Imaginarium of Tourcoing – 6 march to 13 july 2013

I was invited by Annick Rivoire (editorial manager) and Pierre Giner (art director) to give an interview about “politics and video games” and asked to propose a selection of artworks for the exhibition “Play again”.

Presentation (in french)

“Past – present – future
This exhibition offers at the same time a historic perspective of video game (historical game consoles and accessories, cult video games to play, interview of pioneers in the industry), a look at the present (recent games to play, increase and dematerialisation of the medias, serious gaming…) and a forward looking perspective (gamification, new typologies of games). From the Magnavox Odyssey of 1972 (first video game console) to the Nintendo Wii U (2012), forty years of games and technology exhibit themselves, with rares objects (the MB VETREX of 1982) and safe bets (Amiga) : more than 50 objects to discover.”


For this exhibition I proposed a selection of political games, machinimas and videos :

Unmanned, Molle Industria

“Typical of any Molleindustria game, Unmanned seeks to subvert the common threads of popular video games, and specifically those in the war genre. Instead of examining war from the front lines, players are placed in the role of a new type of soldier: one who controls unmanned attack aircraft by day, and by night goes home to a suburban life. Throughout a few days in this soldier’s life, players learn that the conflict that most grips that soldier is not on the battlefield, but in his mind. The gameplay begs the question, “when you’re so far removed from the battlefield and the damage you cause, how does that damage the other connections in your life?” […]
Unmanned was written by Jim Munroe, the “pop culture provocateur” behind No Media Kings and developed by Molleindustria, the Italian game studio who uses games to spark social and political discussion.”

Papers, please, Lucas Pope

“This game is a work-in-progress.

– Ring the bell to call the next applicant.
– Inspect the documents and look for errors.
– Click the inspect button at the bottom right to enter inspection mode.
– While inspecting, highlight any two pieces of information that don’t match to enable the denial stamp.
– Reference the Rules & Regulations to find and highlight errors.
– Approve or deny entry by extending the right-hand stamp bar and stamping all documents before returning them.

In this build, all applicants have at least one problem with their documents.”

Illegal Heroes, Entter

“Currently, contemporary societies are undergoing a process of dehumanization that, is taking us slowly by slowly into a virtualisation of human relations and emotions towards frontiers unknown. […]
The conceptual basis of this project is rooted in the recognition of the radical shift taking place by means of this virtualisation and subsequent reconstruction of reality. The final result is a videogame with an arcade aesthetic based on the fluxes of illegal immigration into developed countries where the more ordinary dynamics between the players/spectators of videogames and their characters are turned upside down. Instead, he/she actively becomes an ‘antihero’ that has to fight for his/her actual survival in ‘real time’ and in the living world. This does not attempt to revisit past realities or create imposed ones. This is our inescapable present reality.”

Dead in Iraq America’s army online protest/memorial, Joseph de lappe

“This video is generally shown as an installation, writ large, using a video projector. The project dead-in-iraq is an online memorial and protest taking place within the US Army recruiting game, “America’s Army”. I enter the game as “dead-in-iraq” in order to manually type the name, age, service branch, date of death of each service person who has died to date in Iraq using the game’s text message. The work is essentially a fleeting, online memorial and anti-war protest. This documentary machinima was recorded and edited in 2008.”

Post Newtonianism, Josh Bricker

“This piece is a two channel video with sound. The video on the left consists of a loop of actual war footage taken from cameras mounted on American military aircraft, from both airplanes and helicopters. Taken during the first Gulf War in 1991, and the current occupation of Iraq the footage shows the bombing of vehicles, military targets as well as the shooting of insurgents and oppositional forces. In contrast the footage on the right is from the popular video game “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare”. The sound track is a mixture of audio taken from the video game and the footage released by Wikileaks approximately two months ago in which the US military killed two reporters working for Reuters as well as a number of unarmed civilians.”

Isabelle Arvers, invitée à "jouer" avec Play Again par Poptronics