Kristine Ploug
Since 2002
Works in Copenhagen Denmark

BIO
Kristine Ploug holds an MA in Danish Language and Literature from University of Copenhagen. During her time as a visiting scholar at New York University, she spent more time in Chelsea’s galleries than at campus eventually stumbling upon Jeremy Blake’s Angel Dust at Feigen Contemporary. This first encounter with digital art started an avalanche of related activities. She focused her thesis on net.art and in 2002 she founded the Danish ezine kopenhagen.dk’s mini portal for net art kopenhagen.dk/net.art. In 2003 she - together with Thomas Petersen - started artificial.dk, which is a much larger continuation of the kopenhagen net art site and has a broader focus.

http://www.nohalo.dk
http://www.artificial.dk

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DISCUSSION

Artificial at Refresh!


'How has new media influenced society in the past 10 years?' and 'What are the biggest challenges to the future development of new media?' are two of the four questions Artificial's Torben Olander asked 17 different people at the Refresh festival in Banff, Canada this fall. Those are central questions to all of us working in this area and it is very interesting to read the answers.

Read the article here:
http://www.artificial.dk/articles/refresh2005.htm

/Kristine

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Kristine Ploug
Co-editor
artificial.dk
Tel: +45 2819 8374

EVENT

Art Games - more articles


Dates:
Tue Jan 31, 2006 00:00 - Mon Jan 30, 2006

Artificial continues its special on Art Games:

Here are two more articles:

***
Keeping Watch on the Cultural Frontier - Interview with Steve Wilson
Torben Olander talked to San Francisco based artist Steve Wilson, who combines art, science and games.

Read the interview here: http://www.artificial.dk/articles/wilson.htm

***
From an Artist's Perspective
Artist Mathias Fuchs gives his perspective on Art Games. In his terminology, Game Art is the right word to use.

First 'Video killed the Radio Star', then the interactive media made video look blunt, and now computer games seem to be more sexy than any other media ever has been ...

Read the full article here: http://www.artificial.dk/articles/fromanartist.htm

***

Read all the articles in Artificial's Special on Art Games: http://www.artificial.dk/articles/artgamesspecial.htm

/Kristine

--
Kristine Ploug
Co-editor
artificial.dk


DISCUSSION

Artificial Special: Art Games


Art Games

Art Games is becoming a genre. Kristine Ploug gives an introduction.

Originally published at: http://www.artificial.dk/articles/artgamesintro.htm

A list of recommended Art Games here: http://www.artificial.dk/articles/artgamesnetworks.htm

All articles in this series:
http://www.artificial.dk/articles/artgamesspecial.htm

Computer Games
The first computer game, Spacewar, was born at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961. Then an era of Pong and subsequently more advanced arcade games occurred. Then came the consoles - both for use at home and the handheld ones, the latest arrival being the PlayStation Portable, the PSP. We now live in a time of increasingly advanced 3D games for different platforms.

The computer game industry is thriving. It is making more money than the movie industry, and games are showing up in more and more contexts. A lot of box office hits are accompanied by games (Harry Potter, Lord of the Ring …) and with the new movie King Kong the game is even launched before the movie.
Games are virtually everywhere. Politicians have games on their websites as part of their election campaigns. Kids are increasingly learning through games. Games are everywhere and it is believed that they will move into even more places in the future.

Introducing: Art Games
But enough about games as such. As a small subcategory of computer games you find Art Games. They are made by artists as pieces of art. Some have ulterior motives, mainly political, others are merely a playful piece of interaction with the user.
What makes them art and not just games? For some, the fact that they were made as art, for others the fact that they are exhibited as art - it can all be boiled down to the intention behind them, originating from either the curator or the artist. An example of an art game is Samorost, which was made as a quirky design project, rather than art, but has been seen by several curators as art.

In the right context, commercial games can be perceived as art as well. There is no doubt that a lot of talent, skill and will goes into producing the commercial games. And although they are not produced as art, but merely as entertainment, we see a lot of examples of things that were not meant as art being exhibited in an art context. Benjamin Fry's Valence is an example of a tool with a concrete purpose that has been exhibited as art and thus becomes art. And what commercial computer games are lacking in artistic thought, they undoubtedly possess in craft and an impressive use of the technology. Another discussion is, whether it is good art or bad and I must admit that I find most commercial games inferior as art. And not least: I find the discussion boring. So, back to art games.

