6 Appropriation of Games in Media Art

An intensive engagement with the medium of the computer game began in the 1990s, especially on the part of media artists. This mainly evolved into practices of appropriating aesthetic content and in the modification (modding) of existing games.[9]

In 2003, the Australian artist Julian Olivier, together with Steven Pickles, developed the project q3apd, which used a modified game environment from the popular game Quake III Arena (ID Software 1999) for sound performances. The actions within the game environment were given new sound parameters and staged live. QQQ (2002) by the British artist Nullpointer (Tom Betts) also appropriated the code from the online shooter Quake III by modifying the parameters of the game engine that control sound and graphics, so that the actions of the online players were transformed into an abstract stream of images and sounds.

The work retroYOU r/c (1999–2001) by the Spanish artist Joan Leandre intervenes in the simulation of game physics and the graphical representation by altering the software code of a car racing game. This way, the audiovisual level of the game is turned into an interactive performance tool that can be controlled with a steering wheel, realizing an impressive dynamic-abstract collage of the various visual and auditive game elements (car fragments, explosions, elements of the race track, etc.).

These are examples of how artists and programmers develop innovative and autonomous installations and performance tools on the basis of existing hardware and software from the game industry. Unlike appropriation in modern art of the 20th century, this has less to do with a reference to the original context of the material used, but rather with the experimental transformation of existing software in an attempt to automatically generate new types of audiovisual situations. The modified code of all the aforementioned works is made available for download by the artists on their web sites, which affords the audience the possibility of further experiments or collaborations.

The Australian Internet resource http://www.selectparks.net is an outstanding source in this respect.