YBCA Presents Bang the Machine: Computer Gaming Art and Artifacts
SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 24, 2003) -- Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presents an interactive multimedia exhibition that explores the history and influence of computer game culture and the extraordinary relationship between interactive computer games and contemporary art. On view in our Galleries from January 17 through April 4, 2004, Bang the Machine: Computer Gaming Art and Artifacts is produced in partnership with the How They Got Game Project of the Stanford Humanities Laboratory, which will concurrently present the exhibit, Fictional Worlds, Virtual Experiences: Storytelling and Computer Games, at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University.
Bang the Machine: Computer Gaming Art and Artifacts explores a wide variety of subject areas, from the relationship between computer games and military simulations to contemporary features and cross-fertilization with artistic endeavors. The primary exhibition, entitled Game Scenes, will feature the U.S. Army’s computer game, America’s Army, developed by the MOVES Institute of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. America’s Army is a game designed by the military so that “young Americans could explore soldiering in the US Army” and “advance through progressive experiences ranging from basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., to Special Forces Assessment and Selection at Fort Bragg, N.C.” Guest curated by Henry Lowood, Curator for History of Science & Technology Collections at the Stanford University Libraries, the installation at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts will include artifacts simulating a battlefield environment like those in the game, created by Ignited Minds studio for the Electronic Entertainment Exposition. The CounterGaming areas of Game Scenes will present a wide range of game content and narrative media developed using game software. The exhibition will also feature a collection of machinima, animated movies made using game software. [an error occurred while processing this directive]Game Scenes will showcase the work of a wide variety of national and international artists whose works are heavily influenced by computer games and associated technology. The artists’ projects include:
n Katherine Isbister and Rainey Straus will construct a virtual recreation of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Galleries in the online gaming environment of The Sims Online. The Sims Online is an interactive online environment where players can recreate their lives, families, friends and life choices. Isbister and Strauss will recreate the look of The Sims Online environment in the physical space of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts complex. Visitors will be able to sit in the Galleries and access the game online, thereby occupying the virtual and physical space of the YBCA Galleries simultaneously.
n Janek Simon will create an interactive installation of the Carpet Invaders, which includes a floor projection of a videogame that simulates the early Space Invaders. The modular components of the videogame are made to resemble Afghani rug designs which reference weapons and warfare.
n Fur will present their interactive Painstation console, whose software is based on the early videogame, Pong. Players use their right hands to control a bat on screen, and must keep their left hand on the console’s “pain execution unit” to avoid ending the game. If a player’s bat misses a ball, his/her left hand suffers the consequences through the application of heat, electric shocks or a quick whipping.
n Jon Haddock will present a series of his Screenshots, drawings shown from an isometric perspective which draw on the visual vocabulary of computer games. Each drawing stages a socio-political event, (such as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel) used interchangeably with fictionalized events (such as the picnic scene from The Sound of Music).
n C-level will present Waco Resurrection, its first chapter of Endgames, a new 3D multiplayer computer game series based on alternative utopias and apocalyptic moments. In Waco Resurrection, each player enters the game as a David Koresh (wearing a real-life Koresh mask) and must defend the Branch Davidian compound against “internal intrigue, skeptical civilians, rival Koresh and the inexorable advance of government agents.”
n Italian artist Mauro Ceolin will present a series of portraits of videogame designers who have created the most inventive and original titles, and portraits of electronic musicians who sample old computer game music in their dance mixes.
n Acclaimed Bay Area graphic artist and graphic designer Amy Franceschini will create lemon-tree powered handheld games (such as Nintendo and Sony Playstation).
n Los Angeles-based artist Brody Condon will present 600 Polygon John Carmack, a 5-foot tall sculpture of legendary programmer John Carmack. The sculpture is not a portrait of Carmack, but a portrait of the low polygon game avatar of him that he developed for this game, Quake III.
n Acclaimed digital artists Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar, who have collaborated with artists such as Merce Cunningham and Bill T. Jones, will create a room-sized installation entitled Arrival.
n New York-based artist Paul Johnson and Korean-based artist Sunny Kim present Budaechigae, a collaborative videogame project (Budaechigae or “army soup” is a spicy dish popularized during the famine conditions of the 1950-53 Korean War). In this game, Kim and Johnson create individual videogame characters or avatars which function as self portraits. Although both artists have designed the appearance, role and behavior of their respective avatars in advance, the relationship between them will evolve over the course of the exhibition. Each character’s behavior has been created without consultation between the artists.
Game Commons, an exhibition “plug-in” developed by the online floating work-space, Kingdom of Piracy (
The exhibition will also feature Club Busta Buena, an interactive videogame created by the youth from YBCA’s education program, Young Artists at Work. Through the exploration of drawing human anatomy, character creation, sculpture, painting, computer generated three-dimensional modeling, texturing and animation, each student will create an original textured, animated character model for their 3-dimensional game utilizing Studio Max software. The videogame, with code written by Dierdre Dixon, will allow Gallery visitors to experience distinct club rooms where they can test their dance skills against the coolest dancers in virtual space. The music featured in Club Busta Buena is the Young Artists original work from The DJ Project, created over Summer 2003.
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