Art Games: A Few Characteristics
It seems that there are a few defining characteristics to art games. Tiffany Holmes gives a definition of art games in her article Arcade Classics Spawn Art? Current Trends in the Art Game Genre (2003). Her definition goes: " … art games contain two of the following: a defined way to win or experience success in a mental challenge, passage through a series of levels (that may or may not be hierarchical), or a central character or icon which represents the player."
I can add that in most cases the art games are neither addictive nor meant to be played over and over, but merely shorter comments. Most art games are playable online, they are usually made for a PC and usually meant for a single player. The games always have interaction, but this interaction doesn't always have an effect on what goes on in the game. In Natalie Bookchin's game The Intruder, the many different games played by the user are merely a way to keep the user busy, while listening to a story by Jorge Luis Borges.

Art games can roughly be divided into two groups: political games and aesthetic games. A clear political game is Gonzalo Frasca's September 12. Another division can be made between the made-from-scratch games and the art mods - modifications of existing games. A lot of the big games allow modding, where you can create your own version of the game. A category related to the art mods is Machinima (a short form of mechanical animation ), pre-recorded and often edited movies made in a game by many users coordinating their characters. At this year's Ars Electronica, they showed several Machinimas.

Several art games don't quite fit the categories, but are using elements from the game format in the artwork. Computer based art has the advantage of using a media that is truly contemporary and integrated in our everyday life - at Artificial, we believe that it is the natural art of our times. Reacting to - and using the language of - computer games is an obvious development.
In a recent interview with Artificial, the creator behind Samorost, Jakub Dvorsky, said when asked what the game genre has to offer: "It's obvious - games are so popular because when you are playing games you are not only a viewer but also a player - you can influence what is happening in the game. So the artist creating an 'artistic game' can count on it and involve some new ideas in it, which couldn't work in movies, literature or in paintings. In my opinion, the game genre brings a whole new universe of possibilities for artists."

With games being the art form of the future, it is quite funny, though, that a lot of artist s use the retro-aesthetics of the 70's and 80's games. The pixelated spaceship of Space Invaders is seen several places and so is Pac Man and Super Mario. It is quite rare to see an art game looking like a slick 3D photo - like Hitman. There might be several reasons for this. The nostalgic, iconic, retro-aesthetics might be what the artists are after, but it might also be because the 3D environment is simply not feasible. The computer industry spends years and lots of money on their production and resembling that on a artist budget might not be possible.

To be Continued …
Over the next month, Artificial will bring you various articles about art games. Stay tuned. And in case you are still wondering: Computer games are for grown-ups - we have statistic material to back us on this one.

More?

For theoretical readings about art games:
Pippa Stalker:
http://www.selectparks.net/dl/PippaStalker\_GamingInArt.pdf

Tiffany Holmes:
"Arcade Classics Spawn Art? Current Trends in the Art Game Genre"

Rebecca Cannon:
Introduction to Artistic Computer Game Modification.

Tilman Baumgartel:
On a Number of Aspects of Artistic Computer Games

Anne-Marie Schleiner et al:
Theme issue of the online journal Switch: Games

Exhibitions:
Computer Games by Artists (Curated by Tilman Baumgartel)
Trigger (Cutared by Rebecca Cannon)
Cracking the Maze (Curated by Anne-Marie Schleiner)

Other links:
Website dedicated to art games run by Julian Oliver and Rebecca Cannon: http://www.selectparks.net/

Cool site with a blog and links to art games: http://www.gamesareart.com/

Kristine Ploug
Co-editor
www.artificial.dk
kristine@artificial.dk
Tel: +45 2819 8374

DISCUSSION

Interview with Theo Jansen


“When the weather was beautiful I thought it was a waste of time to sit in front of the computer”

Sebastian Campion Interviews Theo Jansen

Originally published at http://www.artificial.dk/articles/theojansen.htm

Theo Jansen is a Dutch artist with a background in science. For the last 15 years, he has been evolving a series of wind-powered animals, made of plastic tubes. When these constructions are fed by wind, they set into motion and transmute into organic-looking creatures; or beach-animals as Jansen calls them. Theo Jansen received the Jury's Special Price in the Interactive Art category at Ars Electronica Festival 2005. Sebastian Campion met him for a talk.

Long before becoming an artist, you studied science. What brought you from one discipline to the other?
Well, I liked science very much. A science teacher in high school inspired me and because of him I began studying science at the university. But when I got there... well, the subject still attracted me a lot but I had to do all these exams and it was just like working in an office. I couldn't stand that. I was already painting a lot so after seven years of science studies I began studying art instead and then became a professional painter. That's what I did until 1979 when I created a UFO - a flying saucer - which brought the science part back into my work again.

