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Video Games as Visual Art
1. Worldbuilding: Gaming and Art in the Digital Age
The multimedia exhibition WORLDBUILDING: Gaming and Art in the Digital Age features 30 different projects exploring gaming and time-based art. Taking place in Germany at the Julia Stoschek Collection, WORLDBUILDING asks questions about identity, gender, and autonomy all in the context of visual art’s relationship to video games. Some of the featured artists include Peggy Ahwesh, Cory Arcangel, Rebecca Allen, and Suzanne Treister.
Curator Hans Ulrich Obrist sees the exhibition as an archaeological look at video games and their aesthetic influence on art. Many of the featured games are 3D and VR. But there’s also a juxtaposition with the past—much of the project is about going back to classic games, like Tomb Raider and Pacman, in order to showcase the effects of time and interactivity on art. In this case, Pacman eats itself.
Because of the XR nature of the exhibit, new audiences are being brought into the conversation about the relationship between physical and digital reality. In another example, artist collective Keiken created a glowing wearable womb that’s placed around a player's mid-section, emitting vibrations and noises in order to bridge the divide between game and reality.
Obrist sees the blooming overlap between art and online gaming as an opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration that both looks forward to the future while creatively staying in touch with the past. He’s also thinking about the future of digital ecosystems in general.
The question with the metaverse is: will it be a continent or an archipelago? Particularly with the commercial forces at stake, there’s a race that maybe one entity will win. Then we’ll have a continental metaverse, which I don’t think will necessarily be beneficial. What will be more relevant or productive to think about the metaverse as a very immersive virtual world that is an archipelago, where different parallel realities will be connected, rather than one homogenised continent. - Hans Ulrich Obrist
Read more of the interview with curator Hans Ulrich Obrist here.
2. Welcome to the Meta Avatar Store
Late last year when Facebook changed its name to Meta there was a sense that the company had issued itself a challenge—to be a leader in emerging technology. Now Meta has followed up with a new avatar fashion store featuring fits by Prada, Balenciaga, and Thom Browne. But some are laughing. So far, responses have been critical of the digital designs offered by the fashion houses, with comments about the lack of thoughtfulness behind the collections. Currently, the Meta wardrobe only allows you to choose from pre-made looks rather than being able to build an individual style with different garments. (Also, Zuckerberg appears to be the unofficial model for the fits.)
However, this is just a step for Meta. They’ve followed up on their Web3 vision and are proving that they’re serious about ambitions to embrace new digital partners from various industries. The question is whether they will be able to create something aesthetically captivating to build off of the momentum from their rebrand.
3. A Revolution in Ownership
Rapper French Montana has an opinion—hyping up new technology, like non-fungible tokens, isn’t enough to give a digital project longevity and influence. But building on community does. Wary of crypto and Web3 speculation, he’s focusing on empowering artists and building a decentralized online community with his French Family Membership NFT Collection. And ownership is the focus.
French Montana owns 100% of the production and distribution rights to his new album “Montega”. With his NFT release, he’ll be able to offer ownership of his production to holders, increasing support for his continuing work. Since Family Membership holders will be able to own rights to “Montega”, they will receive part of the money made from the album. This is decentralized ownership at its best—a focus on the ability of artists to own and control their music as well as reward their fans.
4. Adidas x Nike Spar Over Utility
Adidas and Nike have been slugging it out in court recently over the common litigation topics—design patents and trademarks. But as fashion and fitness companies continue to embrace technology, the nature of these legal conflicts is changing. Adidas’ current lawsuit against Nike involves accusations that Nike’s apps, like Run Club and Training Club, have infringed on Adidas’ technology patents. Specifically, Adidas claims that Nike infringed on its methods for tracking users and creating fitness plans.
This lawsuit is notable because it’s one of the first times utility is being spotlighted—not just how the product looks but how it works. With the emergence of fitness apps and NFTs, the implications of this case are worth watching. More than just physical products, brands like Adidas and Nike are in the lifestyle business and willing to fight in court for their IP and data rights, especially in the realm of tech.
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