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Label: video games

Wednesday 07th October 2015Virtual Reality Art

Ever since the early 1980s when virtual reality technology was initially developed, people have been waiting for it to revolutionize the world, whether it's in the world of computers, art installations, films, or more esoteric applications like data visualizations. Time and again, users have been generally disappointed by the various virtual reality offerings, however, as the technology itself has been unable to keep up with the demands of the users. This may be all about to change with the upcoming commercial release of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

The Oculus Rift headset is actually one of the most successful results of the recent crowdfunding phenomenon that has completely shaken up the world of product startups, originally being put forward as a project on the website Kickstarter. It's not quite ready for consumer purchase yet, but the manufacturers are hoping for a release in the first quarter of 2016, with preorders beginning towards the end of this year. Luckily for all of us consumers, developer versions of the headset have been available for quite some time now, which means that interested parties have been able to get a hold of a prerelease version of the equipment in order to begin creating content for all the rest of us, and this includes an impressive number of artists who have been salivating at the chance to start exploring what the technology can do.

We have already discussed the relative merits of the idea of video games as art, but the Oculus Rift completely changes this entire dialog and dumps it on its head. Suddenly the idea of just what a video game really is begins to change, as the (virtual) realities of interactive films force us to re-evaluate our preconceptions.

One artist who is exploring these exciting new virtual realities is Canadian artist Jon Rafman, who has had a recent exhibit at the Zabludowicz Collection in London. The overall exhibit hasn't met with resounding success, but by far the most popular element of the show is his exploration of the Oculus VR headset. The piece is entitled Sculpture Garden (Hedge Maze), and takes the viewers through a bizarre surreal world populated by eerie moments and unexpected fears. We're going to take a closer look at his work in the future with one of our upcoming Artist Spotlight pieces, so be sure to keep an eye out for that. You can also be sure that he won't be the only one working with the Oculus Rift, so expect to start finding more and more of the sleek black headsets in galleries around the world.
 

Posted on October 07th 2015 on 06:32pm
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Wednesday 20th May 2015More Video Game Art Intersections

We've recently discussed the debate over whether or not it's reasonable to treat video games as art, admittedly with vary degrees of conviction. While it's hard to label games like Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty 'art', their complex storytelling and visual flair sometimes verge on the cinematic – and few people would quibble over whether or not cinema can be considered art. Once you've accepted the fact that traditional barriers mean less and less as technology advances and the focus can once again move back to the impact of a certain object, arguments against the idea grow weaker and weaker.

The important thing is to not get too set in your perception of what a video game is. As we said, GTA and CoD are not really attempting to be artistic, but they're only one possible interpretation of art. Nobody would disagree that an Ingmar Bergman film is art, but nobody would argue that Jaws is anywhere on the same plane. In other words, the format doesn't define the perception of art/not art, but rather the content, intent and impact of what is done with the format. Following that premise, we dive into the artistic video games of Pippin Barr, the New Zealand–born video game designer now based on the island of Malta.

“The world of video games is so often so hostile to contemporary art and its ideas, and if not hostile often just utterly indifferent,” Barr said, speaking to digital culture magazine Vulture. “Games are a very interesting platform from which to explore ideas about art and to allow or encourage game players to think about those ideas.”

He's created a variety of different games which intersect with the art world, and he's had a few intersections with the art world himself. Famous performance artist Marina Abramovic, whose piece 'The Artist is Present' at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City both fascinated and frustrated viewers as they waited in line for hours for a chance to sit opposite the artist, collaborated with Barr on a digital version that mimics the experience virtually – right down to the museum's hours of operation. This is, of course, just one of the games that he's created, and he's constantly working on more, often in collaboration with the Marina Abramovic Institute, so swing by his website to check out what he's been up to lately – as long as you don't mind a possible wait!

 

Posted on May 20th 2015 on 03:21pm
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Friday 13th February 2015Can Video Games Be Art?

At first blush, many of you are probably reacting with horror at the very idea. Video games? Art? You can't be serious. But once you get over your initial fit of laughter, and you begin to take a closer look at some of the work that is being produced in the newest crop of games, you might be willing to admit that these artifacts have come a long way since Pac-Man and Pong. If films as art is within your sphere of acceptance, then video games can't be far behind.

Ultimately, it really comes down to what art means to you. If art is something that challenges social perceptions, inspires emotions or adds a little touch of beauty in the world, then some of the latest video games will likely knock your socks off. In fact, the medium has advanced so much and taken such a hold in the modern world that a museum dedicated to them was recently announced in the United States.

Located in Rochester in New York state, the World Video Game Hall of Fame is a project by the Strong National Museum of Play, and as the Strong put it, created to "recognize individual electronic games of all types — arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile — that have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general," which does rather sound like something an art museum might be able to claim.

Whether or not that sways you, it still begs the question, "can video games be art?" The answer, of course, is yes, but they are not inherently art. If you believe that Shia LaBoeuf sitting in a room where anyone can do anything they want to him - or the piece by the original artist he was ripping off, for that matter - counts as art, then a video game with an emotionally charged narrative that asks deep questions about the nature of morality, friendship and loneliness can't be that far away from the mark.

So before you give up on the latest generation, take a bit of time to get to know what you might be dismissing. Angry Birds probably isn't art, but who knows - those pigs are rather remarkable.  
 

Posted on February 13th 2015 on 02:22pm
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Labels: art, video games
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