Thank you Sarah and good morning everyone, many thanks for agreeing to take part in the discussion. This is a great group and I'm looking forward to the insights that you'll all be able to contribute.
Tomorrow sees the second workshop in a series of 4 that constitute the Video Games in the Museum project. This workshop focusses on design practice in games development and aims to get under the hood of the development process to expose and disaggregate some of the creative practices that contribute to games development and begin to locate these practices within creative traditions. Looking through the lens of the V&A museum we are interrogating whether creative design practice in games development fits within art, design and craft traditions or, more interestingly perhaps, where games development varies from these traditions and has established new practices that are specific to the medium and what is characteristic or deterministic about the relationship between the maker (artists), the material (software) and the user (player).
These are questions that can be asked of any medium and are fundamental to the curation and exhibition of any artefact. In the case of video games design it is the virtual nature of the designed artefact, and the simulated nature of the functional interface between the artefact and the player that is particularly fascinating and I suspect will be definitive of the deviation from material design traditions.
The overarching context of this discussion reflects the V&A's approach to understanding and exhibiting design. Presenting designed objects in order to expose the process and in turn, the social and historical context of its 'use', is characteristic of this approach. One of the major concerns of the project is how to deconstruct and reconstruct design practice in games to achieve this effect. The questions below are aimed at catalysing some discussions around these curatorial challenges and I hope that tomorrow's workshop discussions will contribute to this one.
You can keep up with the project events on the rather slower paced project blog at www.videogamesinthemuseum.net
I'm excited to see this discussion unfold and look forward to your contributions.
School of Arts, Media & Computer Games
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Subject: NEW-MEDIA-CURATING Digest - 5 Aug 2014 to 6 Aug 2014 (#2014-128)
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Topics of the day:
1. August 2014 Theme: Video Games in the Museum
Date: Wed, 6 Aug 2014 14:50:23 +0000
From: Sarah Cook <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: August 2014 Theme: Video Games in the Museum
Welcome to August's theme: "Video Games in the Museum"
This month's theme is guest-hosted by Gregor White and is tied to his AHRC research network project "Video Games in the Museum", investigating curatorial and interpretative approaches to understanding video games as designed objects and games development as a design process. Exhibitions such as Game On (2002) and The Art of Video Games (2012) have taken huge strides in locating the position of video games as a popular medium and cultural form. Recognising chronological and arcade styles of exhibition, and the existing extensive and well developed archival work in this field (such as the games collection at Museum of Modern Art NYC and The International Center for the History of Electronic Games in Rochester NY), this project seeks to find ways to expose the practice and process of design in the creation of video games.
While the CRUMB list has previously addressed locative media and gaming, and the exhibition/presentation of interactive forms of art in museums and galleries (and festivals!), we've not tackled the topic of video games in the museum before, so we welcome this opportunity to give the question some critical attention, with your help.
"Video Games in the Museum" is a partnership between Abertay University and the V&A Museum. The V&A has been collecting computer generated art since the 1960s and from 2005, saw an increase in digital art and design on the public programme. Since January 2013, the V&A has been collecting digital design and is now working towards an exhibition on videogames curated by Louise Shannon and Alex Wiltshire, opening in July 2017.
Curating design is a challenge when the 'artefact' of the design process, as in the case of video games, is simultaneously representation and manifestation; it is ephemeral but lays claim to a lineage of physical presence and human experience.
The creation of worlds in video games means giving consideration to the design, integration and implementation of every object and item in the environment; from skyscrapers to barrels, fashion to transport systems. Much of the challenge of designing games artefacts is to maintain the authenticity of the objects so that players intuitively understand their functionality and modes of interaction. Videogames offer the chance to design and create objects that are not constrained by real world physical or technological limitations. But then how are those objects and artefacts curated into the museum or the exhibition?
Game designers operate in a hybrid space, striking a balance between the real and the unreal and function and fantasy. To present this view of design in the museum context, is it possible to penetrate the screen and disaggregate the components of the game in order to expose the creative practices?
This process would seem to demand an analytical approach to the analysis of games _and_ of process, giving rise to a number of questions around the curatorial approach, collectable artefacts and exhibition format. We invite participants to contribute to this discussion with the following questions:
* If video games can be conceived as discreet worlds and contain inhabitants, communities and societies how do we begin to understand the nature of the designed objects within them? Can we bring traditional analytical/critical approaches to bear using rational methods associated with product design/engineering? Or can we take a broader aesthetic appreciation that values the creativity of the designer?
* However, if video games are conceived as 'sets' designed to accommodate narrative, interaction and play, should critical analysis of function and aesthetics be curatorially located within the overall intent of the designer (the idea of the single artist/author, as museums sometimes prefer) or distributed across the development team (how do you curate collaboratively created outputs)?
* How can exhibition forms exhibit the art and craft of games design? Can the assembly of art and code be conceived and displayed as the material of the designer?
We have a super list of respondents who have been invited to chime in, from a wide variety of positions (including different areas of academia, the museum sector, artists, and the video game industry) - the list below is just a start, with more sure to join from Friday, but please feel free to introduce yourself as we move forward.
Gregor White - School of Arts, Media & Computer Games, Abertay University William Huber - School of Arts, Media & Computer Games, Abertay University Chris Lowthorpe - PhD researcher, Abertay University Caroline Pelletier - Researches educational uses for games and simulations, Institute of Education Marie-Claire Isaaman - Course Leader, Games Art and Design, University of Norwich Graeme Kirkpatrick - sociology, game studies, aesthetic theory, Manchester University Diane Carr - Senior Lecturer Media and Cultural Studies, Institute of Education Allison Gazzard - lecturer in Media Arts, Institute of Education Jesper Juul - Danish Academy of the Arts Louise Shannon - Curator of Digital, V&A Museum Ben Fino Radin - Digital Repository Manager, MoMA Clive Gillman - artist and Director, Dundee Contemporary Arts Simon Meek - Creative Director, The Secret Experiment Adam Russell - artist, developer, BAFTA games juror Mary Flanagan - artist, writer, inventor
Dr. Sarah Cook
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design University of Dundee
Visual Research Centre (VRC)
Dundee Contemporary Arts
Dundee DD1 4DY
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The University of Dundee is a registered Scottish Charity, No: SC015096
End of NEW-MEDIA-CURATING Digest - 5 Aug 2014 to 6 Aug 2014 (#2014-128)
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