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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