From Play­ful Strate­gies to Playa­bil­ity

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Playing the non-playful: On the critical potential of play at the overlap of videogames and electronic art

Presentation Title:

  • From Play­ful Strate­gies to Playa­bil­ity

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • Panel: Playing the non-playful: On the critical potential of play at the overlap of videogames and electronic art

    The tech­no­log­i­cal make-up and in­ter­face con­ven­tions of many elec­tronic art­works in­vite con­fig­u­ra­tive au­di­ence prac­tices which re­sem­ble those we are fa­mil­iar with from the con­text of com­puter game play. Thus it is not sur­pris­ing that some con­tem­po­rary crit­ics have seen it nec­es­sary to be con­cerned about the as­so­ci­a­tions be­tween play and media art. Pre­vi­ously at ISEA2008, Daniel Palmer in The Crit­i­cal Am­biva­lence of Play in Media Art, con­cerned with media art’s “as­so­ci­a­tion with en­ter­tain­ment spec­ta­cle” sug­gested that if “media art as­pires to be taken se­ri­ously by the broader con­tem­po­rary art world, the links be­tween media art, chil­dren and mass cul­ture are fatal.” In this pre­sen­ta­tion I seek to clar­ify the ori­gins of the link­age per­ceived by Palmer, by recon­cep­tu­al­is­ing the play-com­po­nent ev­i­dent in new media art through de­scrib­ing it si­mul­ta­ne­ously as a styl­is­tic strat­egy, play­ful­ness, with its roots deep in art his­tory, and as a tech­no­log­i­cal af­for­dance, playa­bil­ity, invit­ing a unique kind of en­gage­ment best con­cep­tu­al­ized through ex­is­ten­tial­ist terms of free­dom and re­spon­si­bil­ity. Rec­og­niz­ing play­ful­ness and playa­bil­ity as sep­a­rate char­ac­ter­is­tics, I ob­serve that their co­ex­is­tence in new media art is ac­ci­den­tal rather than es­sen­tial, and there is room for a va­ri­ety of artis­tic strate­gies for ne­go­ti­at­ing their in­ter­re­la­tions.

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