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All play at work

Engaging with the community is the theme of this year’s gaming residency

Engaging with the community is the theme of this year’s gaming residency  

Artists take some seminal issues facing us into the framework of gaming at an ongoing gaming residency at Khoj

Gaming and art. These two disparate streams merge yet again in ‘Of Games-III’, the third edition of art and gaming residency at Khoj, a space known for initiating experimental art practices. Six artists — some individuals and some working in pairs like Polish artist Juliusz Zenkner, American artist Leonardo Castaneda and Krishnarjun Bhattacharya, Chinmayee Samant, Mario D'Souza - Sanket Jadia and Thukral & Tagra from India have produced six projects over a six week residency at Khoj studios in Khirkee Extension. They will be on display from October 15 at the venue.

Artists use the platform of gaming to raise issues about political system, boundaries, water crisis and even some existential concerns. While the first gaming residency was looking through the lens of new media art practices, the second gaming residency had participants who had specific interest in gaming like app developers, professional game developers. The third, which is the ongoing residency at Khoj, according to Promona Sengupta, curator, are focused on experience that a viewer can get within the gaming structure. “And anyone can play these games. You don’t need to be a geeky gamer. There is no winning and losing involved. We had a broad theme of community which encompasses diverse strands of thought, including community-building and socially engaged practice, games as methodology for policy development and activism, critical narratives around gamer groups, gender and power within the world of gaming, racial representations and cultural imperialism within games, gaming historiography etc,” explains Promona.

Chinmayee working with user experience (UX), interface design, wire-framing and branding, has devised a game revolving around the structure of our government. “The game’s objective is to increase the interest level of the player in complex political and social changes through a light and fun based game play,” says Chinmayee.

Sanket Jadia and Mario D’Souza have come up with a board game “Motherland/Homeland” around Kashmir that will familiarize the player with the side of the Valley which is normal. Mario collected stories — about normal Kashmiris — which have got nothing to do with conflict. These compiled stories have been put on the board game which is like an abstract map of Kashmir. As a player moves around, he/she becomes aware of different aspects of the State. Juliusz Zenkner has picked the immediate issue of migrants. Juliusz is working towards a game that presents a complex narrative exploring the journey of the dispossessed refugee, from the homeland, across seas to her destination country where she is unwelcome.

Since Krishnarjun is a writer, narrative occupies the central space in the work. He is working on two projects — “Amor Fati” is about an eternal battle between Hope and Despair, as they try and control a mortal’s life and steer it towards their own end. Players play as Hope, Despair, Mirth, Ego, or as the Mortal — this game being about pure storytelling, countering other stories with stories of your own, and believing in a world enough to make it real. The other project, “An Old Lady Dies” is about storytelling balanced with game play on a game board. A rich old woman dies, and relatives turn up for the inheritance; except none of them knew the old woman at all. Through photographs and visual cues the players try to lie their way into convincing the lawyer that they did know her the most, until night falls and the old woman’s ghost appears on the game board.

The artist pair of Thukral & Tagras’ work “Walk Of Life” is built upon the ancient Indian game called Ganjifa. Originally played with a set of 120 cards, the artists have turned it into a board game that depicts Dashavatar, the 10 earthly incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu. The avatars can also be considered as the evolution of mankind: from fish, to reptile, to mammal, to human, to deity. The game aims to impart the meaning of life to those who play it, in effect by paying off one’s ‘debts’ and equalizing one’s ‘scores,’ which are recorded on the card of Karma. The duo bring it into the context of water crisis.

(“Of Games-III” will be on display at Khoj Studios from October 15-17, 2015 at Khoj Studios, Khirkee Extension)

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 12:16:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/all-play-at-work/article7747547.ece

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