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Art & Culture

More on Online Museums

Adobe Museum of Digital Media

Rhizome recently published a piece I wrote entitled “Moving the Museum Online“. The piece was a critique of the Adobe Museum of Digital Media, and also served as a platform to discuss the concept of online museums, and highlight a few examples that I thought were particularly noteworthy, including the Virtual Museums of Canada, the Museum of Online Museums, the MINI Museum, and Google’s recent Art Project.

In both the comments section on the piece and through Twitter comments and emails, people have kindly been pointing out other examples of online museums that are of interest. Here are three that stood out:

Guggenheim Virtual Museum (vintage: 2001): “The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has commissioned the New York firm Asymptote Architects to design and implement a new Guggenheim Museum in cyberspace. This is the first phase of a three-year initiative to construct an entirely new museum facility. The structure will be an ongoing work in process, with new sections added as older sections are renovated. The project will consist of navigable three-dimensional spatial entities accessible on the Internet as well as real-time interactive components installed at the various Guggenheim locations.

As envisioned by Asymptote and the Guggenheim, the Guggenheim Virtual Museum will emerge from the fusion of information space, art, commerce, and architecture to become the first important virtual building of the 21st century.”

muSIEum (vintage: unknown, pre-2009): This online reconfiguration of four Viennese museums “…displaying gender, criticizing the conventional hegemonial ordering of things”, and “bringing out the different storylines that could (have) been told with the same objects from a standpoint counter-acting the cultural hegemony of the patriarchal view”. An intervention that is needed not just in Vienna, I’d wager. In German only.

MIX-m (vintage: 2001 – 2003): “MIX-m stands for MIXed-museum. It is a contemporary art museum that exists both in physical and digital spaces, in localized and networked environments. MIX-m plays with the dimensions of its architecture: a mix between a real museum space (here, the B√Ętiment d’Art Contemporain in Geneva) (1:1), a digital space based on the dimensions of its host (1:x) and a model of this game-like environment (1:50). MIX-m has the ability to re-locate itself into this existing exhibition environment, transforming, mixing and extending it into new territories. It offers therefore a variable environment to create art installations. These works, commissioned by MIX-m, can now define and modulate their presence inside an extended space spectrum: physical-digital, real-simulated, localized-networked.”

Read Moving the Museum Online on Rhizome, and join the discussion there or send me a Tweet (@mkasprzak) with your own suggestions of other virtual museum projects that exemplify either the lack in current physical museums (as muSIEum does), an additionality (as with the Guggenheim), or a hybrid space (MIX-m).

…also this came in from @eefski on Twitter: Oneindig Noord-Holland.

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Art & Culture My Projects

The Aesthetics of Gaming



The Aesthetics of Gaming

Pace Digital Gallery, 163 William St, New York City, USA (Directions)
February 10 – March 3 2009
Reception Feb 26, 5 – 7pm (5:00 pm lecture by Joe McKay / 6:00pm reception)
Featuring CuteXdoom II by Anita Fontaine and Mike Pelletier, and Avoid by Joe McKay
Guest curated by Michelle Kasprzak

Curatorial statement:
At the Interactive City summit in 2006, design guru Matt Jones conducted an informal poll that guests could respond to immediately using their mobile phones. The poll was a fragment of a question: Games or stories? This short but provocative query caused a low rumble of chatter within the group, and within minutes results began appearing, showing more or less a tie. What made the question stimulating was that the two are so intertwined, it can often be unclear where the story stops and the games begin. Can games live without even the roughest hint of a narrative, and can stories develop without an element of a game?

This exhibition presents two game environments that address both the intertwining of games and stories and the aesthetics of artist-created games. CuteXdoom II by Anita Fontaine and Mike Pelletier is a game modification that transforms Unreal Tournament 3 into a digi-Rococo experience. Players are tasked with the mission of piloting their poisoned character, Sally Sanrio, through a world that is simultaneously cute and sinister in search of the antidote. CuteXdoom II expands the narrative developed in the first instance of the project, wherein Sally Sanrio is drawn to the CuteXdoom cult, which centres around the notion that ‘the possession and worship of cute material objects will ultimately lead to happiness’.

The CuteXdoom series utilizes the aesthetics of kawaii (Japanese style of “cuteness”) and otaku (obsessive fan-based culture of anime and computer games), but these influences are ultimately just parts of the overall style that emerges under Fontaine’s direction. The incredible level of detail, striking color palettes, and repeated patterns and imagery are distinctly Fontaine’s and contribute to a delightful and dazzling game experience that is the aesthetic opposite of the formulaic graphics usually delivered via the Unreal Tournament platform. The CuteXdoom game aesthetic also responds to the story, using darker imagery to emphasize the main character’s altered state due to the consumption of the poison.

Joe McKay’s Avoid also breaks from the dominant aesthetic of commercial games, and utilizes a look that is beautiful in its minimalism. The premise of the game is to avoid the black dots, and to “eat” the colored dots, with the pace of the game dictating a high level of concentration from the player. The game was developed with Processing, which is described by its creators as “an electronic sketchbook for developing ideas.” Avoid, too, can be seen as a nearly-blank sketchbook upon which players can superimpose their own traces of narratives: clinging to life (when you only get one), consuming good, avoiding bad, acting in self-preservation. Though Avoid is, at its heart, a puzzle game much like widely-known games Tetris and Minesweeper, McKay’s statement about the game includes discussion of longevity, having only one life and making the most of that one life, which immediately lends a rule-based puzzle more of a human, narrative direction.

CuteXdoom II and Avoid present two distinct approaches, which are unified by their contributions to an evolving aesthetic of gaming. These two works mark a stage in the use of game platforms and structures by artists, which will see further evolution as technology advances, more game platforms develop or open up, and a notion of what games could be and could look like expands.

Version of this statement translated into Italian available here, thanks to digicult.it.

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Art & Culture

A one-liner about Cloaca

Cloaca, artist Wim Delvoye’s shit-generating installation, is now on view at the Galerie de l’UQAM in Montréal.

The video posted above depicts gourmet meals being lovingly fed to the machine. When Cloaca was installed in New York City in 2002, well-known restaurants such as Barolo, Jerry’s, MARKT, and Savoy produced meals for the machine that were presented during public feedings.

Years later, Cloaca is still doing the art-circuit, but its diet has apparently shifted. At the Galerie de l’UQAM, several local artists in Montreal prepared it a meal as part of a public event. For the rest of the duration of the show, rumour has it that the machine will be fed leftovers from the University’s cafeteria — which would give even a robot indigestion, I’m sure.