University of California, Irvine
School of the Arts
Irvine, CA USA


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"Installation, Beall Center" 
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 Photograph copyright:
 Laurel Hungerford

Installation design:
Antenna Design New York Inc.

::  Curated by  ::
Antoinette LaFarge &
Robert Nideffer

::  Organized by  ::
Jeanie Weiffenbach

 ::  Catalogue Essay by  ::
Antoinette LaFarge &
Robert Nideffer

SHIFT-CTRL is an examination of games, gaming, and related new technologies as interpreted by a diverse group of artists.  An exhibition that takes place both in The Beall Center for Art and Technology and on the Internet, it looks critically yet playfully at how games are altering social systems and creative practice as they explode from a niche market dominated by a youth demographic to occupy cultural center stage. 

includes a mix of installations and networked pieces, putting a unique spin on creative research related to gaming while providing alternative models for appreciating how these initiatives are affecting our culture.
Over the past 75 years, some of the most provocative works produced by artists can be situated as "games" of one kind or another.  The artists of SHIFT-CTRL continue his tradition with works that incorporate elements of play, performance, and parody, encouraging--and even demanding--interactive participation among audiences in order to be realized.  SHIFT-CTRL gives visitors hands-on experience of the many new forms games are taking today, with a special focus on three areas:
Role-Playing Games and Shared Social Spaces - Artists are increasingly creating not just individual pieces but entire systems that are mutually consistent and richly detailed enough to be thought of as "worlds" rather than "works".  Many of these spaces are shared, collaborative spaces embodying alternative social forms and attracting thousands of players.  What happens to the very idea of social space when it becomes virtual?  How does role-playing differ from more familiar forms such as storytelling and performance?
Evolvable/Emergent Systems - Artists are simulating life forms and their environments within the computer, creating elaborate works through mathematics.  With these new artificial life forms, has life itself become a game?  What changes in art practice are heralded by artworks that can evolve or be bred?
World Hacks--Rewriting Existing Worlds - Many artists create games that transgress established conventions, question common assumptions, or rewrite  the rules of existing games.  These critiques raise fundamental questions about both art and games: Under what conditions can a work be extended beyond its original boundaries?  How is agreement reached on rules?   How do rule-based systems maintain themselves?  
The Beall Center for Art and Technology and SHIFT-CTRL have been supported by Rockwell International, the Beall Family Foundation, RareCSP, Attachmate Corporation, Antenna Design New York Inc., Apple, and Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc.
Installation:  Antenna Design New York, Inc.
Antionette LaFarge is an artist, writer and designer who is the founder and director of the Museum of Forgery, as well as founder and director of the Plaintext Players, an online improvisational performance troupe.  She is Assistant Professor of Studio Art at the University of California, Irvine.
Robert Nideffer researches, teaches and publishes in the areas of virtual environments and behavior, interface theory and design, technology and culture, and contemporary social theory.  He is Assistant Professor of Studio Art at the University of California, Irvine and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Information and Computer Science.