digitalPunk - jonCates (2010)
Eduardo Navas: You explain that you see gaming culture to be in some ways parallel to the early punk rock scene. In this sense, now that gaming has grown exponentially, how would you say it is redefining the mainstream and how people relate to media?
jonCates: A: the question refers to a few posts initiated by Jesper Juul (http://www.jesperjuul.net/ludologist/?p=472), myself (http://joncates.blogspot.com/2008/08/i-h43-wow.html) and Michael Liebe (http://amaze-festival.de/2008/08/12/punk-games/). Juul asserted that‚ Indie video games are like punk rock, short, low production costs, wrestling our art from the claws of big corporations. I responded to that as well as other parts of his position by adding that we should take a critical approach to Art Games. I made a claim that these Art Games could be understood as Media Art Historical references to a 1970’s punk refusal of the bourgeois values, decadence, scale, supposed grandeur + escapism of 197o’s psychedilic, symphonic, prog and/or stadium rock. Liebe replied to that by pointing out that the filtering of violent mainstream games through contemporary bourgeois in the specific form of German legislation around depictions of violence in video games adds another layer to this set of concerns. So that is the context (note that these hyperthreads are all available online). But your question is on how gaming is redefining the mainstream (media?) and how we relate to media. In attempting some answers to your questions, I will constrain myself to discussing Art Games in specific rather than gaming in general. This semester I am teaching a new course called Art Game Studies (http://artgames.ning.com). I have introduced this course as a new Media Art Histories course which is both an overview of Art Games as well as introduction to the theories and discourses of Game Studies. In the class lectures I am establishing a framework or basis on which to discuss Art Games. I am careful to state that the distinctions between what constitutes a division between 'mainstream gaming' + Art Games is a fairly porous technosocial material. Many artists, such as Tale of Tales (http://tale-of-tales.com), take strong, even dogmatic, positions on these distinctions. I prefer to recognize fluidity between these distinctions while advocating for the considered + critical use of frameworks, i.e. taxonomies, for understanding the field.
In my thinking/feeling on the subject, Art Games are a subset of Artware (or Software Art) which itself is a subset of New Media Art. I will use the term New Media Art, as it is used in the field by authors such Michael Rush, Mark Tribe or Reena Jana. I am also using the phrase "New Media Art" as we use it in the Film, Video & New Media Department where I teach and have developed the New Media curriculum. When we use the phrase New Media we refer to time, screen and code based Digital Art that is connected to the histories, theory/practices of Media Art, i.e. Film and Video Art. We are primarily concerned with experimental Media Art + we see New Media Art in relation to all other forms of experimental Media Art such as Film, Video, Animation, Installation, Art Games, Machinima, Realtime Audio Video, Web Art, Software Art + Free & Open Source Software. I also take this perspective from two of my own professors, Lev Manovich (http://manovich.net) + Sean Cubitt (http://www.culture-communication.unimelb.edu.au/people/sean-cubitt.html). For Cubitt and Manovich Video Art and New Media Art are (respectively) both hybrid categories of creative cultural work, meshworks of interconnections that are socially situated technological forms. I am similarly motivated to understand Art Games in this manner.
Another important aspect here is potential crossover between markets and industries. I appreciate the position taken by Janine Fron, Ellen Sandor on art when they wrote that "While the arts community continues to explore games as art, and artistic statements may emerge from game players, it is important to acknowledge that there are fundamental “differences between both industries." This statement expresses both arts communities and game cultures as 'industries'. This underscores that neither Art, nor Gaming, can or should be thought of as categorically separable from market economies. Interconnections and resulting impacts of economies of cultural industries such as Art and Games are especially relevant when considering the cultural critiques and critical theory of the Frankfurt School, the Situationists, anti-global capitalist movements and the ways in which those positions have influenced theoretical fields and academic disciplines such as Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Software Studies and Game Studies.
When we discuss mass entertainment media now (in the United States at least), we are discussing Gaming because games are the major form of mass entertainment media. As such, Gaming casts a long shadow over any artists working with games as a material or as a medium. Julian Oliver (http://julianoliver.com) has written on the ways that Art Games, Art Mods and artistic uses of the game as a medium are of course directly indebted to the possibilities provided by (in many cases) commercial game engines which have been developed by corporations as mass entertainment products/services. Oliver references the metaphoric saying of 'standing on the shoulders of giants' to explore the relationships involved for those working between or through the industries of art and gaming. Prior to this, Anne-Marie Schleiner (http://www.opensorcery.net) established the vocabulary of 'parasitic interventions' to describe this relationship in 1999. As Schleiner wrote if we are "in symbiotic or parasitic relations to the host technocultural systems of the industrial game engine and online game fan networks, an art form whose tentacles reach outward into the fabric of technocultural subdomains with the capacity for effecting the evolution of popular gaming culture." Deep forms of feedback plus feed-forward form in these moments such that these industries inform as well as influence each other in myraid unchartable ways, simultaneously direct and indirect, the dataflows (themselves socio-economic and technosocial) leak through porous boundaries between the industries of Art and Gaming. The case of Electro Plankton by Toshio Iwaii is a strong example of work which is known and recognized as Media Art as well as being clearly located as mass marketed mainstream entertainment media. Indy Games are also in both worlds simultaneously. Projects by Eddo Stern (http://www.eddostern.com) such as Darkgame (http://www.eddostern.com/darkgame/index.html) seeks to crisscross and crosswire simple distinctions as well. So, it is a complex and interwoven situation but certainly mutually interdependent.
jonCates interview (for Riksutstallningar) - Eduardo Navas (2010)
Monday, August 11, 2008
i H4+3 WoW!
