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Session Information

TitlePerformance and Meaning in Contemporary Art and Video Games
Presenter(s)Roger Travis, Associate Professor of Classics, University of Connecticut

Alex Myers, Assistant Professor of Game Studies, Bellevue University

James Schirmer, Assistant Professor of English, University of Michigan-Flint
TimeFriday, October 19, 10:30a-11:30a
LocationGold A
DescriptionArt has for the last 100 years utilized the form and performance of games to enrich artistic possibilities. Artists have long recognized the emotive power of personal performance. Whether for political or personal motives, artists from groups as diverse as the Dadaists, Surrealists, Fluxus, and Situationists International, have created artgames or game-like art as alternatives to the traditional mediums approved by the Academy. Performance Art grew out of the practices of these groups and blended the experiences of theatre and art-making. Contemporary artgames build upon this heritage through the practice and performance of video games, widely considered the 21st Century medium. Our three superheroes will discuss the mimetic experience of video games within this context.

Roger Travis argues that Plato's idea of mimesis as a way of approaching the relationship of art to perceived reality finds new cogency in game-culture's relationship to games. Rather than understanding Platonic mimesis as "imitation," Travis seeks to understand the term as referring to any practice of "performance-as," a reading that allows us to describe gameplay in aesthetic terms: gamers' performances themselves become art, legible as such both to themselves and to other interpreters.

Alex Myers makes artgames that utilize the beauty of apophenia. Apophenia is a result of our need to invest meaning onto everything we experience. We transcribe significance constantly in our daily lives. This writing increases until it reaches a critical mass of meaninglessness and then eventually it finds its way into the realm of meaning again. Myers will be discussing the process and embodiment of his impulsions and how they sit in relation to both contemporary art and contemporary game design.

James Schirmer intends to bridge statements made by his fellow panelists in discussing a playthrough of Myers's artgame as emblematic of Travis's "performance-as" argument. In a talk that will be equal parts practice and transcription, Schirmer offers personal and pragmatic reflection on "Writing Things We Can No Longer Read," thereby documenting a mimetic act.

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