[art of game] Art of War

Violencia Series, Stockholm
Video works
Battlefield Stockholm 2006

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Art of War parts 1-3 / part 4b + part 4c
Video works on DVD - Parts 1-3 19mins PAL format - Part 4b and 4c 5 mins PAL format - Music by Edwin Morris

screen captures from parts 1 and 3

So I wake up on a Saturday morning to hear heavy machine-gun fire from somewhere nearby. The stills camera decides to give up the ghost, so borrowing a video camera, I set out to find the army has taken over part of Stockholm: tanks, troops, APCs, playing cat and mouse amidst the Saturday afternoon pedestrians, the civilian cars and buses...

Art of War comprises two video works that explore how representations of violence are constructed through contemporary media and how we interpret them from our safe consumerist perspective. The works blur the convergent discourses that inform them: the war movie, the warzone documentary, the news clip, overlaying them with questions of authenticity and complicity. In a warzone where lasers are substituted for real bullets and blood and guts are imaginary, the gaze of an outsider provokes performance and curiosity in those who would play at war.

Often ambiguous, the footage, which could have been shot in Beirut, Belfast or Sarajevo sets out to explore the nature of violence and how violent conflict is contextualised in the digital media age. As 'real' conflict zones become more restrictive, press access more heavily orchestrated, Bichard constructs an intrusive, voyeuristic commentary on the banality of warfare, the fine line that separates authoritarian control from abuse of power and the ease with which society is incorporated into the mechanisms of institutional violence. Uninvited by the authorities and provided only with earplugs, the works document a thrilling encounter with a grim game.

The footage was, taken in Stockholm in Spring 2006 by Bichard role-playing the part of a warzone cameraman. It captures events from a two day army exercise carried out in the heart of the city by the Swedish army: a series of 'wargame' scenarios.
In a broader context, the exercise can be seen on a number of levels: Sweden as a neutral but pragmatic protector of it's sovereignty, the european city as recent focus of conflict and civil war. But the scenarios played out in this war game relate to contemporary global narratives of fear and terror as a fake terrorist cell is 'uncovered' in the heart of the city; capture the flag on a deadlier level.

screen captures from part 4b

click here to launch a short clip from part 1 [quicktime 3.9mb]

click here to launch a short extract from part 4b [quicktime 3.2mb]



Spain 2008
La Casa Encedida, Madrid - Parts 1-3 --- Laboral, Gijon - Part 4b and 4c


By a wonderful coincidence, the two [art of game] Art of War video works are being shown at three venues in Spain. Parts 1 to 3 is being screened at the game art exhibition 'Try Again' curated by Juan Antonio Álvarez Reyes with works by 30 artists and performers including Tobias Bernstrup, Brody Condon, Dora Garcia, John Klima, Feng Mengbo, Palle Torsson and 0100101110101101.org. TRy Again runs at La Casa Encedida in Madrid then at Koldo Mitxelena in San Sebastian.

Parts 4b and 4c are being shown as a video installation at the 'Homo Ludens Ludens' show at Laboral Arts Centre in Gijon, an amazing venue sitting on the northern coast between the mountains and the Bay of Biscay:

LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial presents HOMO LUDENS LUDENS, an international exhibition and conference examining play as a principal element of today’ s world, and highlighting its necessity for our contemporary societies. Following the exhibitions GAMEWORLD and PLAYWARE, that reflected respectively on the different playful and social sides of gaming creativity and interactive art, HOMO LUDENS LUDENS now sets the setting that embraces these data and looks into the notion of play in a wider spectrum, presenting how it has evolved in our digital times.

Projects of a different character and orientation reflect play’s various expressions and roles: Play is being reformed and reversed; it embodies social and political acts and issues; it becomes a tool for activism; it mingles the virtual and the real; it revitalizes other disciplines; play can be misused and exploited; while stereotypes are challenged, questions are raised and different understandings are offered.

Following the same direction, the international conference HOMO LUDENS LUDENS which is co-organized with the Planetary Collegium aims through its two-day programme to situate the frame context of contemporary play, to highlight its interdisciplinary character and to present the multifaceted reality of the playful society we are living in. To achieve this, the Conference forms a special setting for dialogue and experimentation where it brings together international experts from the field of game theory as well as artists and practitioners who embrace elements and signs of play and playfulness in their work and research activities. So, what is play today and what about the player? The exhibition and conference can be understood as an examination of play as a vital element in our everyday life and as a speculation on the emergence of a Homo Ludens Ludens – the contemporary player of games.

Participants in the Exhibition: John Paul Bichard [art of game] art of war - France Cadet SweetPad - Derivart El burbujómetro - Devart Himalaya's Head - Ge Jin Gold Farmers - Vladan Joler Schengen Information System, Version 1.0.3 - Radwan Kasmiya Under Seige - John Klima The Great Game. Epilogue - La Fiambrera Obrera & Mar de Niebla Bordergames - Danny Ledonne Playing Columbine: a True Story of Videogame Controversy - Valeriano López Estrecho Adventure - Ludic Society Objects of Desire - Brian Mackern Living Stereo - Larry Miller Interview with George Maciunas - MIT Lab - Drew Harry, Dietmar Offenhuber, Orkan Telhan Stiff People's League - Molleindustria Faith Fighter - Volker Morawe & Tilman Reiff PainStation - Julian Oliver levelHead - Hannah Perner-Wilson & Mika Satomi Massage Me - Personal Cinema & the Erasers Folded in - Martin Pichlmair & Fares Kayali Bagatelle Concrete - Orna Portugaly, Daphna Talithman, Sharon Younger Jumping Rope - Marcin Ramocki & Justin Strawhand 8 bit. A Documentary About Art and Videogames - Rolando Sánchez Matari 69200 - Alex Sanjurjo Obstruir - serie Reiterar - Gordan Savicic Constraint City - Silver & True SellYourRoleX - Axel Stockburger Tokyo Arcade Warriors - Shibuya - Román Torre Life Floor - David Valentine/MediaShed The Duellists - William Wegman Two Dogs and Ball (Dogs Duet)

Curatorial team: Erich Berger, Chief Curator, LABoral Centro de Arte de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijón - Laura Baigorri, Independet Curator, Barcelona - Daphne Dragona, New Media Arts Curator, Athens



The Art of War videos are a part of Bichard's Violencia series: a conceptual framework set up to explore representational violence in contemporary culture, the relationship of the real / digital and the mechanisms of digital games through cross-media artworks. Initiated during Bichard's artist in residency at the Interactive Institute Art and Technology program in 2006.


Edwin Morris

Many thanks to Edwin for letting me use his superb music with my video footage. The sound tracks on all Art of War works are existing works by Edwin Morris, a London based artist and experimental musician with a dedicated following of audiophiles. His dark, reflective, minimal melodies and soundscapes leave an indelible impression on the listener, as an uneasy playfulness balances out nihilistic beauty with the sublime.. Discover more of Morris' work on his website.





Copyright © John Paul Bichard 2006-2007. Musical score copyright © Edwin Morris - All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means, nor stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the author with the exception of the case in which brief quotations embodied in information, articles, etc, and which are given appropriate credit. All content on this site is protected under copyright law.

e-mail john[at sign]idealmilk.com


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