Video games and gaming culture are starting to form an inescapable part of the debate on what is art and what is not. Vector: Game + Art Convergence (Feb 21 – 24 in Toronto) is a large interdisciplinary conference/exhibit looking to find out just what this actually means.
If you were wondering, “what exactly is game art?” the event’s co-director (and Broken Pencil games columnist) Deeming explains:
“Game art encompasses any creative practice that draws on games as the inspiration for art-making. Art games challenge our understanding of what games are, may play with aesthetics, mechanics or themes, and they live outside video game norms.”
Vector is also exploring a wide array of mediums in order to evaluate and exhibit the notion of games and art for the festival. Of course there will be digital gaming but attendees can also look forward to photographic work, video work, glitch art, interactive sculpture and even textile work. There will also be a Pop-up shop selling books, CDs, DVDs, card games etc.
But before you go thinking that this is all video games and nerd fuel, remember this is a game and art convergence: it’s not just for the hardcore game enthusiast. “I think people think this is a festival for gamers,” Deeming says. “It’s not – it’s a festival which celebrates the potential of the medium of games. I think that gamers, art enthusiasts, non-gamers, etc will all find something that resonates with them at the festival.” If video games aren’t your thing, Vector offers an assortment of other exhibits, including a board game remix jam (based on the popular Board Game Jam events here in Toronto) and February 23rd’s Supercade, featuring a screening of anime, commercials and other pieces from when video games and Saturday morning cartoons collided back in the ’80s, as well as the ongoing exhibit Ludacy, where three game designers transform their work into new media art installations.
The conference will also take a look at some of the medium’s views on normalcy in gaming. A big issue being raised is the portrayal of women. Deeming has called this portrayal “rather troubling” and something that needs to be spoken about, along with the related, illusory “boys club” that video game culture has created. Vector will feature a number of events that deal with the themes of gender and gaming, like February 22nd’s Playing Personae, which will examine the ways that gender is performed in games, as well as a talk on feminism in games and game art featuring a panel of artists and academics who are engaging in feminist theory and practice.
Vector has an insane amount of things going on – nearly too much to cover here. But with the aforementioned draws and other compelling art events such as the Other World Exhibition with pieces like Night Journey by legendary new media artist Bill Viola, it’s not hard to find a reason to come and see what’s going on!
Vector runs from February 21st to the 24th. For full information visit vectorgameartfest.tumblr.com.