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Simveillance opens on August 7, at ISEA 2006

SimVeillance: San Jose lovingly reassembles glimpses of urban strangers traversing a local square, within a re-creation of that square inside a game. The artists will use surveillance cameras mounted a week before the show to capture images of passersby, which will be used as source material for creating in-game avatars. Viewers will be able to see the re-created locals wandering a replica of the square itself, creating a heightened awareness of a normally fleeting urban phenomenon. More…


The SimWorks series leverages various iterations of the best-selling Sims game franchise—Sims, Sims 2, Sims Online—to explore issues of identity and popular culture. The artists twist embedded properties of the game—avatar creation and hacking, bricolage construction of habitats and furnishings, the twisted survival logic of the underlying simulation engine itself—to address pressing questions… What can art be within a virtual setting? How does the voyeuristic nature of games and simulations impact our notions of ourselves and others? What does it mean to ‘import’ one’s likeness into a game environment as the surface of an autonomous cyber-being? Core to the series is the fundamentally disembodying and dislocating act of identifying with a virtual body in a simulated world.

The various SimWorks installations actively juxtapose conflicting impulses of visitors, who are simultaneously art appreciators and players. Modes of consumption inherent in these roles become a crucial part of experiencing the work—visitors both game the piece by pushing boundaries, and apply a critical aesthetic perspective to what they are viewing that would not necessarily be a part of consuming these games in the everyday context. SimWorks brings the exuberant playfulness of the gaming world and the more pointed and intellectualized play of the contemporary art world together to provoke thoughtful exploration of the paradigms and suppositions of both realms, and to inspire discussion among those who experience the works from either or both perspectives.

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