The exhibition, Of Games: Frameworks in Question, juxtaposed art with games and gaming technologies including the old board games of India like Ganjifas, Parallel by Harun Farocki, and video games like Osmos and Otomata. The selected works captured image-making processes explored in both games and art, and highlighted the centrality of audience-engagement in gaming. An interrogation of the cross-pollination between games and arts was the underlying theme of the exhibition.
Works on view:
Façade, Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern, 2005
With the Facade project the promise of algorithmic storytelling was demonstrated for the first time at such a scale. Algorithmic storytelling is the art of telling a story which is not scripted yet. The author or the developers in this case develop the individual characters and their mechanisms of response and parlance but nothing more. In run-time it actually seems like the characters have a mind of their own, but they are always responding within the parameters of their programmed nature. This idea is a very strong meme in games (procedural narratives etc) and in the futuristic visions and ideas for storytelling.
Osmos, Hemisphere Games, 2010
Osmos is a simulation of a physics-based world in which there is complexity at play. The fact that you can experience the game in either slow time or fast, that it has spaces for wandering and that the game-designers actually talk about the ‘calming’ effect of playing the game with headphones all contribute to making this game unique. It is a good representative of the physics-based games that have been released in the last five years, because it is easily the most elegant and esoteric environment which offers a very misty storyline. I am thinking of Osmos as actually representing the contemporary game with a unusual setting: the game interface is entirely gesture-based.
Otomata, Batuhan Bozkurt, 2011
Otomata is a musical instrument that makes music from the chaotic and generative result of a series of accidents running in a loop. It became very popular as a music-making tool for amateurs and is a good representative of games which become sandboxed simulation spaces for accidents and use casual actions to create something expressive. Soundcloud is full of soundtracks created and recorded from Otomata and for some musicians it actually becomes a useful instrument. Through this game, I am able to talk about the ability of games to become surrogate interfaces for production.
Ganjifa card set (natural colours on vasli base coated with lac) from Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, acquired in 1962
Ganjifa is a card game that originated in Persia in the 16th century. The name Ganjifa comes from the Persian word ganjifeh meaning playing cards. They can be lavish sets made of precious stone-inlaid ivory or tortoise shell, or cheaper sets made from materials such as wood, palm leaf, or pasteboard.
Traditionally, Ganjifa cards are circular and hand-made by local artisans. The suits are composed of twelve subjects on coloured backgrounds, with pip cards running from 1 to 10, and two court cards, one of a minister or councillor, the other of a king. The precise style and arrangement of the decoration on any set is dependent on its artist. The designs of the cards of Dashavatara Ganjifa use motifs from the ten avatars of Vishnu.
Pallankuzhi, brass and copper, from South India (year of acquisition 1969)
Pallankuzhi is a traditional mancala game played in South India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The game is played by two players, with a wooden board that has fourteen pits in all; hence the name is derived from the words for fourteen pits (pathinaalam kuzhi). There have been several variations in the layout of the pits, one among them being seven pits on each player’s side. The pits contain cowry shells, seeds, or small pebbles used as counters.
Parallel, Harun Farocki, 2012, 2-channel video, 17 mins., colour
For over one hundred years photography and film were the leading media. From the start they served not only to inform and entertain but were also media of scientific research and documentation. That is also why these reproduction techniques were associated with the notions of objectivity and contemporaneity – whereas images created by drawing and painting indicated subjectivity and the transrational. Apparently today computer animation is taking the lead.
Our subject is the development and creation of digital animation. If, for example, a forest has to be covered in foliage, the basic genetic growth program will be applied, so that “trees with fresh foliage”, “a forest in which some trees bear 4 week-old foliage, others 6 week-old foliage” can be created. The more generative algorithms are used, the more the image detaches itself from the appearance as found and becomes an ideal-typical. Using the example of trees and bushes, water, fire and clouds we compare the development of surfaces and colourings over the past thirty years in computer animation images. We want to document reality-effects such as reflections, clouds, and smoke in their evolutionary history.
– Harun Farocki
Traditional games from the collection of Crafts Museum, New Delhi.
The work Parallel supported by Max Mueller Bhawan/Goethe Institute, New Delhi.