Can You See Me Now? –Tokyo and Cambridge
Can You See Me Now? is a chase game played live online and on the streets. Online Players try to outrunmembers of Blast Theory who are running through the real city streets equipped with handheld computers and tracked by satellites.
In Tokyo, Can You See Me Now? computer terminals are housed in both ICC and the department store PARCOwhich is situated in a fashionable building complex with boutiques, restaurants and theatres located in the highenergy district of Shibuya. The Blast Theory runners will be giving chase amongst the designer shoppers andcafe hangouts.
What more can someone do inside a MMORPG (massive multi-player online role-playing game) than just play the game? From the empyre networked discussion list amidst a very long and interesting correspondence on gaming came this question:
“Does anyone know if there are any examples of art events/pieces happening inside these semi-public environments? Has anyone ever done a performance inside Everquest for example?”
Which produced various replies from friends – the quake episode, where an entire episode of the truely aweful sit-com was reinacted inside an online quake arena…
Is Quake Friends a brilliant critique of the Buddhist nature of online gaming, where all the world’s a stage, and the players get reincarnated continuously to serve their place on the great wheel of life? Or is DeLappe the laziest performance artist in history? Can valid art exist in an online gaming server? What next: UT2k3 Touched By An Angel?
A one night parade of sweat and adrenaline hopes to reclaim performance art in the age of video games, pitting viewer against viewer in brutal virtual cockfighting theater. Audience volunteers suited up in custom-made wireless game controllers with full sized wings and feathered helmets. Combatants stepped into an arena to control their life size game avatars through vigorous flapping and pecking, competing for blood and birdfeed while rapaciously inflicting onscreen bodily harm in a custom made “joustlike” fighting game.
So, it got me thinking about the project I’m doing at Taipei Artist Village, and suddenly the idea of staging Swan Lake in its entirety inside one of the games I spend way too many hours playing seemed like a good idea.
Australia Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) have just published their new magazine, Filter covering art, science and technology in Australia and around the world, and engaging in critical debate on the current issues in this field.
The first issue comes on the heels of the Adelaide Fringe Festival where Blast Theory (UK) premiered their game/performance I Like Frank, a mixed-reality game covering the streets of Adelaide and linked to the internet via 3G mobile phones.
Adelaide was now to become the place where i last saw Frank; it was 4am, warm and the sky was still dark. There was a nightclub that wouldn’t let us in – Frank said he enjoyed the freedom of being turned away. He would request Joy Division songs of late night buskers. Frank said “There is an escape route to every situation”, and to some of the public who experience the game, perhaps he was right.
Frank became real and as he did, so did the experiences he had, which resulted in believable gaming structures for willing players.
In addition to the game, Blast Theory also ran a masterclass dealing with gaming, performance and art realms.
The afternoon of day one was spent individually walking around the neighborhood creating our own indicators, game rules, and plans that lead us in different directions, whether it be following the color red, cigarette butts on the ground or climbing fences with ‘no entry’ or security warnings on them. We discussed the rewards of gameplay, the intricacies within the boundaries, decisions of whether to walk through someone’s private space or not. We spent the next two days collaboratively creating experiential game/performance/clue trail environments for everyone to devour.
Using new technology, wireless applications and hardware, and an internet or computer-based interaction with the real world to allow multiple levels on engagement with the game/performance environment, founding member of Blast Theory Matt Adams said of the new medium of mixed-reality and games:
Our assumption is that games are going to be the art form of the 21st century, that they are in the same position now that cinema was in in 1904 maybe… We’re then saying, ‘Can we try and expand the language of games, can we try and create a deeper and more subtle set of codes to operate in game play?