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Archive by February, 2008

Text and Interview for the Exhibition “An 8-bit Moment in Gameplay,” by Eduardo Navas

Image and text source: gallery@calit2

The following text and interview were written for the exhibition “An 8-bit Moment in Gameplay: [giantJoystick],” featuring a ten-foot scale working model of the Atari Joystick by artist and media theorist, Mary Flanagan. The exhibition takes place from February 4 to March 17, 2008. You can read more about it at http://gallery.calit2.net.

Both, text and interview, focus in part on the concept of gameplay and its relation to the mainstream as well as the fine arts. The texts are worth archiving in Remix Theory because they shed light on video game culture which, as it’s no secret, relies extensively in concepts of appropriation intimately linked to the current practice of remixing (Remix). For instance, video game players, or gamers, are no longer only expected to play games as out of a package, or as released online; gamers are expected to actually contribute to the game infrastructure by customizing it, either for personal play, or for the enjoyment of the larger community, following the tradition of open source. Examples of this activity are numerous (see Wikipedia list).

Video game culture is in large part fueled by the same principles that have made networked culture possible: the possibility to share and remix code as desired, to then re-release it for the community to use and improve upon, again. This tendency follows my proposition about the blogger which encapsulates a consumer/producer model that is proactive in media culture. Some skepticism is healthy here, and it must be acknowledged that romanticizing such model is a real danger for new media and remix culture.

The following texts, then, offer a window to some of the issues that inform gameplay today. The texts can be considered valuable because they reflect upon and extend the opinion of one of today’s gameplay insiders, Mary Flanagan.

TEXT: An 8-bit Moment in Gameplay: [giantJoystick]

Atkinson Hall
University of California, San Diego
February 4 to March 17, 2008
Featuring [giantJoystick] by Mary Flanigan

gallery@calit2 proudly presents “An 8-bit Moment in Gameplay: [giantJoystick],” featuring a working, large-scale game-interface-sculpture designed for collaborative play by artist and media theorist Mary Flanagan. [giantJoystick] (2006) takes us back to the early days of video games when they entered the home. It features classic Atari games from the 1980s, including Adventure, Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, Circus Atari, Gravitar, Missile Command, Pong, Volleyball, and Yar’s Revenge. The recontextualization of such classics opens a space to reflect on the brief and dense history of video games and the aesthetics of play.

Video game consoles, which offered low-resolution graphics known as 8-bit, were made popular in large part by Atari in 1977. However, video games did not enter the average household in full force until the early 1980s. To many, the years 1979 to 1986 are remembered as the “golden age” of video games – a period when popular culture would also be exposed to digital technology with the introduction of the personal computer. It is, then, not surprising that video games entered the home in this time period. Flanagan’s [giantJoystick] takes us back to this pivotal moment by turning the Atari joystick into a work of art, which carefully combines her interests in art-making as well as gameplay.


Mashups Are Breaking the Mold at Microsoft, by John Markoff

Image and text source: NYTimes

Published: February 10, 2008

REDMOND, Wash. — TUCKED away in a building on this forested corporate campus, John Montgomery and his team of 17 programmers might be more at home in Silicon Valley than at Microsoft.

Compared with its tenacious Internet competitors like Google and Yahoo, Microsoft is generally still viewed as being more of the shrink-wrapped software generation than the Web 2.0 world.

In Silicon Valley today, software is increasingly delivered as a Web service, it is often put together by teams of programmers who might be scattered on three continents, it’s often free to users, and Web surfers usually do the testing soon after the first prototype is complete.

By contrast, Microsoft has long been a software engineering culture in which huge projects like Windows Vista are developed and tested by teams of hundreds, and whose completion time is measured in a large fraction of decades.

Although it is not yet widely visible to the outside world, some people inside Microsoft are beginning to break that mold.

Mr. Montgomery, a veteran product manager who has also worked as a computer industry writer and editor, is an example of how it just might be possible to teach dinosaurs to dance.

Read the entire article at NYTimes

Chance in a Lifetime: John G. Hanhardt on Nam June Paik

Image source: Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Originally published on ArtForum,  April, 2006  by John G. Hanhardt

Text source: Bnet

How soon TV-chair will be available in most museums?
How soon artists will have their own TV channels?
How soon wall to wall TV for video art will be installed in most homes?
–Nam June Paik, A New Design for TV Chair, 1973

THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE of Nam June Paik–who died at his home in Miami Beach on January 29–is clear in the expressions commonly used to describe his unique role in transforming the nascent medium of video into a contemporary art form, from the “father of video art” to the “George Washington of video.” It is incredible to think that an entire decade before Paik predicted the ubiquity of video technology in A New Design for TV Chair, he was featuring his “prepared,” or altered, televisions in solo exhibitions. And as we become the media culture he envisioned in his artwork and writings, we can see how the range of Paik’s creative accomplishments and both the prescience and breadth of his thinking–in a practice unlike anything that preceded him–are all the more astonishing. From his early performances to his work in music, television, video, and film, Paik was constantly in action, exploring and expanding the horizons of art.

Read the entire article at  Bnet

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