Did you miss science after all?
I didn't miss it. It just came back when I was making the UFO. It was fun to calculate the forces and thinking of the construction.

You have been developing the beach animals for about 15 years. How has the project evolved over the years?
The first beach animal I created didn't have very strong joints. It couldn't even walk or stand, but one night I had a vision about the principle of its feet. So, based on the simple PCV tubes that I still use, I built a computer model and tried to calculate the best way to create a walking movement. This process went on for some months, day and night before I found the right proportion between the lengths of the tubes. The philosophical ideas were not really there from the beginning, but they have grown more complete with the years. It's not important just to make things, but also to reflect about them.

Did real animals or organisms inspire you?
I didn't try to imitate animals. I just wanted to make something new. Afterwards, it turned out that real animals already used the same principle so when people look at the beach animals they often recognize the movement of an animal. But it wasn't my intention.

Apart from using a computer for engineering purposes in the early stages of the beach animals, have you ever been interested in using the computer as an integral part of your artistic work?
Before making the first beach animal I spend some time writing evolution programs of worms that live on the computer screen. I also had periods when I was addicted to the computer. Therefore, I recognize what many people have in the computer world. They jump in at morning and jump out at night. It was also fun for me in a period but after a while I thought: is this my life? When the weather was beautiful I thought it was a waste of time to sit in front of the computer.

Did you have a need for the physical and uncontrollable environment that nature offers?
Yes, I think I did. Because of the beach animals I am often outside in rain and storm and I like that a lot - apart from the heavy storms. I have often been alone on the beach with a herd of animals and when the wind came by, the whole herd would collapse and roll over the beach. Everything would go out of order.

In some sense, we experience nature through you. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that many people find your work fascinating?
Yes, maybe people miss being close to nature. That is probably why they recognize my fun and want to be a part of it. I can be fascinated with very little things. The clouds stimulate my imagination and sometimes I just sit somewhere and go on dreaming for a long time. Your head is also a computer. When you're dreaming you are simulating a world in which you are living. During the night, it's a dream you can't control and during the day it's more like a second life in your head. It's all interpretations of the real world.

You also make people smile. Why do you think that is?
I think they see something in me that they recognize in themselves, perhaps something from their childhood. They want to help me, they want to go with me and join me in my dream. That stimulates me very much. I think that somehow the beach animals are really personal. Some people, who never saw them before, recognize me in the animals when they see them. It's strange but it also feels good. I mean, then I know that I am the inventor and that nobody else could have done it. I am a melancholic type but still, I like to make a joke and I think that is expressed in my work.

After so many years, are you in control of the beach animals or are they really controlling you?
They have always controlled me. I obeyed their laws. Only recently they do what I want.

What will be the next steps?
I think the next steps will be their brains. Now they have stomachs and can walk on air. But the brains are something, which they really need. Right now, I can only leave them alone for 5 minutes and if I want to extend that period they really must learn to think for themselves.

In order for people to live and work, the Netherlands has been forced to design and cultivate its nature like no other country in the world. It seems that your work conceptualizes this pragmatic relationship with nature.
Well, I think the Netherlands will become one big city at a point. It is inevitable when you live in a country with so many people. You cannot afford to leave nature as it is. Some people believe that the dunes should be left in their original state, but I think it's strange to let things become how they were 500 years ago. Of course I prefer to have nature around me, but it doesn't have to be with the exact original vegetation for nostalgic reasons. Nature is moving and making new things.

Theo Jansen: www.strandbeest.com

Kristine Ploug
Co-editor
artificial.dk
Tel: +45 2819 8374

DISCUSSION

Interview with Jeremy Blake


Interview with Jeremy Blake about his Winchester Trilogy, currently shown at SFMoMA.

Read full interview here: http://www.artificial.dk/articles/jeremyblake.htm

During the last five years Jeremy Blake has established himself on the international art scene with his fusion of abstract paintings, film footage, sound and animation. A process he himself describes as ‘time-based paintings'. His continually looping DVDs have been projected on plasma screens at museums world wide, and outside the traditional art institutions his hallucinatory transmutations of colors and shapes have played an important part in Paul Thomas Anderson's movie Punch-Drunk Love and served as a visual accompaniment to Beck's live shows during his Sea Change tour.

Until October 1oth his Winchester trilogy, Winchester (2002), 1906 (2003), and Century 21 (2004) is shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where artificial.dk's Torben Olander recently met the artist.

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Kristine Ploug
Co-editor
artificial.dk
Gl. Mont 19 a
1117 Copenhagen K
+45 2819 8374