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archive: Coverage of Gameworld at Laboral
Posted on Wednesday, April 04 @ 17:30:00 CEST by julian

You'd be right to think Gijon, Spain might seem like an unlikely place to host the largest exhibition on the field of artistic games to date. This didn't stop thousands from attending, many who flew in for the show. The great turnout was of course also due to the fact that Gameworld was just one of four concurrent exhibitions inaugurating the opening of the Laboral, the gigantic new Asturian art center (North of Spain).

I arrived on Tuesday after spending a few sleepless nights working on my own piece for the exhibit, a 2 player version of my Second Person Shooter in the form of a QuakeIII mod. I had no idea quite what to expect, though I'd helped out curators Carl Goodman and Daphne Dragona a little with advice on what shape the show should've taken. I walked into an enormous interior partly-clad blue landscape, a lot of hardware, whirring drills and a few dozen people looking quite confused about it all. This is what it looked like less than 36 hours before the opening (thanks to Feizi for the snap).

Cutting to the chase, here's the lineup (taken from Pau's post here):
Read on for more..

There was some work there that was I was pleased to play again, and some we at SP had never played before.

Eddo's sensory deprivation game DarkGame was a real treat. While I'd read about the project I had never been convinced of just how a play model built around sensory deprivation - outside of sheer sadism - might actually work. The 2 player DarkGame is itself a work of great production: the strong sense of atmosphere propels you into an unnegotiable drive to survive on barren tundra using a head-mounted vibrating force-feedback device from which you determine the orientation of both your prey and a spirit entity that provides you with the capacity to hunt, all while taking away your sight. I agree, that was a long sentence.

Kirschner's Movie Sandbox is an impressive mod-come-machinima-tool built atop the UT engine, complete with a point-and-click design interface to aid the user in building a diverse array of input and control models: from sound driven puppetry through to camera animation. Anyone interested in a gestural interface to the animation subsystem of Unreal Tournament should take a look at this.

Walter Langelaar's n0tb0t antagonises conventions of games as slave to our control. n0tb0t decouples the user-agent from the input chain, leaving just a joystick thrashing about in response to every twist and turn of a bot rampaging through a stock QuakeIII level. My first impression of n0tb0t was of a haunting: an AI that would take no more, fighting back at the input device in an urgent attempt to disenfranchise itself from a history of bondage. What is actually going on however is a little more complex, a feedback loop of sorts where the bot is driven by the input device and the input device by the bot. A nice surprise was to find that Walter was using pix and my q3apd module in the piece to handle messages. Nice work Walter and thanks to Aram Bartholl for the snap. See the rest of his failry comprehensive Laboral photostream here.

The CA/BE group Workspace Unlimited poured a huge amount of time into creating a model of the floor Gameworld inhabited, extending the space both architecturally and functionally by creating a linked 'double' of the living space that received video input, appearing as an ephemeral overlay. This echo of the living into the digital was a welcome backdrop for the show, underscoring a co-existance between the worlds of game and life.

Joan Leandre, A.K.A Retroyou, showed a full version of his RC Racer de-composition/modification, a piece which whose sheer volume of graphic richness has had me jealous for years. A churning graphic mix producing completely unlikely hybrids of logo, land and machine. Joan, you're a clever bastard. Cory Arcangel and Paperrad's Super Mario Movie was an impressive example of presentation: a projector, console and cartridge providing a floor to ceiling canvas-like surface of moving image. Playing The Furminator again only made it better. A stellar piece that one, and one that stood up to the large proportion of the crowd just after a good time: this was no 'art crowd'.

I won't cover the other events at the Laboral. Which had more work than I could or should possibly mention here. Nonetheless here's a photostream from Eyebeam's Graffiti Reseach Lab (whose uncompromising shenanegans with throwies brought them into notoriety on a rainy Asturian night) and another from 'desdasturiascom'.

Thanks to curators Carl Goodman of the American Museum of the Moving Image and Daphne Dragona of Mediaterra fame for what turned out to be a great contribution to the brief history of artistic game development and for having me there. Pulling that off was one hell of a feat of curatorial prowess.

Gameworld will be running or three months at the Laboral.

NB:I'll let you know when my 2 player Second Person Shooter is actually finished and will post some screenshots/clips. Nothing like seeing a 10 year old hammer it for an hour to know what needs improving.

Related Links
· More about Exhibitions
· News by julian

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