In 2005, I began work on a hybrid video game and installation environment called Playas: Homeland Mirage, which was exhibited at ACM Multimedia 2005 and ISEA/ZeroOne 2006. During the course of development, and after several iterations of the project, I became aware of intrinsic problems when using the video game engine for the purposes of an interactive installation. I began to research video games and the current literature related to ludology and quickly realized that very little was understood or documented about the issues with which I was concerned. The use of video game technology in the production of certain artworks reveals deeper problems related to issues of immersion in virtual spaces. I sought to engender a critically reflective experience that encouraged participants to reconsider their notions of the world and their place within it; often, technology seemed to thwart that desire, mirroring a familiar critique of video games in general. As a result, I embarked on a trajectory of research concerning the functioning of this work.
Oliver Grau, Brenda Laurel, and others have recognized the effect immersion has on the critically reflective response of viewers. Using methods from Naturalistic Inquiry, I have performed a qualitative analysis using Playas as a case study. Semi-structured interviews of participants who have interacted with the work form the basis of an investigation into the functioning of critical reflection. This paper will discuss the findings of this inquiry in the context of contemporary visual art. The paper will illustrate how, despite some claims to the contrary, mediation requires us to re-address fundamental art-historical issues such as critical reflection. Rather than approaching media with an essentialist “||” (logical operator, or) disposition, we must incorporate lessons from the past, synthesizing a future that takes advantage of the meaning-generation potential of digital media using the metaphor of the logical operator, “&&”.
- Jack Stenner, Ph.D, Digital Media Art, School of Art and Art History, University of Florida, USA
Full text (PDF) p. 422-424