Critical Play Interfaces

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Playful Environments

Presentation Title:

  • Critical Play Interfaces

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Abstract:

  • Over the last decade, a significant number of contemporary media artists and net activists have adopted digital games to intervene and participate in mainstream media culture. Though artists have taken up the medium of videogames for a variety of purposes, in this paper I am specifically concerned with game art conceived and developed within a western tradition of critical creative production in which play is a means to engage and attempt to reconfigure the technical, formal and social in relation to the politics of everyday life.

    The overarching goal of this essay is to situate artistic gaming projects by contemporary artists and net activists within oppositional art-inspired practices. I explore the relationship between digital critical game art and the use of games and game concepts in developing a playful praxis by Situationists and related groups, such as Dada and Surrealism. I draw on a variety of projects by these groups, which range from urban design, collage art, and provocative performances in order to highlight key concepts and practices central to interventionist cultural production. Playful interfaces are central to the conceptualization and deployment of a variety of contemporary game art projects by artists and collectives, which include Wafaa Bilal, Anne Marie Schleiner, RTmark, and Critical Art Ensemble. I engage these projects in order to contextualize the effectiveness of play and critical gaming as tools for reflection and political activism today.

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