Archive for March, 2008

Retro Sabotage

March 31st, 2008 by Pippa

Have you ever wanted to play as the ghost in Pacman? Ever thought perhaps whilst playing Breakout that the entire screen might overbalance when you moved your paddle?  Well here is your chance to experience all the things you, maybe, probably had never thought of… Then check out Retro Sabotage

Games theorist Christian McCrea describes it as, "Reworked classic games to destroy original contexts or defy expectations, a bit of a coin-operated Negativland. Playing a reverse form of Breakout causes massive synaptic failure."

Don’t just look, play every single one, it’s guaranteed to change the way you think about classic games forever…

Both images are screenshots.

Live performance by Ismail Farouk and MT at “Push Play”

March 18th, 2008 by christo

Ismail Farouk at Push Play
Ismail Farouk in performance at "Push Play"

One of the less publicized  events at the the Johannesburg Art Fair was the "Push Play" exhibition at the Bag Factory in Fordsburg. The show, rather hastily curated by Rat Western featured single channel videos from a number of new Johannesburg artists.   Of the videos on exhibition, there is not a great deal to say, but Rat’s own contribution stood out due to her wry humour and unrelenting exploration of domestic pathos.  The real treat however was the live video and sound performance by Ismail Farouk and MT (Murray Turpin) that was held in a room at the back of the exhibition area. 

For anyone familiar with the trajectory of these two artists it was a revelatory collaboration. Ismail’s visual explorations of street life in Johannesburg, using time lapse animation and video filters, was dynamically matched to MT’s sound collages which fused urban sound recordings with abstract beats.   What really took their work into a new paradigm was that they fused installation art with the imperatives of live VJ and DJ performance.  Perhaps it was indicative of the distorted priorities that characterised the Johannesburg Art Fair, where the well-monied and expensively dressed buyers crowded into the Sandton Convention Centre; while the really exciting work at this performance  in Fordburg was witnessed by about 12 people.

MT performing with Ismail Farouk at "Push Play"
MT in performance on the audio decks at the "Push Play" opening at the Bag Factory

Projected screen from the "Push Play" performance
Ismail’s primary video projection which illuminated the angle between the wall and the
pressed steel ceiling of the back room at the Bag Factory in Fordsburg.

The full installation at the "Push Play" performance
A view of the full installation showing the main projection with the associated single-
channel video monitors positioned strategically around the performance space.

[All photographs by Chris Saunders]

Unyazi 2 – Fear of the Known – Panel Discussion

March 17th, 2008 by christo

Unyazi 2 Fear of the Known - Panel discussion

Nina Czegledy at Wits Digital Arts

March 13th, 2008 by christo

Nina Czegledy at Wits Digital Arts
photograph by Christo Doherty

Nina Czegledy speaking at a Digital Soiree at Wits Digital Arts.

The Charms of Wikipedia

March 11th, 2008 by christo

This blog has featured links to a number of articles about the phenomenal success of the online public encyclopedia, Wikipedia.  Recent revelations about the formative role of an inner elite of editors and the public tribulations of the site’s founder, Jimmy Wales  have forced users to take a more nuanced view of Wikipedia, but it is still the first destination for fact checking or finding out more about any topic that comes to mind.  Hence, the great pleasure of finding that Nicholson Baker has written about Wikipedia.  One of the great obsessives of contemporary American letters, Nicholson Baker devoted an entire book to the subject of a box of matches and taught himself golf in an unsuccessful attempt to emulate the writing style of  his great hero, John Updike.  There is simply no one better to mine the social complexities of Wikipedia and to understand the intensity of the battles between editors, vandals and polemicists.  Not surprisingly, Baker found himself drawn into becoming a contributor, starting with small edits on the "bovine somatropin" page and tinkering with the plot synopsis of Sleepless in Seattle.  Soon developing a full blown Wikipedia dependency, Baker ventured deeper into the project  by joining the battle between "inclusionists", who believe that applying strict editorial criteria will dampen contributors’ enthusiasm for the project, and "deletionists" who argue that Wikipedia should be more cautious and selective about its entries.  Naturally , Baker’s sympathies were with the "inclusionists"  and he found himself becoming one of those people who endeavour to save articles from deletion by zealous editors who tag them as "non-notable":

 I  found press citations and argued for keeping the Jitterbug telephone, a large-keyed cell phone with a soft earpiece for elder callers; and Vladimir Narbut, a minor Russian Acmeist poet whose second book, Halleluia, was confiscated by the police; and Sara Mednick, a San Diego neuroscientist and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life; and Pyro Boy, a minor celebrity who turns himself into a human firecracker on stage. I took up the cause of the Arifs, a Cyprio-Turkish crime family based in London (on LexisNexis I found that the Irish Daily Mirror called them "Britain’s No. 1 Crime Family"); and Card Football, a pokerlike football simulation game; and Paul Karason, a suspender-wearing guy whose face turned blue from drinking colloidal silver; and Jim Cara, a guitar restorer and modem-using music collaborationist who badly injured his head in a ski-flying competition; and writer Owen King, son of Stephen King; and Whitley Neill Gin, flavored with South African botanicals; and Whirled News Tonight, a Chicago improv troupe; and Michelle Leonard, a European songwriter, co-writer of a recent glam hit called "Love Songs (They Kill Me)."

Read the whole essay in the New York Times Book Review.  It’s a gem!