Machinima – fan art?

I’ve often thought about machinima as fan art – but I’ve never felt completely comfortable with it. I’ve always felt like machinima in itself – was an artform in it’s own right. But then there are such lucious films like this. Which clearly is fan based, but a voyeuristic delight none the less!

Speaking of fan art – I’ve started a little theory about why we’re not talking enough about this in Norway. We have no word for “fan” – seriously – if you can think of something do tell me – but I don’t think we have a word for ‘fan’. We have supporter – which is generally considered to be football fans. But it’s not even that – a football fan is a supporter, although I’m not sure that a WoW machinimator is a supporter of Blizzard. It’s baffled me for a while now and there’s definitely a cultural significance in being wordless on the subject. It’s interesting – and just a thought to share.

Advertisements

Thoughts on analysing Machinima – part 1

I’m not a big fan of the notion that machinima will replace the art of animation. Machinima is something completely different, in my opinion. Like Henry Lowood says:

“It is important to recall that the origins of machinima lie not in content production, but in gameplay” (Lowood, 2006 in Video Games and Art)

It is something that has evolved from high-performance gameplay to brilliant meaningful content, but the essence is still gameplay. The ability to master a game so well that you can bend it and form it into your own mold of content, your own story, your own expression.

Dr. Lowood again:

“Depicting machinima as high-performance play stems from its emergence from inter-relationships of play, spectatorship, technical virtuosity and storytelling in computer games. Each of these factors played a role in defining the practices of machinima as practices of game performance.”(Lowood, 2006, Video Games and Art)

So how should we go about deconstructed machinima, finding it’s meaning, it’s aura – it’s true art?

Continue reading

Machinima, copyright and schools

I had an interesting phone conversation the other day.

There’s an organisation that promotes art to schools here in Norway, Kunst i Skolen. It’s completely new to me, but it’s existed since 1948 (way to go Norway!). So I’m still kinda dazed about this – but from what I can gather, they have these travelling exhibitions for schools (and I think members – although, I’m not sure if the schools need to be members). They’ve got loads of great stuff to offer, including CD-roms of collections and art for teaching purposes.

So why am I getting into this?

I was asked on Tuesday if I could put together a DVD of some Machinima films and I also offered to write a little summary of what machinima is. Now – ofcourse I’m having difficulty. Since they’re an official organisation they need all the copyright details to be in order – and I’m struggling. The game companies certainly have come around the last couple of years – but the music industry – hell no. So when trying to present an art that’s all about reproduction of media – fan art – remediation – or whatever we’re calling it these day – what to do?

It’s frustrating, and in my opinion needless, ridiculous and depriving so many of some great art. But I take comfort that they can be found online – which is just another rant waiting to burst out of me soon – but another time.

Anyhoo – I’m in desperate need of machinima with copyright issues in order. I have to play catch-up on my machinima copyright laws, but if memory serves me right Blizzard and Microsoft are fair – leaving it up to the artist as long as they don’t make any money off it. I’m unsure about The Sims, though, but I’m thinking they’ll be alright. What about Take 2?

Please let me know if you have any good ideas and machinima to offer.

I have a time limit on this that’s insane – I basically need to send this in the post on Monday. But how could I refuse? Machinima in schools? Are you kidding me?! I love it!

Protesting in a virtual world


Joseph DeLappe is an active artist protesting the war in Iraq.

On March 20th, the date of the US invasion of Iraq, DeLappe will enter America’s Army, peacefully.

America’s Army is an MMORPG designed by the US military which also functions as an active reqruiter. for the army.

He’ll be using the login name “dead-in-Iraq” and well…I’m almost tempted to download America’s Army to witness the action. But quite honestly, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. Would I be supporting America’s Army or would I be supporting Joseph DeLappe?

“As of 1/17/08, I have input 3745 names. I intend to keep doing so until the end of this war. As of 1/17/08 there have been 3929 American service persons killed in Iraq” – Networked Performance

So he’ll be manually(!) writingthe name, age, service branch and date of death of each service person who has died to date in Iraq.

Does it all sound familiar? Well, it seems he started dead-in-iraq in 2006. It kinda gives you a perspective on matters when an artist repeats his protest 3 years in a row. That’s interesting.

I have to admit I’m feeling a tad sorry for the poor MMORPG players – I mean what are they suppossed to do? Hmmm – maybe they should join him somehow? Maybe he should invite them to. It would be lovely if someone documented the discussions this sparked in-world. It seems he doesn’t engage in any social conversation…well…who could blame him with 3745 US soldiers to memorialise.

It certainly made an impression on me. I think it would be cool if they could stream the protest but I worry about the privacy rights of the players.

Digital Culture, Play and Identity – a WoW Reader


Keep a look out for Jill Walker Rettberg and Hilde Corneliussen‘s Digital Culture, Play and Identity. A World of Warcraft Reader which is now available for pre-order at amazon. The table of contents looks snazy, tasty and delicious. It’s a book I’ll definitely be reading no matter what I’m doing in my life at point of release. I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to have two women like Hilde and Jill at the university. I keep kicking myself, though, for staying the media studies path instead of joining the Humanities. Oh well – such is life. Either way, they’ve been such an inspirational source for me the last couple of years – and I’ve never even had them as a lecturer for any class! Jill’s publications can be found here and Hilde’s here. Seriously, though, whenever I was going mad with the complications of thinking about virtuality, their writings always made me see a light at the end of the tunnel. This promises to be an excellent book. Contributers include: Scott Rettberg, Lisbeth Klastrup, T.L. Taylor, Ragnhild Tronstad, Tanya Krzywinska, Espen Aarseth – and more!

Media Coverage


Marianne Westerlund wrote a great piece for Bergens Tidende, the Thursday paper – unfortunately I can’t find it anywhere online – which is a real bummer really. I asked most of the people who had showed up if they’d read it, but most shook their head and told me they never read the paper version anymore. Well – there’s some food for thought! But she wrote a great article where she had interviewed quite a few machinima artists about their art, which was just really really interesting. There’s also an interview with me – hehe – it was weird seeing the words “Says Linn Søvig while shaking her head”. But really cool as well – she’s a great journalist and I hope to read much much more of her stuff in the future!

Continue reading

2 Films that didn’t make it

We never really had the opportunity to run through the whole program before the machinima night (my fault because I have to work during the day) – so I spontaneously cut 2 films from the program.

I already knew that we had too many films and that I would have to limit my time on the microphone. I wanted the films to speak for themselves – but then again – I have so much to say about these films. But in the end I was glad – because it turns out that I still get nervous with a microphone and specially when the room is filled with sceptics and people I admire so incredibly much. But I’ll get into that more later.

There was just too much, so I had to cut

Tristan Pope’s ‘Not Just Another Love Story’

Part 1

This one hurt me the most. Because I was talking to some folks after who started discussing why there weren’t any political machinima – and this was my example of that – but oh well! Another time.

Second Life Coca Cola vending machine

“Not Coca Cola but the essence of Coca Cola” – well that’s branding for you. But it’s really well thought out and has to be one of the best commercial ventures into virtual worlds I’ve seen so far. They’ve really embraced the collaboration era and that has to be admired. Clearly understanding that avatars are “thirsty for experience” – I’m impressed. I’ll be eagerly monitoring their success. Although I was rather hopeful that there would be more “set your brand free to be played with” as discussed in the Building Businesses in Virtual Worlds panel at State of Play V. This seems to be more restricted ehm…gameplay? interaction? from what I can see. But I haven’t taken the time to experiment with them myself yet – so I really shouldn’t be too critical.