Singapore Art Museum (SAM) launches Open Systems (OS), its first dedicated initiative exploring technology and virtual spaces as sites for exhibition and art production, focused on the examination of the impacts of contemporary digital culture on creative expression. OS presents online exhibitions, interventions and virtual programmes where the sites of their production—video games, creative code, the browser—serve as the locus for both artistic expression and inquiry.
From May 4 to August 10, 2023, audiences are invited to reimagine the metaverse through Open Systems 1_Open Worlds (OS1) at opensystems.sg, a browser-based art experience exploring the dynamics between real and virtual realms. Bringing together artists and thinkers who imagine scenarios challenging logics of enclosure, privatisation, and artificial scarcity imposed on virtual realms, OS1 maps the inequities that transfer between lived and digital realms, positing that video games, game engines and virtual environments may function as sites to rehearse alternative and novel modes of social, political, and spatial organisation.
Unfolding across six thematic chapters fortnightly, the artworks presented in OS1 seek to reframe virtual spaces as sites for practicing alternative modes of organisation within society, from the shared reality of global financial systems and major cities to the multiplicity of personal interactions and individual expression. As the boundaries between real and virtual spaces continue to degrade—another opening of worlds—interventions in virtual realities increasingly reflect upon our physical realities, for worse and for better. OS1 opens possibilities of reimagining our shared spaces, investigating a world that is no longer a niche pastime.
Alice Bucknell, Lawrence Lek, and Bahar Noorizadeh, Rudá Babau & Waste Paper Opera (Klara Kofen, James Oldham, Gary Zhexi Zhang, Anna Palmer)
Through satirical storytelling and science-fiction narratives, Virtual Capital demonstrates how virtual cultures simultaneously reflect and react to tangible impacts on real, lived experiences.
Cat Bluemke, Joshua Citarella & Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman, and Mario Mu
Exploring video games as unexpected sites for collective action and organisation, WoW, Unite! considers labour rights issues, exploitation, and organisational conditions in the video game industry.
OS1.3_Landscapes of the Political Imaginary
Zheng Mahler, Shabtai Pinchevsky, and Firas Shehadeh
Through the concept of the nation-state as constructed by both physical environments and the collective imagination, viewers are invited to reassess their understanding of video games in Landscapes of the Political Imaginary and the underlying assumptions that are built into their virtual landscapes.
Yeyoon Avis Ann & George Chua, Grayson Earle, and Clemens von Wedemeyer
Focusing on the ubiquitous nature of violence in video games, Unrealpolitik unpacks the societal tensions and assumed neutrality of ideologies embedded in gaming software while highlighting the potential for intervention and political resistance in gamified environments.
Antoine Chapon, Hayoun Kwon, and Total Refusal
Subverting stereotypical perceptions of violence often associated with video games by expanding on sites of conflict as liminal spaces, Dematerialised Zones illustrates how virtual spaces can serve as sites of healing.
Kara Güt, Sara Sadik, and Xáfier Yap
Intimate Encounters reflects on notions of nurturing one’s identity and intimacy within virtual spaces by drawing on old-school aesthetics, comparing character development in role-playing games to processes of personal identity construction.
A series of accompanying programmes featuring artists and collaborators titled OS Broadcasts will be hosted on the popular live-streaming platform, Twitch, and broadcasts of prior programmes can also be found on the Open Systems platform.