An exhibition of historic and contemporary artists' computer games.
Jorge Luis Borges' 1941 short story "The Garden of Forking Paths"
predates the Internet but its notions of non-linearity, the storyline
surrounding an infinite, labyrinthine book that realises multiple
paths and futures are echoed in the information age with hypertext,
the World Wide Web and the form and structure of computer games.
Just as Borges and his contemporaries pushed the envelope of the
narrative form, so too artists have been creating and modifying
computer games, experimenting with the notions of what a game is and
exploring alternate approaches to interaction and play methodologies.
This exhibition draws together notable historic and contemporary
examples of games created by artists that push the bounds of the
genre and break the orthodox set of rules.
Laurie Anderson (USA) with Hsin-Chien Huang (Taiwan)
Andy Deck (USA)
Anita Fontaine (Australia) and Mike Pelletier (Canada)
Jaron Lanier (USA)
Michael Nyman (UK)
Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie (UK)
Tale of Tales (Belgium)
3rd - 24th October 2009
Thursday & Friday 12pm-5pm
Loop Space. 109 Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW
Laurie Anderson (USA)
with Hsin-Chien Huang (Taiwan)
Laurie Anderson's interactive CD ROM Puppet Motel is an imaginary
universe made up of the interplay between light and darkness, mystery
and poetry. This universe is populated by puppets and, of course, its
creator, the artist herself. The three dimensional virtual spaces are
crammed with ghosts and secrets: the visitor is constantly taken by
Watch out for the electric sockets - they will take you back to the
hall of time. If you get stuck or lost, press the \u2018esc' key to go to
the motel basement where you can access all of the rooms.
Space Invaders Act 1732
Andy Deck (USA) 1995
Space Invaders Act 1732 is a response to the Space Advertising
Prohibitions Act of 1993, legislation against giant advertising
billboards in space that plays with the symbolism of the arcade classic.
Andy Deck makes public art for the Internet that resists generic
categorisation: collaborative drawing spaces, game-like search
engines, problematic interfaces, informative art. An avid critic of
corporate culture and militarism, Deck's hybrid news-art projects
have addressed a variety of issues that are regularly misrepresented
in the mass media. In the interest of preserving this available
alternative media, and sensing the drift of the Internet toward a
marketing and entertainment medium, he has allied himself with open
source software developers, optimising his work for use with the
Linux operating system, and publishing source code for much of his
Anita Fontaine (Australia) & Mike Pelletier (Canada)
CuteXDoom II is psychedelic video-game mod that takes a violent shoot
em up and converts it into an experience of popular cultures
obsession cuteness. Your character has joined a supermodern religious
cult which believes that the worship of cute material objects will
lead to happiness and enlightenment (or nasty experience!!).
Once granted access to the cult; thus completing level one, the
character then finds themselves awoken from a paroxysm to a now
hauntingly surreal landscape: the once hyper-cute characters have
been altered to appear malevolent, predatory. The protagonist has
essentially been \u201cpoisoned\u201d by the cult, and the objective undergoes
a paradigm shift to escape the cult. The character must then mediate
a psychedelic hyperspectra of disorientating hallucinogenic optical
effects. Fontaine draws the parallels between the \u201cpoison\u201d of vapid
materialism allowed to run rampant, and literally peels back the
fašade of \u201ccuteness\u201d to reveal a problematized cultural landscape.
Jaron Lanier (USA) 1983
Moondust is a generative music video game created for the Commodore
64 by virtual reality pioneer, Jaron Lanier and is widely considered
the first art video game, it is also considered to be the first
interactive music publication. Lanier formed VPL which would later go
on to create the DataGlove and to become one of the primary
innovators of virtual-reality research and development throughout the
Moondust's gameplay is characterized by graphical complexity, and the
game features an abstract ambient score. The goal of the game is to
guide a spaceman around the screen creating strange patterns and
getting bullet-shaped spaceships to pass through the trails that the
spaceman creates. In in-game scoring system assigns point-values
according to an algorithm.
Michael Nyman (UK) 2003
Frame Game is a video taken form the series Distractions, shot by
artist Michael Nyman in various parts of the world during the past
fifteen years. To Nyman, there seemed no point in filming static
monuments, so in Frame Game when he found him self at the ancient
site of Persepolis, the length of each shot of the static ruins is
dictated by the time it takes the frame to clear itself of tourists.
In post-production Nyman enters into a competition with those
tourists who choose not to move out of frame.
Experimentation with the medium of video, its limits and its ability
to allow an infinite range of possibilities and random coincidences,
remains a focal point in Nyman's work. In Frame Game, Nyman
appropriates the recording of an ordinary scene depicting a
historical site visited by a group of tourists. Shot with a hand-held
camera and altered with digital intervention, the footage is then
distorted and turned into a fictitious set of video games, seemingly
inviting the viewer to engage with the work, much in the same manner
a player would engage with a video game. Nyman's manipulation of his
own imagery is an attempt to communicate an alternative scenario of
the mundane and the monotonous, instantly transformed into a plot of
unfolding events and unexpected results. Consequently, the medium
becomes part of the message it conveys, contributing to the very
aesthetics it purports to describe.
An Artists Impression (of a Text Based Environment)
Nina Pope & Karen Guthrie (UK)
An Artists' Impression was a long-term project originating in Pope
and Guthrie's fascination with the \u2018soft underbelly' of the WWW!
Researching a number of live online \u2018games' and concentrating on
those where simple role-playing and social activities happened, and
where the characters, landscapes and activities occurred constantly
(in text only) and in realtime. These text-based worlds - the most
visually impoverished corners of the web - are nevertheless compelling.
Both banal / workaday and fantastical in content, the artists were
also impressed by the volume of regular players in these MUSHes and
MOOs, and the absence of anything more than a \u2018code of honour' in
most of these that delineated the players' conduct. They developed
their own social online game or MUSH, Island - which you can still
An open-ended experiment, it's a live, interactive space which during
the piece's most lively time - when the project was first exhibited
and toured - has hosted many players and seen many events and
buildings... Shortly after the work went online they decided to
undertake the making of a physical \u2018impression' of this space which
would still somehow articulate the impossibility of mirroring an
The online MUSH culture seemed intuitively to link to the aesthetic
of the model railway, and so the island was developed using these
modelling techniques and aesthetics. When the project was finally
exhibited (first at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London) the
visitor was met with a vast model island (8m x 4m) and us (the
artists) at work in corner workshops, constantly trying to update the
model with the online \u2018game' changes.
A parallel audience experienced the project solely online.
Tale of Tales (Belgium)
The Path is a darkly seductive horror game inspired by older versions
of little Red Riding Hood.
Six sisters live in an apartment in the city. One by one their mother
sends them on an errand to their grandmother, who is sick and
bedridden. The teenagers are instructed to go to grandmother's house
deep in the forest and, by all means, to stay on the path! Wolves are
hiding in the woods, just waiting for little girls to stray. But
young women are not exactly known for their obedience, are they?
Will they be able to resist the temptations of the forest? Will they
stay clear of danger? Can they prevent the ancient tale from being