Video games. It’s a subject I have tried to grapple with in the context of art for some time. And while I can’t deny that video games are a form of art, I have struggled with ways to pull the concepts of gaming towards my practice.
I want to, as I believe that when gaming is placed within the context of memory, it is prone to nostalgia and the trappings of being perceived at face vale. This, in turn, has a great deal of creative mileage as I seek to extend the experiences found within gaming into the physical world, enriching an audiences perception and engaging with the shared experiences a game has to offer in a way applicable to reality.
My current Pixel Poetry work seeks to isolate concepts found within certain games that are either hidden, abstract or even entirely speculative. The aim is to disrupt pre-conceived notions of games, for both players and non-players alike. I enjoy creating them, I believe they have a place within poetry and they seem to engage a certain audience. But what interests me further is the fact that gaming, as a subject, is increasingly set upon by artists as a means to instigate artistic practice. I saw with Far Lands – an open call exhibition I co-devised and co-curated – that gaming within the context of fine art exists and exists healthily. However, I wish to extend this notion and see how video games with art can be furthered. With that said, I present to you PLAY! – an open call invitation for artists at any stage or their career to submit work in a response to the theme of video games:
PLAY! is an open-call exhibition featuring artwork based on video games. The exhibition will be held at Access Space, Sheffield, from 3rd – 31st October 2014.
We (Myself and Sharon Mossbeck) are looking for submissions from artists whose work takes a critically engaged approach to computer games within a fine art context. Within such a broad theme, we are specifically looking for conceptually strong work which seeks to isolate aspects of gaming for suitable artistic reflection and contemplation.
We encourage artists to consider areas of gaming that can be considered for their artistic value: Glitches and beta games, for example, are distinguishable in their ability to reveal the hand of the individuals involved in creating the game. Whilst linear narratives and inaccessible areas create a tangible tension between gamer and desire to play and re-play. However, these are just examples of the conceptual mileage found within video games, and artists are invited to respond to the theme in any way they choose.
We are looking specifically for 2D and small 3D work, such as painting, photography, sculpture and printmaking. We may consider digital and video instillation work – but keep in mind that the space will only be able to accommodate one or two works of this nature.
Artists at any stage of their career are welcome to submit their work
How to apply
This open call invites submissions from artists working in 2D, though small 3D works may be considered. Your work should be ready to be wall mounted, and should exceed no more than 2 meters squared.
Artists may submit up to 3 pieces each.
All submissions should include:
– A description of your work, max 300 words
– Max 5 jpeg images of your work
– Artist statement (Or link to website)
Please email your submission, or any questions you may have, to firstname.lastname@example.org
Submission deadline: 8th September 2014
You will be notified by 15th September whether or not you have been successful. Applicants that are successful will be able to deliver their work to Access Space from 29th September – 3rd October.
…So there we have it. If you’re in any way inspired, intrigued or informed my video games, or the concepts found in video games. Please submit your work. I’d love to witness further ways in which artists have embraced video games in their practice.
Stains made from mugs are an accidental triumph of human intervention. No, they really are. Countless are the times where I have peered into a workstation – such as a set of desk spaces or a station overwhelmed by buttons and machinery – and been overjoyed by the sight of tea and coffee stains, or empty mugs and cups.
Why? Because I believe that a stain created by a mug penetrates the rhythm possessed by the banality found at such workstations. It sings from the surface and declares that life exists beyond structure and automaton. I would liken it to an analogue fist that smashes digital full in the face in order to make its presence felt.
Stains such as this reclaim human existence in the wake of rigid mechanics and schedule. They put a face to the faceless, a soul to the soulless. A stain like this should not be cleaned; it should be revered. It should be contemplated and it should be allowed to transcend its very being in order to be permanent and regarded in a qualitative way. Stains provide variance in sequence. They are a sting in a tail. They are a heart in a vessel. And most importantly, they provide a humane sense of relativity in a world seemingly bombarded with automated mechanics.
I seek to illuminate the innate joy found in discovering stains left by mugs. My work seeks to provide stains with a solidity that can be engaged with, quite opposite to the general disregard for such stains, which would otherwise be temporary and considered unwanted.
Thoughts towards physical connections
I am beginning to develop an affinity with the humble tomato sauce bottle. It is an affinity which I inexplicably feel reluctant to share, yet it provides me with many intriguing questions that demand exploration.
Imagine, if you will, a restaurant comprising of 64 square tables, 32 of them with white tablecloths and 32 of them with black tablecloths. A communal table exists for storing various condiments, including 32 bottles of the aforementioned tomato sauce.