Jesper Juul writes in his "Ludologist blog entry Indie Games (like Braid) are Punk Rock" that we should rly wear “I hate World of Warcraft” t-shirts to exxxpress an anti-commercial digitalPunk approach to indy gaming + (i would add) a critical approach to Art Games, as a hystorical reference to a 1970's punk refusal of the bourgeois values, decadence, scale, supposed grandeur + escapism of 1970's psychedilic, symphonic, prog +/or stadium rock. this hystorical reference is specifically to Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols wearing a handMade/defaced "I Hate Pink Floyd" t-shirt... this is the fast, cheap + small scale commitment to "dirty new media art" that we are also attempting to articulate in various projects such as jake elliott's "Dirty New Media" presentation @ the most recent (+ perhaps last) HOPE (Hackers On Planet Earth) conference, our collaborative projects such as 4RtcR4x0Rz + our open, ongoing + decentralized organization of (A) r4WB1t5 micro.Fest
(A) DIGITAL PUNK APPROACH TO NEW MEDIA ART - jonCates (2007)
jonCates presents (A) DIGITAL PUNK APPROACH TO NEW MEDIA ART, a public presentation as a part of a Faculty Contract and Penultimate Tenure Review process. If a punk show can be organized with zines, xerox fliers and inexpensive instruments in improvised settings and contexts (such as bedrooms, basements and bars) then how can we digitize or translate those approaches into freely accessible codebases, digital applications, programming languages, online networks or computer operating systems? How could a digital punk approach distribution systems, following similar paths to those that have been created and distributed under the punk ethics of intimacy, immediacy and improvisation? Can we open source New Media Art and Media Art Hystories? In this public presentation on his recent work and his approach to New Media Art theorypractices and education, jonCates will ask these questions and attempt to negotiate with what the phrase “digital punk” might mean
(A) DIGITAL PUNK APPROACH TO NEW MEDIA ART
4:30 PM WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 17 2007
1307 MACLEAN CENTER - 112 SOUTH MICHIGAN - CHICAGO ILLINOIS
PUBLIC PRESENTATION - FACULTY CONTRACT AND PEN-ULTIMATE TENURE REVIEW
FILM, VIDEO & NEW MEDIA DEPARTMENT AT THE SCHOOL OF THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
If a punk show can be organized with zines, xerox fliers and inexpensive instruments in improvised settings and contexts (such as bedrooms, basements and bars) then how can we digitize or translate those approaches into freely accessible codebases, digital applications, programming languages, online networks or computer operating systems?
How could a digital punk approach distribution systems, following similar paths to those that have been created and distributed under the punk ethics of intimacy, immediacy and improvisation?
Can we open source New Media Art and Media Art Hystories?
In this public presentation on his recent work and his approach to New Media Art theorypractices and education, jonCates will ask these questions and attempt to negotiate with what the phrase “digital punk” might mean.
jonCates, Assistant Professor in the Film, Video and New Media department at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, develops the curriculum for and teaches in the New Media path of study. jonCates's individual and collaborative projects have been screened, exhibited and/or performed at various festivals, exhibitions and events including: Interactivos at the Madrid Media Lab (Madrid, Spain); The MusicAcoustica 2006 Festival (Beijing, China); ISEA2006 (San Jose, United States); The Zacheta National Gallery of Art (Warsaw, Poland); The Academy of Fine Arts (Vienna, Austria); The Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, United States); South by South West (Austin, Texas) and The Boston Cyber Arts Festival (Boston, United States). His individual and collaborative projects are also widely available online through various online exhibitions, networks and platforms including Low-Fi and Netbehaviour (London, United Kingdom); empyre (New South Wales, Australia); Rhizome.org (New York City, New York) and Turbulence (Boston, United States).
jonCates also organizes and curates New Media events including the ongoing r4WB1t5 ("raw bits") micro festivals (2005 – present); the FRAY New Media series and conference (2006); Version (2002 - 2004) and Game-Video (2003). often invited to present at various international conferences, jonCates has recently participated in the OPENPORT Conference (Chicago, United States); Hack the Knowledge Lab at Lancaster University (Lancaster, United Kingdom); The Warsaw Electronic Arts Festival (Warsaw Poland); Share Share Widely: A Conference on New Media Education at New York University (New York City, New York); Read_me 2004 Software Art Festival (Aarhus, Denmark); ISEA2004 (Helsinki, Finland); Computer Art and Design in Education at the Slade School of Art and Design (Glasgow, United Kingdom) and ISEA98 at Manchester Metropolitan University (Manchester, United Kingdom).