Take a playful look at creative art

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 October, 2005, 12:00am

Play involves more than trying to get a high score on a computer game, according to organisers of Microwave International Media Art Festival 2005.

The event's theme is Culture As Play. It includes a media art exhibition, video screenings and a conference that challenges conventional perceptions of play and games.

'We want to open up the idea of play and show people other ways of making playful works of art, said curator Hector Rodriguez, an associate professor at the School of Creative Media at City University (CityU).

'Many people tend to think of play and games in a narrow way because they like to play certain kinds of computer games, which are very standardised,' he said.

'We hope that young people - particularly university or secondary students - will be inspired and perhaps become interactive designers who do more creative things, instead of merely imitating existing games.'

The exhibition, to be staged at City Hall, will showcase a wide variety of installations and online games created by international and local media artists who have combined the concepts of play and art.

For example, I See Where You Are 'In Central' is a PDA game created by local artists Linda Lai, Justin Wong, Alan Fong and Bryan Chung. It explores the idea of public space. Players, in groups of two, must co-operate to search for a target in Central with the help of online technology and a PDA.

Other highlights include PainStation 2.5 - a game that gives players a painful sensation if they lose - and online games by female artists Mary Flanagan (Domestic) and Susan Berkenheger (The Bubble Bath) which have no clear-cut goals for players but instead allows them to create their own characters which can be used to explore other selves.

The theme of using play to explore new possibilities is also featured in video screenings at the Hong Kong Film Archive which are being curated by Lai, an assistant professor at CityU's School of Creative Media.

Lai said the two video programmes, Just For Fun: Play is Fabrication and Let's Pretend: Shall We Begin? would appeal to teenagers who are interested in movies or video-making.

'They very much focus on video-makers who look at the video camera as a toy, not just as something that records things that move in front of it,' said Lai.

Play 'is done for the experience', said Rodriguez.

'You want to explore something or surpass yourself. You don't do it for a purpose. You don't do it to make money or improve your health. I think the idea of doing something for its own sake is the heart of play.'

The festival runs from October 20 to November 2. For more information, visit www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp or www.microwavefest.net