London Art Reviews

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Fascinating “Videogames” exhibition at the V&A Museum, London.

Le Blanc Seing, 1965 by Rene Magritte. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Videogames the V&A Musuem, London.

Le Blanc Seing, 1965 by Rene Magritte. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington

This great exhibition is focused on the design of Videogames”, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

“Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt” is the first exhibition on design of videogames, a very creative and fast changing sector – at the V&A Museum, London. Beginnings from the 2000’s, it considers video games on the aspect of a contemporary cultural fact, exploring the artistic, emotional and radical potential.

The exhibition “Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt” supports the V&A Museum (London), activity as a space for contemporary debate, which actively collects, displays and programme digital design.

The Victoria & Albert Museum examines new boundaries that contemporary designers, players and critics are severely reworking. Often made at home, videogames can be distinctive but also a chaotic combination of medium from visual arts to music, coding and animation.

On display, original prototypes, early character designs and notebooks together with cultural inspiration, spanning from Magritte works to viral videos, which are inspired by the process of developing games such as “The Last of Us” to “Kentucky Route Zero”.

The “Videogames” exhibition shows the talent and technique to make innovative videogame design, for example like blockbuster titles produced by leading studios such as “Splatoon” from Nintendo, to independents such as “Journey” by thatgamecompany. These works are displayed alongside large-scale immersive multimedia and interactive installations from “Minecraft” to “League of Legends” and investigations of the social and political issues in the field, offering an insight into the design process, community and culture of videogames.

Important technological developments happened on mid-2000s. The V&A Museum exhibition focuses on improved access to broadband, social media and newly available means of making, which transformed the way games are conceived, designed, and used. Nowadays, this trend has reached at least 2.2 billion players worldwide. The reach and range of gaming is examined within creative online player communities who modify games and create fan art. Spectators and competitive performers at large scale are able to pack stadium events.

The first room, ‘Design’, has chosen eight games as examples, opening with Journey, and it examines the design inspirations, craftsmanship and creative practice created by a new generation of designers, from large established studios to solo independent designers.

The following section of the V&A Museum exhibition, ‘Disrupt’, treats video games from a social and political point of

League of Legends, Worlds 2017, Riot Games, co. V&A Museum, London.

League of Legends, Worlds 2017, Riot Games, co. V&A Museum, London.

view, for example displaying activist games like “A Series of Gunshots”. Videogames can deal with difficult and delicate themes such as representation, race, sexuality and geo-politics. Wider availability of tools for games making, broadened connection, helped designers in starting engagement more extensively with social and ethical debates. This section presents interviews and opinion from influential game makers and commentators who are leading this discussion such as developer Rami Ismail and advocate Tanya de Pass.

‘Play’ is the final room. The third section celebrates the amazing imagination and collaborative creativity revealed by videogames players in real and virtual communities, transcending the role of the designer to democratise design on a vast scale. It presents aspects of the mutual efforts of “Minecraft” players on short films, and also the 7500 Eve Online players who participated in the biggest battle in the online space-opera’s history. Also another highlight is the team who last year won League of Legends World Championships, Beijing, in a stadium packed with 90,000 spectators, joined by other millions online.

The V&A is broadly expanding its digital design collection, exploring how videogames, as digital objects, can be preserved and exhibited. Related activity has included a videogames- themed Friday Late in September 2017 which attracted nearly 8,000 visitors, held in collaboration with a major conference Parallel Worlds: Designing Alternative Realities in Videogames. Other activities have included the V&A Digital Design Weekend which features creators sharing their creative process, workshops for young people about careers in games design, community projects and digital learning programmes.

To coincide with the exhibition, the V&A Museum is inviting applications for a Videogames Residency, from 15 October 2018 – 15 June 2019. The resident will be a UK-based artist, designer or maker involved in the videogames scene, who wishes to develop their practice through working with the V&A’s curators and learning team to develop new work and engage with the public.

“Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt” is curated by Marie Foulston, Curator of Videogames and Kristian Volsing, Research Curator, at the V&A Museum, London.

The exhibition is designed by Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio with AV design by Squint Opera, graphic design by Julia and sound design by Coda to Coda.

The exhibition supporter is the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

“Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt” exhibition runs from 8th September 2018 until 24th February 2019 in Room 39 and the North Court at the V&A Museum, London.

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This entry was posted on September 29, 2018 by in Museums, News and tagged , , , .

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