TransGenre: City Gaming & Public Art

Panelists: Peggy Weil, Anne Dennington, Carl DiSalvo, Sara Thacher, Jeff Watson

ARGs are not only transmedia, they are TransGenre. Games in general, and city games in particular, have “crossed over” from the cult/gamer and commercial/marketing sectors as celebrated innovations in public art. International art festivals from the Venice Biennale to San Jose’s ZeroOne are commissioning game designers to create site-specific artworks transforming the urban landscape into urban gamescape.

While urban game designers are tech-savvy and urban gamers find themselves in virtual and augmented realities – required to take full advantage of mobile/social networks – games as public art have theatrical roots, particularly in street theater, improv, performance art, club culture and literature.

This panel will address the intersection of city gaming as public art identifying both precedents and opportunities for game designers to create work for public spaces.

Peggy Weil

Peggy Weil is a digital media artist and designer focusing on interactive and immersive design. As a member of the Architecture Machine Group (now the M.I.T. Media Lab) from 1980-1982, she worked on pioneering interactive projects in design and telepresence, going on to create titles for The Voyager Company, Broderbund, Electronic Arts, Von Holtzbrinck and Ravensberger Interactive. Weil was awarded the MILIA D’OR in Cannes in 1998 for the CD-ROM series Moving Puzzle. She designed the original Roden Crater website in 1996 and was creative producer/designer for USC’s Institute for Creative Technology E.L.E.C.T. project, a role-playing game to increase cultural awareness in Army Officers and The Redistricting Game, a USC Annenberg Center sponsored project to increase voter awareness about redistricting. Projects include The Blurring Test, a reverse Turing Test running for over a decade; Gone Gitmo, a virtual installation of Guantánamo Prison; Wall Jumpers, a global visualization of political separation barriers and the IPSRESS Project, an experiment in Immersive Journalism. Her work has been exhibited at LABoral in Gijon Spain, presented internationally, including Games For Change Conference in New York, The Center for Human Rights at UC Berkeley, MIPDOC and MIPTV in Cannes, Simposio Feedforward, LABoral and PICNIC Amsterdam

Ann Dennington

Anne Dennington returned to Atlanta in November of 2009 to become the Executive Director of Flux Projects, a new organization to support artists in creating innovative temporary public art throughout Atlanta. Dennington has deep connections to Atlanta’s arts community, having served as the first Executive Director of Atlanta Celebrates Photography (ACP) from April 2004 to September 2007, and before that as Director of The Lowe Gallery from 1997 to 2004. More recently, she has been Director of Museums for the City of Monroe, Louisiana, overseeing the Masur Museum of Art, the largest visual arts museum in northeast Louisiana, and the Cooley House.

Dennington began working in public art in 2004, when she developed the public art component of ACP’s programming. She also served on Mayor Shirley Franklin’s Public Art Advisory Committee in 2007 and on the board of Atlanta’s Metropolitan Public Art Coalition (MPAC) from 2006 to 2008. Other community involvement includes a current position on the advisory board of ACP, as well as having served on the Louisiana Association of Museums’ Council in 2009 and the ArtPapers magazine board of directors from 1998 to 2004.

Carl DiSalvo

Carl DiSalvo, Assistant Professor, Ph.D., School of Literature, Communication, and Culture, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA.  Since 2001 DiSalvo has worked actively at the intersection of design, art, communities and politics. His research in participatory design focuses on developing and theorizing new modes of community engagement with emerging technologies that emphasize the creative and critical aspects of design and the role of design in the construction of publics.  He has recently published in the proceedings of the ACM Conferences on Human Factors in Design (CHI) and Participatory Design, the journal Design Issues, and contributed a chapter to the book From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen (MIT Press 2010)

Sara Thacher

Sara Thacher is the lead producer and culture engineer for Nonchalance, a hybrid arts consultancy in San Francisco with an expertise in Situational Design.  Their mission is to provoke discovery through visceral experiences and pervasive play. They have worked on a diverse range of projects including the award winning ‘Games of Nonchalance,’ an ongoing adventure through the heart of San Francisco that begins at the real offices of the fictional ‘Jejune Institute,’ and most recently, ‘Scoop!’ an interactive game focused on citizen journalism using a live FM radio broadcast.

Before arriving on the Nonchalance team, Sara literally walked a mile in the shoes of sixteen different strangers (she gave them back afterwards) and took surrogate vacations for other people who wanted to travel, but were not able to do so. Counting among her winnings a tomato plant and the only gloves that ever fit her hands, Sara has initiated evenings filled with formal games of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ in the name of challenging her opposition to consider the value of the objects they wager. Along the way, she became a proficient glassblower, completed her BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design and then earned an MFA in Social Practice from the California College of the Arts. Sara has received grants and commissions from the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art, the San Francisco Foundation, Southern Exposure, The Center for Art and Public Life, and the Providence Art Council. In the course of the last decade she has created and managed numerous socially engaged projects in the public sphere throughout the United States and Canada.

Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is an interdisciplinary media practitioner with a background in screenwriting, filmmaking, and game design. His doctoral research in Media arts and Practice at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts focuses on investigating how ubiquitous computing and social media can enable new forms of storytelling and civic engagement.

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