Posts for September 2004

Newsworthy Games

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Forget fantasy roleplaying and action-packed adventure - here's a new game genre based on real-life event:: Newsgaming.com designs video games that are also tools for better understanding the world. Created by Gonzalo Frasca and a team of independent games developers, Newsgaming currently offers two online games and plans to publish several each year in response to world events. 'September 12th' highlights civilian casualties in the so-called war on terror. Declaring 'This is not a game. You can't win and you can't lose', it demonstrates the stupidity of the logic of an eye for an eye with deliberate simplicity. Shooting at terrorists destroys surrounding housing, and as the people cry, the numbers of terrorists increase. The message? Violence breeds violence. 'Madrid', on the other hand, is a form of digital mediatation: the player is invited to brighten candles in memory of victims of terrorist attacks all over the world. All terrorists and politicians should play these games. - Helen Varley Jamieson.

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This Old House

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In the tradition of massive industrial spaces transforming into powerhouse exhibition venues for contemporary art, Ayers Island in Orono, Maine has taken a couple cues. However, so far, said transformation has skipped much of the white-boxing and preserved the majority of the 360,000 square foot former textile factory in all its dilapidated glory. These halls have been reanimated by the first annual Ayers Island Contemporary Arts Festival: 'No Borders', curated by the University of Maine's Owen Smith. Antithetically, the location and history of Franco-Yankee Orono is situated relatively close to the Canadian border, perhaps encouraging the participation of new media students from Montreal, as well as London and Paris. Haunting installations like The Richards' 'Almost', a Xmas-light reindeer nodding from some hundred feet into the creaky depths of the factory, prime the space for the eerie transmissions of more technologically driven projects, like Margaretha Haughwout's .d.a.t.a.l.o.v.e.r., a beautiful game that mediates the playacted interactions of two entered 'lovers' who receive fictional identities from the computer, to reconcile face to face. The festival's closing festivities are Saturday, September 25th from 12 noon to 6 PM. Afterwards, we'll wait for next year, which will surely aid in confirming Orono as a much needed, spacious offline hub for new media bordered within the ever resource-friendly United States. - Kevin McGarry

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Nine Stories

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The 'illusory virtual objects' presently wafting through the project room of New York's Chelsea Art Museum catalyze a solid examination of the behaviors that embody new media objecthood. For 'The Passage of Mirage', on view through October 16, curators Christiane Paul and Zhang Ga have selected nine works that demonstrate successful tactics of processing, encoding, and transmitting reality in the form of exhaustive digital narratives or states of being. Particularly evocative of this Mobius strip kind of totality is UK team Thomson and Craighead's 'Short Films about Flying' (2003). Each in the infinite series of randomly arranged films emotes the utility and routine exhilaration of airports by bundling cached surveillance of launching flights with streaming radio and protagonist-inducing dialogue snipped from live chats taking place online. More is sure to come to form during the exhibition's annex symposium, 'Negotiating Realities', to be hosted by New School University on October 10th, Tishman Auditorium at 66 West 12th Street from 11AM to 5PM. - Kevin McGarry

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Better Living through ASCII

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ASCII, like fire, purifies. At least that's what New York artist Yoshi Sodeoka of group C505 hopes. Watching this latest project, ASCII BUSH, currently spotlighted at turbulence.org, one can see the similarities between the element and the protocol governing character interchange: alphanumerics twist through footage of two State of the Union addresses like tongues of flames. Sodeoka has filtered video from two generations of Bush presidents, offering online two lengthy addresses (January 12, 2003, by the incumbent George W. Bush; and March 6, 1991, by his father George H.W. Bush) rendered entirely in ASCII characters. The audio evokes a synthetic ambience, while numbers and letters pulse and converge, stitching together these presidential talking heads. According to the project notes, Sodeoka aspires '...to make art from the debris of our culture by recycling these dreadful and painfully long presidential oration(s)'. Quite possibly, these ASCII movies are closer to the true state of the union than the propaganda offered in the source materials. - Lewis LaCook

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