Two couples team up to play B.U.T.T.O.N. (Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now) in the main lobby
Kill Screen curated a sold out Arcade two weeks ago at MoMA's July PopRally. The museum was packed with art and game enthusiast actively trying their skills with an array of eleven games spread across the first three floors and the garden. I'm a closeted game addict so the event culled no shortage of interest from me. I started out the night playing Starry Heavens, a large turn-based installation of networked dots predicated on a feudalist hierarchy, with a group of friends and the game's creators, Eric Zimmerman and Nathalie Pozzi. The giant heilium-filled weather balloons floating above the game's stage added a Calvino-esque ambience and a minaturizing sense of scale. B.U.T.T.O.N., a game built specifically on unfair tactics located inside the Museum's lobby, quickly shifted the slow pace of Starry Heavens into a frenzy of subversive button smashing, shouting, and friend pushing.
Overall the games offered a broad set of aesthetics and interactivity ranging from the cooperative, full-body, and homebrewed Kinect-meets-iPad PXL PUSHR (created by Matt Boch and Ryan Challinor) to the binary palette and hauntingly captivating experience of LIMBO - with a special note to QWOP, which garnered a long line and much moral support for participants. I caught up with Jamin over email to find out more about his logic in curating the event:
JH: What was your thought proces behind choosing that particular group of games?
JW: We chose games that reflected the breadth of developments in games over the last five years or so. As you know, the Arcade was tied to Talk To Me and the communication between objects and ourselves. So we wanted to find games that did the same thing -- that spoke different languages. LIMBO, for example, was chosen for its aesthetics and the monochromatic dream world that Playdead had created. Bit.Trip Beat was chosen for its pastiche and how it blends an old convention (Pong) with something new (sound). B.U.T.T.O.N. was chosen for its physicality and Canabalt was chosen for its austerity. We wanted a wide range of new experiences for attendees to explore.
One overall principle was to chose games that were easy to learn and interesting to watch. There were 1,000 tickets sold for the event so the environment needed to be one where we could cycle people quickly through games while not boring those on the periphery. There are other games that are wonderful but don't lend themselves to that type of setting.
Tentacle was projected to fill an entire wall as players downloaded the app and interacted using their smarthpones
JH: How did you choose the locations for each game? Was based it simply on available space or linked somehow to art that was in the locations before?
via John Powers
Language is a staple of art criticism, art history, and art making. In its frequent use as the architecture of communication, language mutates to survive and fit the needs of the culture that creates and maintains it. Continuing the lineage of glyph generation F.A.T Labs have created new QR_STENCILER and subsequently QR_HOBO_CODES which are QR translations of Hobo glyphs with additions made to help tech-savvy urbanites.
images via F.A.T Labs
Margaret Kilgallen embodied handcrafted making in her work. She also quietly chanelled and appropriated the lexicon and symbology of vintage advertising. Reflecting on an exhibition of her work up now at Ratio 3 gallery in San Francisco there are undeniable corollaries between her intepretations of capitalism's presence in the everyday and artists who use tactics similar to hers but are engaged with more advanced technologies. The author Simon Reynolds added extra framing for Kilgallen's work in a recent interview:
The posher you are the more you have invested in a narrative of things being much better in the old days when people knew their place.
I think the whole antiquing thing, this vintage thing, has something to do with this weird middle class thing of wanting to distance yourself from consumerism while still consuming – because it's enjoyable and you like to have things – and I came across this really cool quote by this artist called Margaret Kilgallen. She uses a lot of commercial imagery and old commercials and signage and stuff from another era… things she got from advertisements in old magazines.
She said something like: "This stuff becomes interesting to me when it's no longer selling anything to me."
- Simon Reynolds, from an interview about his new book Retromania on The Quietus
images via Ratio 3
Hi Tom, and all
First off, the purpose of Required Reading is to point to compelling articles relevant to new media. We're not always endorsing them 100%, but also often sharing them with Rhiz readers for the purpose of discussion. (Its a column Rhizome has been running for 2 years.) I thought Davis' article was worth inclusion because its an attempt at defining the field, and its a proposition: The first five sections draw lines between what Davis describes as social media art and other forms of new media. But in his final section, he closes his analysis with some self-criticism: "It’s not a frame to think within. It’s a box that needs to be escaped."
With that in mind, Salas makes a good point about it including traditional definitions of art, and the absence of participatory art, including contemporary practitioners like Miranda July and Harold Fletcher. In my opinion, I appreciate a non media art critic calling for a deeper and broader research of social media artwork - but I agree, to some extent, that an attempt to form definitions at a point of emergence can prove to be problematic, and boxes art in inappropriate ways.
Thanks for writing.
Again, a great initial resource is the Rhizome list of New Media Programs. We have programs listed and linked in the States and Abroad. I think there is a good school in the south of France. If I find the link I'll post here.
Definitely check the New Media program list with Rhizome first. I'm in the MFA program at RISD right now and can say that it offers a lot of flexibility and resources to students. As a note, we're in the middle of an international search for a new department head which should end at the end of this academic year. Feel free to email me if you have any extra questions. The programs website is here: http://dm.risd.edu
You can also cruise this mega list of national new media programs:
It's not exclusively MFA but it's a good starting point for broader research on schools.
I know SVA just started an Interdisciplinary MFA program that might be worth checking out:
I've had a few friends who have gone to ITP too that had a good experience. The RISD program is geared more toward Fine Art and you can take courses at Brown - ITP is more technically focused. At least that's my understanding.