposal +++ art and games world tour

isabelle arvers iarvers at gmail.com
Thu Sep 26 12:32:55 AEST 2019


Thank you so much Shu Lea for this introduction and also for this
possibility to talk about my art and games world tour, following these 4
amazing weeks of discussion.

To celebrate my 20 years as curator in the fields of art and video games, I
embarked in June 2019 on a world tour that takes me to over 15 countries:
South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, India, Colombia,
Argentina, Brasil, Mexico, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Egypt, Lebanon,
Israel and Palestine.

I am meeting digital artists and independent game developers in order to
come back with a richer, non Western-centric and more nuanced overview of
the different ways gaming communities across the world are exploring the
issue of diversity, with an emphasis on female, feminist, queer and
decolonial practices.

My expedition also investigates how we can create new concepts of “working
together” and new connections within the worlds of game art, independent
games, games DIY art.

In each country I am visiting, I interview artists, game makers, curators,
activists, hackers and also give lectures and workshops about the
relationship between art and video games. During these workshops, I use
independent, experimental and artistic games to make movies or hybrid
artworks. I use some of the independent games I am finding on my world tour
as a way to promote these games made in Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand,
which sometimes are still in the demo state. Here is a machinima made
during a workshop in Thailand by a teenager :

The aims are to break boundaries between the art and the game world and
also to promote alternative, independent and experimental games in order to
enhance diversity – gender, ethnicity and representation - in video games
and to promote the use of games as a pedagogic tool and as a tool of
expression to raise awareness about social, cultural, political and
environmental issues. Cf my interview on these issues with Audrey Tang,
Minister of Digital in Taiwan : https://youtu.be/sZ1WvVhzPgA

By meeting media artists and indie game developers and then writing
articles about their games or distributing podcasts of their interviews is
also a way to better understand a local culture, history and politics
through the lens of video games and artworks. In each country, I try to
focus on projects that deal with control and submission in South Korea, or
environmental issues or animism in Taiwan, mysticism in Indonesia,
crypto-colonialism in Thailand, extreme right shintoism in Japan, etc.

I monthly write articles in french for the online reviews Poptronics,
Immersion and Usbek & Rica
http://www.isabellearvers.com/category/art-and-games-world-tour/ but I
would love to find an english spoken media interested to publish my
articles in english as all my interviews are in english.

To better understand the focus on women, feminist queer and decolonial
practivces, here is an extract of the interview given to Régine Debatty for
We-make-money-not-art : « Women are still underrepresented in the industry
and even if things changed a lot after the Gamergate in the US, there is
still a need to change the representation of women in videogames and to
give more attention to games created by women or trans persons. In western
countries, there is a quite new consciousness about it, with conferences on
diversity in events like the Game Developers Conference or at Amaze, but I
am really interested to discover and meet other feminists in the non
western world as well as LGBTQI organizations around the world in order to
connect with other realities and create new paths and connections between

I worked a lot abroad but it was a “western” abroad: I mostly worked in the
US, in Europe, in Canada and in Australia. Western and white…

There is a strong network for our practices in the western world, but
diversity is a very recent concept in these worlds. It is great to feel
that recently it even became a new “trend”, a “tendency”, people even
mentioned feminism or diversity as a new “fashion”… Interesting but
dangerous when you see the power of evangelism growing in countries like
Brasil, USA or South Korea as well as abortion bans around the world. Our
emancipation is still young and might be weak so we need to defend it and
to connect around the world.

Trying to promote decolonial practices is something very important when you
think about games as a globalized culture. When I traveled to Brazil or
Egypt to give machinima workshops, I was surprised to discover that
youngsters were all playing to the same games: GTA, FIFA, Call of Duty,
Fortnite, etc… even if the local culture was powerful. In my workshops, I
tried to push youngsters to play Indie Games or games related to their
local culture, but it appeared as less fascinating to them… less
“beautiful”. It made me realize that we almost play the same games
everywhere, which mean that the moral, ethics, concepts of these games are
globalized. So, are they universal? Universalization is a colonialist
heritage. I want to decentralize my point of view in order to tell an other
story of videogames and art and create new types and axes of
collaborations. »

This project is giving birth to art and games exhibitions in Bogota (French
Alliance), Buenos Aires (Game on!) and Enschede (Overkill Festival) in
November as well as in the Digital Museum of Cairo next year. An
international conference on post-colonial games studies will be held at la
Sorbonne in fall 2020. I am also currently working on the organisation of
other projects in the countries visited for the upcoming years. Any help,
feedbacks, advices, etc are more than welcome as it is a one person project
that entirely depends on other people collaborations, meetings and
contacts. I am currently in Japan and will fly to India on sunday.

Thank you,

Isabelle Arvers
Isabelle Arvers
Curator, art critic and artist
Wattsap: +33 661 998 386
Director of Kareron www.kareron.com
twitter: @zabarvers
Skype ID: isabellearvers
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20190926/099a78b6/attachment.html>

More information about the empyre mailing list