PLAY IS THE EXULTATION OF THE POSSIBLE [1] by LOUISE CLEMENTS

Game/Play relies on the creative participation of our audiences. Many of the works enable an intuitive, exploratory and open-ended engagement. This relationship is intended to enable our participants to act as contributors and catalysts in a dynamic creative process that we intend to be as accessible and fun as it is philosophical and theoretical. The works allow enterprise, dissolution of predictable rules and creative judgement – play – not united by a single political agenda but by an appreciation of complex relational
self directed choice.

Fluffy Tamagotchi by Paul Granjon re-purposes and re-animates seemingly obsolete machinery. Granjon’s aim is to embrace the opportunities made available by new technology while playfully subverting the familiar domestic arena of the techno toy. TAG by artists Low Brow Trash tests our understanding of the virtual/physical and digital interface. In a one on one with computer generated ‘real life’ scenes, the physical actions of participants activate the work and these are rewarded with responses in real-time via the screen. Characters within TAG respond to these interactions in an unnervingly realistic manner. It is through this process of exploration, predetermined choice and control that a new understanding of technology emerges. TAG provides a glimpse towards a future utopia where we can choose to play in a place where the edges are seamless, where the generator of the
image is hidden and where the image becomes the world.

In Game/Play we intend to allow participants to gain multiple perspectives on the creation of meaning within, the constructs and anarchy of structured and freeform engagement in a variety of works and environments. Artists group Ermajello have adapted their performance work – Plankton for Game/Play, which uses live music performance coupled with an intuitively responsive projection of a digital magical underworld, that reinstates a sense of awe within media art, akin to that of the works Samorost and Aquaplayne. Throughout the project we have created frameworks by which the roles of communication and participation are explored. A communication between participant and art-work, mortal with machine, at one moment directing the narrative, the next being directed by it, and in-between – when a mutually creative symbiosis occurs. Simon Poulter’s new work The Golden Shot revisited) offers an opportunity to question the processes of communication, morality and political accountability. In the work an anonymous (paintball) gunner is directed, by remote instruction via the Internet, to fire on command at a target bearing the names of infamous countries in the western news. In the role of participant or visitor to the gallery we are inexplicably drawn into the decision making process of a TV show style game of global war – would you go to war, would you pull the trigger – who is directing the show?

In 2005, Q Arts/QUAD, invited young people in Derby to contribute their ideas, towards the creation of a season of work for Q Arts. The response was overwhelmingly in favour of computer games and play. The consultation has since initiated an ongoing programme exploring what media art has to offer in engaging with new audiences.

As a consequence of the consultation, Q Arts’ media artists2 have been working with diverse groups and individuals – from disabled and excluded young people, emerging artists and refugees and artists in exile, to create artworks that reference computer games. Production workshops explored narrative, storyboards, examined and played with genres and created characters and content. In the process of devising the games participants reflected on the power and control relationships they were creating, the representation/dissolution of social constructs, gender, accessibility for the player and gaming aesthetics.

Games created by PRU, Q Club and other young people from Derby have both subverted and been inspired by classic arcade and contemporary games such as Pac Man, Worm, Space Invaders and others. Long Journey Home artists mixed Kurdish song with their own artworks to create an interactive interface examining the transience of dispersion, global community, identity and the practical impact of UK Home Office Policy.

Since 2005 Q Arts have taken diverse groups of people on a journey through playful and ‘interactive’ media art practice via participation, production and exhibition, Game/Play marks a further development in this ongoing project and we are proud to have had the opportunity to work with the curatorial team to achieve something larger than all the sum of our parts.

During Game/Play groups of young people in Q Arts Derby and HTTP Gallery London will meet each other on-line in VisitorsStudio to take part in live, networked art production workshops, becoming at once, participants, producers, performers, and audience. Other groups will be taking part in the season through related workshops. Much of the methodology of the project will inevitably remain hidden and even the language we use to describe it cannot fully express the creativity, conflict and meeting of minds that occurs with a live partnership process, however, we trust that the material of the project will reflect its strength and communicate the depth of our engagement with it.

References
1 Buber, M. (1878-1965) - philosopher, story teller, pedagogue
2 Q Arts artists Darius Powell, Martin Sommerville, Sophie Powell
and Angela Terris worked with Long Journey Home, Newtons Walk
Pupil Referral Unit, Q Club and young people in Derby from 2005 - 2006