Virtual/Interactive Reality

The Outlands (2011)

Artists David Haines and Joyce Hinterding’s  recent work with game technologies have produced the large scale immersive works “Monocline, white cube/Monocline, black boxes” and “The Outlands” a 2011 work that won the Anne Landa Award for video and new media arts. These works invite visitors to take control and conduct their own voyage through digital and sonic environments of, forests, islands and futuristic interiors. Whilst employing common video game features such as an ‘unreal game engine’ and controls the works neglect popular video game foundations and narratives such as missions, assassinations and character generation, instead offering a scenic outer world experience through their virtual environments.

David and Joyce’s ‘the outlands 2011’ work, which projected a real-time three dimensional environment moreover became an engaging medium for Hinterding to exhibit her artistic skills in sculpture, object arts, sound art and digital arts through the games four levels, exploring a series of imaginary landscapes through customized control sticks. The artists purposeful deterrence from the typical ‘pursuit and kill’ game plan featured in most games, sought to install the status of a dream like state with the artists focusing on the “beauty and contemplation” that a digital world can provide.

SOD (1999)

The playable work  “SOD” (1999), produced by Jodi and renowned for achieving technical breakthroughs for ‘id software’  through creating three-dimensional spaces on PCs, depicts the byproduct of her rendition of the game “Quake”. Jodi’s removal of all textures and objective details through ‘id Software’, limited the graphics to abstract symbols reducing the original game to a black and white landscape which vaguely illustrates what is being hunted or blocked. Nazi characters are reduced to black triangles and are solely identified by speech, whilst perspectives of walls are categorised by rectangles. For Jodi, the manipulation of the graphical interface was not enough becoming intrigued by the non-visual aspects of software such as  the user’s guide and the “game physics” which Jodi changed to the point of being almost completely unusable for the game, an approach that artists like Tom Betts and Joan Leandre similarly used as a starting point in their work.

Blast Theory – I’d Hide You

Blast Theory is an art group that’s been working together since the 90s. They created an online game called I’d Hide You with a genre defying twist; instead of immersing the viewer into the virtual world, it provides a looking glass into the real world. Players of the game are allowed to join one of three players as they play hide and seek, trying to find each other, players win by snapping screenshots of other players if they see them. The player is then allowed to view from the camera of the runner he joins, given the option to ask them questions, tell them to do things and reveal their location.

What we see here is an interesting cycle of real life going into the virtual and back into real life through the virtual. It is an appropriation of gaming culture integrated into real life, as Thomas Appearley addresses in his article ‘From the Cybercafe to the Street’. I’d Hide You interacts with people in a unique way by connecting them with other people and immersing them into the world and environment of someone else. This interconnection creates a sort of experiential empathy that shows the power of virtual reality as an art form of new media in not only helping the audience interact with the art but enabling them to interact with other people and environments over great distances.

References

Quarenda, D, ‘Art and Video Games: Enclosures and Border Crossings,’ In Your Computer, page 117

Baumgaertel, T, Modification, Abstraction, Socialization. On Some Aspects of Artistic Computer Games

Apperley, T, Gaming rhythms: Play and counterplay from the situated to the global (Institute of Network Cultures: Amsterdam, 2010)

Apperley, T, Leorke D, 2013, ‘From the cybercafé to the street: The right to play in the city’, First Monday, vol. 18, no. 11.

 

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