Posts for May 2004

Peace Is Not a Game

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Antiwargame, a free online game by the San Francisco-based futurefarmers collective, has a simple premise: stay president of the U.S.A. while the country is in crisis after a terrorist attack. The president’s tasks require giving orders to troops and setting the budget, which is divided into three sectors: military and business, foreign aid, and social spending. Immediate recognitions, like the directly proportional relationship between military spending and popularity, eventually lead to more confounding questions: is there anything the troops can do besides get promoted or do drugs? how can regular citizens become politically relevant without becoming soldiers? why do both sides lose during war? The ease of quickly understanding the game’s surface mechanics sets the stage for rich intellectual payoff and quandary upon extended play. Beginning, as it does, from a perspective in which confrontation is inevitable and urgent, this critique of war evolves into insights that are atypical and meditative. - Andrew Choate

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En Route Library!

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Gliding into its fourth year, projet MOBILIVRE/BOOKMOBILE project is a touring exhibition of artist books, zines and independent publications that will deliver nearly 300 works to a variety of venues in Canada and the US by way of a vintage Airstream trailer. Steered by a collective of North American artists and activists, this 50 foot mobile art show traverses routes that aren’t so gallery-dense, strengthening and developing networks for grassroots art and media. Along the tour, the coordinators facilitate pit-stop workshops and artist talks for visitors and passersby. Found inside are objects as diverse as hand-bound fabric flip books, a socially incisive board game by Daniel Noam Warner entitled 'Make Your Own Black Intellectual' (2004) and the colorful comics of multi-media trio Paper Rad. Each handcrafted work challenges your customary book-reading experience; collectively, they propose a new model for artistic exchange and distribution across location and generation. The Bookmobile collections will soon be archived at Artexte Information Centre in Montreal and available online. For now, you can comb through resources on independent book production, a photo gallery and the full tour schedule on the Bookmobile site - Lauren Cornell

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Honey I'm Home!

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Baudrillard's idea surrounding simulacra and simulation was the copy for which there is no original. Sometimes however there is an original, priceless and with which we must take special care: us! In games such as Sim City or Ultima Online, where playing with populace seems pretty productive, we might wonder if we are losing touch with real people, including ourselves? And if this kind of enmeshed living is creating the need for cyber-psychology? Situationist Sim City, held at Fact, Liverpool, UK Friday 28th May, aims to 'ponder the possibilities and dangers of online gaming worlds as a stage for art, politics, labour, and play'. Speakers include Julian Dibbell, author of A Rape in Cyberspace, cultural critic Ed Halter and artists Jelena Klasnja, Kristian Lukic and Natalie Bookchin. Are these online arenas the worlds we really want for ourselves, or is there a sinister design to make a home from home seem more like home sweet home? - Charlotte Frost

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Tasty and Addictive!

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Combining the simplicity of browser bookmarking with the social interplay of bare-bones blogging, New York-based Joshua Schachter's del.icio.us allows users to post, share and freely categorize their bookmarks within a commonly-accessible, continuously updated list. Built-in RSS and user-contributed hacks allow del.icio.us lists to appear on other sites as well. Broadly designed as an open-sourcing of Schachter's memepool site, del.icio.us provides a realtime feed of impulsive web-collecting. In between the dominant percentage of Slashdot-style tech links, users point each other to conservative pro-war rants, essays on speculative linguistics, the world’s cutest kitten photo collections, and idiosyncratic net art projects. Though the social potential of del.icio.us occasionally manifests itself in helpful suggestions or one-upping link-battles, the list's voyeuristic aspect is what truly completes the communal feel: it’s like reading the Web over someone else's shoulder. - Ed Halter

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