Whose Reality Is It Anyway?
Friday, 30 November, 2012

Finally started making some more progress on Art Game over the last couple of days, which has been a huge relief and managing to dodge it for so long. I now have the basics of the “art forms” the game involves implemented, and the all-important transition from making an artwork to the gallery space. Frankly, there’s been a really weird amount of ontology going on with this game, which has been equal parts fascinating and frustration.

So the basic premise is that you play as an artist who makes art with a classic digital game, let’s say that you make sculptures out of Tetris for now. All kinds of decisions have to be made about the “reality” of Tetris in the world of Art Game. Shit gets complex. In the end, for instance, I decided that the game world has no acknowledgment at all of the idea that you’re ever “playing a game” to make a sculpture – that interface is literally just thought of/presented as “sculpting”. This is what caused all the difficulty with trying to incorporate Spacewar! into the world of the game – how do you try to pretend that spaceships flying around and firing missiles is somehow tied to the game’s internal reality? Spaceship costumes.

But there are all kinds of other questions obviously. What are the Tetris pieces made of? (I sometimes wonder whether the whole game partly came out of these amazing “photos” of “real” digital game pieces.) Should they all be different colours/shades? Well, hmmm. In the end I decided they’re made of just one material, all the same colour, as it seemed to yield the most interesting sculptural forms. But these are decisions that had to be made.

The most recent issue to come up has been trying to “remediate” Spacewar! playings into the gallery space of the game as projections on the walls. It was all roughly okay until I realised that the missiles being fired were too small given the resolution of the reality of the gallery. Even though it mostly looked okay, that breaking of resolution completely spoiled the effect. So I’m currently working on what it means to watch a video projection of a game played at one resolution but displayed at another, such that you maintain the spirit of the performance artwork it represents.

In other words, life is sweet.

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