So, 32 bottles exist, as do 64 squares: The same proportion of bottles to table as chess pieces to playing squares on a board. And yet the bottles are not restricted to rules. Each one has the same value, and can exist on any table. Indeed, more than one can exist at any one table, and none have to exist on tables at all. The amount of possible positions each bottle could take in relation to the others is almost overwhelming. We can even take this further and suggest that each bottle has the potential to be handled by countless individuals, who within the area of one table will be able to position the bottle differently time and time again.
It is a concept which almost teeters on the brink of infinity, without arriving there completely. It is a number which does exist, and so can readily be related to. But so massive is the number that it is only really appropriate to consider it in a qualitative way: The exact number does not matter because the process of imagining 32 sauce bottles being able to move freely between 64 tables whilst being handled by countless individuals provides one with this sense of enormity. It will be a number higher than the number of stars in the sky, yet astonishingly, it is the sky that is revered and seen as having some kind of majestic and spiritual prowess, not sauce bottles.
Can such concepts be rendered coherently in a visual way? Do they need to be? My post-university preoccupations were always intended to juxtapose the everyday and domestic nature of food with the universal and spiritual nature of the conceptual: And frankly, what better place to start than condiments against astronomical numeracy? Of course, this whole thing works with any bottle of sauce. But everyone loves a bit of the old tomato ketchup from time to time, don’t they?
Image – ‘Draft for Immeasurable Ketchup’ Pastel on Canvas
Returning to being out of education.
It’s October 2008, and armed with a few fine liner pens and a head full of scattered concepts; I decided to return to formal education. Although full bloodied in my desire to create, I became disillusioned with the processional nature of arts education during my B.A degree in Fine Art, which I completed in 2007. It became apparent that the art produced was only valuable if it ticked appropriate boxes. And so, possessed with a youthful sense of anarchy, I decided to compromise my grade in favour of work that I actually wanted to produce and vowed that education was detrimental to the liberation one can achieve through fine art practice.
So what better way to feel such liberation than by returning to the very thing that was found to be restricting less than a year later?! I will say that I did not return to full-time education and, initially, I did not return to Fine Art. I began a part time M.A in Animation. A subject I know nothing of past watching the occasional Pixar or Studio Ghibli work and thinking ‘oooh that’s pretty.’ It was begun simply out of curiosity. I was deterred by the prospect of fine art at this point due to past experiences, but I did want to incorporate fine art into the discipline of animation. I just thought it might be interesting – it’s as simple as that. I began a series of hurried sequences attempting to highlight the essence of food and how the process of eating food can evoke powerful spiritual sensations.
A good idea …in theory.
But good god, it was boring. Not aided by lectures, who seemed to rabidly scorn at the idea of an animation without a central character who, to them, would no doubt be an anthropomorphic dog, wearing a red bow tie and making wry observations from time to time whilst munching on a bone. Such was the limited scope of their innovations.
I remained however: Hunched over in a darkened room, lit only chemically by the odd computer screen and table lamp, and questioning once again my reasons for being involved in education. I was attempting some stop frame animation involving the process of eating food, but I’d much rather have been having my teeth removed slowly by a piss-stained tramp brandishing rusty pliers and a masonry drill. At least then I could have contemplated the juxtaposition of a man performing unnecessary and highly questionable dental surgery despite having no past experience and despite undoubtedly having dental problems of his own.
But as I remained, even still, one thing did dawn on me; how much I loved painting. I found that I could not adequately incorporate fine art into animation, and the removal of painting in favour of animation made me miss it, yearn for it. The end of my course saw me ask to return to a fine art education. This was an administrative procedure I fully expected to take months, but all the admin required was to take a biro, cross out the word ‘Animation’ and crudely scribble the words ‘Fine Art’ in it’s place. Almost laughably easy, but I wasn’t complaining, as finally I returned to a discipline I fully expect to stay with me for life.
The quality of my work improved beyond all recognition. Gone were my vain attempts to shoehorn my food-based delights into an animated sequence an in its place were large canvases, acrylic and attempts to turn food itself into a paint. That’s not to say I achieved a sense of comfort within the university – I felt my work was being conducted in spite of being within an institution, and indeed now I have completed my course I feel as though I am liberated, though crucially this time around, a little more informed with regard to my future.
And now I am here.
This website showcases and almost celebrates my return to painting, but nothing would have been achieved if it weren’t for initial toils with animation, so I do find myself curiously in debt to the discipline. Two pieces of work art currently on display in an exhibition at Glyndwr University – Regent Street campus: Upon viewing them in such a context, I find myself shrouded with an air of clarity. I certainly have no disillusionment with fine art anymore, and have attained a genuine passion for the notions and associations held within the concept of food.
The Glyndwr University M.A show is on for one more day – the 27th September