Homo Ludens Ludens, exploring videogame essence

Homo Ludens Ludens

Homo Ludens Ludens photo set

Videogame “buzz” alone (that has never stopped in the last five years) would have been a good reason to push the monumental Asturian institution “Laboral” (dealing with art, science and technology) to invest some resources in the field. But what they have done, under the inspiring resolute direction by the ex Arco director Rosina Gómez-Baeza Tinturé, is to develop a trilogy of exhibitions enriched with a full program of conferences, lectures and workshops. The impressive result is that a large slice of the intersections between art and videogames has been hosted in Gijon during the last year. “Gameworld” was the first, also one of the four different exhibitions hosted for the official Laboral opening. Curated by Carl Goodman (American Museum of the Moving Image), and Daphne Dragona, (Mediaterrae festival) it sported forty artists and game designers divided into three categories: “Digital Game Canon” (games historical milestones), “Games Recoded” and “Experimental Gameplay” (art and videogame), and “World/Game” (game representation and simulation). “Playware” was the second exhibition, defined as an “expansion pack” (the typical additional software that let you add new content and/or functionalities to the original game), and it was curated by Carl Goodman again and Gerfried Stocker (Ars Electronica artistic director). In the end, it really seemed like an expansion pack, focusing on the form and interface of game in a genuine aesthetic perspective. Last but definitively not least is the current “Homo Ludens Ludens“, curated by Erich Berger, Daphne Dragona (again) and Laura Baigorri. This final act seems to represent the summa of the discourse initiated one year ago. Trying to capture the uncatchable essence of playing in front of retro-illuminated screens, here the works compose an intricate composition of interface exploitation, virtual/real ambivalence, rules and preconception misuse, and scientific scrutiny of players behaviors. Visitors face different meaningful signals: the enthralling stratified levels of Ludic Society’s spatial conceptual game “Objects of Desire”, the hardcore emotional reverse engineered interface of France Cadet in her “SweetPad“, the weird identity playing of Molleindustria in “Faith Fighting” as well as Julian Olivers’ “levelHead”, VR conceptual space playing, or the no pain/no game “Constraint City” by Gordan Savicic, till the documentaries (or works that actually document the playing gestures, attitudes and contexts). The exhibition reflects the videogame attitude to embody a paradigm for the representation of reality dynamics and contemporary life at large. Artists work to implement the interaction factor in abstract simulations through perception limitations workaround. Their grammar has already started to become an esperanto for dealing with conflicts and relationships. The visitor’s gestures, sense mashup and coordination testing actively absorb the database of sense and engagements that constantly develops in the exhibition space.