An exhibition at Hanover Project, a gallery situated at The University of Central Lancashire, Preston.
Hanover Project presents Half-Real an international exhibition that investigates the meeting of visual art and gaming technology. Half-Real is a title taken from Jesper Juul’s book of the same name, referring to the videogame as a medium that consists of real rules built within the confines of fictional worlds. Half-Real is an exhibition that explores these qualities within a fine art context and examines how artists are utilising the medium of videogames specifically, but also computational media more generally. In her seminal book ‘Hamlet on the Holodeck’, digital media theorist Janet Murray describes the participatory, procedural, spatial and encyclopaedic properties of computational media. Properties that lend videogames an expressive and persuasive power that is unique to the computer, a power that artists are utilising more as videogames mature as a cultural form.
Computers allow artists to represent behavior with rules that simulate aspects of the real world. In Tale of Tale’s work ‘The Graveyard’ the player enacts the role of an elderly woman walking through a graveyard, simulating a gruellingly slow paced walk toward a bench. In Molleindustria’s ‘Every Day The Same Dream’ the player simulates the repetitive routines of a generalised white-collar worker, the only respite is found in the small deviations from the routine one finds with each replay.
The fictional environments these artists create open up a ‘possibility space’ in which the player can test alternative realities that are either obscured or have not materialised in the real world. This is seen in Serafin Alvarez’s piece ‘Maze Walkthrough’. The player explores a series of empty corridors modelled from science fiction cinema, this plays on the viewers expectation as the player expects to find meaning and purpose around every corner; with every turn no solace is found. The qualities described may induce a sense of immersion; this is not mere escapism however. Upon leaving the confines of a videogame, the player may see the real world in a new light.