Free Pixel

discovering games as expressive media

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    FreePixel looks at video games as part of the moving image culture. Games are not movies. But games use moving image tradition in their presentation. That is why FreePixel offers a critical look at games and their expressive qualities that grow from the use of the moving image.


    [August 30th, 2012]

    Foci & Loci: Performing Machinima in LBP

    Posted by micnit

    Machinima is always a kind of performance. To make that point, I often refer back to great machinima performance examples such as Chris Burke’s This Spartan Life (which finally saw episode 7 released in April ).
    His latest endeavor continues this approach on using game worlds as virtual stages at live events. But now the performance unfolds between player, musician, and game.
    This time he collaborates with sound artist Tamara Yadao, forming the foci + loci “game art duo.” And game art it is – not in the sense of making art for games but making art with them. I have not seen their live performances but they sound exciting:

    “We use video games to create performance spaces in-game and use these in live performance. Much of it is live sound art, a sort of virtual music concrete.”

    In practice, they use Little Big Planet 2 like a programming environment, coding bots, behaviors, objects, and sounds for their live performances. Those performances evolve from the pre-programmed LBP landscapes and whatever they add to them (either as player or – it seems – live editor). Here is some recording from their “200 keyholes” piece:

    200 Keyholes v2 from foci + loci on Vimeo.

    It has a Second Life arty touch to it in that the attraction comes from some clever builds that consist of level architecture. But here, the world is much less social and more based on the game as a tool or machine. Only that this game happens to be a hugely creative playground. For example, Chris and Tamara programmed it so that the controls change depending on which scene element is currently in focus – in his words: “it’s something like Max-MSP” only with Little Big Planet.
    They also just gave a workshop on “Performance Machines in Game Space” at the Museum of Arts and Design as part of the Babycastles Summit. I believe they are touring with their performances, so make sure to keep up to date with their schedule!
    Using the game as a performing machine, almost a partner in crime, is a nice twist to machinima. One that underlies a lot of interesting work and seems to touch something at the heart of the format and practice of machinima. Curious to see how this work will evolve in future and good to see that they combine it with workshops to spread the idea.

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