19 JUNE - 4 OCTOBER 2009

WoW: Emergent Media Phenomenon explores various forms of cultural production based on World of Warcraft, in particular and on gaming in general. While surveying Warcraft’s Fifteen-year history, the exhibition looks at artistic practices that have been influenced by game culture. The actual works by the producer of World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment (headquartered in Irvine, California), provide a starting point and reference.

Fourteen international artists were selected to consider this movement with the following themes in mind: elements of desire, the collapse of fantasy, medievalism, creative critiques, and public intervention. Artists in this exhibition take on the visual marker of World of Warcraft to consider, implications of gaming, and their greater impact on our culture. In addition to the works of these artists, fan art and the growing culture of machinima (computer animation that uses the graphic engines from video games) will be explored in this exhibition.

Gaming is a movement that encompasses a large population and holds the potential to greatly impact society. Jane McGonigal, a game designer and researcher, states, “This is a new generation of hard-core gamers, and what they’re doing is generating unprecedented participation bandwidth. They are donating more cognitive cycles, more heart share to game worlds and virtual worlds than we’ve seen dedicated to any project before.” The artists in this exhibition have extended these concerns.

The exhibition is curated by Grace Kook-Anderson and is accompanied by a booklet published by Laguna Art Museum. As part of the exhibition, you’ll receive a booklet featuring essays by the curator; participating artist, Eddo Stern; and the curator at Blizzard Entertainment, Tim Campbell.

Participating artists: selected artists from Blizzard Entertainment, including Chris Metzen, Sam Didier (a.k.a., Samwise), Chris Robinson, Justin Thavirat, and Roman Kenney (all from Irvine); Aram Bartholl (Berlin); Jorg Dubin (Laguna Beach); Alexander Galloway (New York); Jacqueline Goss (New York); Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn, Tale of Tales (Ghent, Belgium); John Klima (Lisbon, Portugal); Cyril Kuhn (Los Angeles); Antoinette LaFarge (Irvine); Mashallah Design and Linda Kostowski (Berlin); Robert Nideffer and Alex Szeto (Irvine); Airyka Rockefeller (San Francisco); Eddo Stern (Los Angeles); The Third Faction (Azeroth); and Zeng Han (Guangzhou)


Sunday, June 14 at 1:00 PM
Zeng Han is a photographer based in Guangzhou, China who has just completed a semester at School of Visual Arts in New York. Zeng will be discussing the concept of “soulstealers” in his work.

Saturday, July 11 at 1:00 PM
Aram Bartholl’s WoW workshop will be held the day before his lecture. Bartholl will extend the project shown in the exhibition out onto the streets of Laguna Beach. Everyone is welcome to participate and enjoy an afternoon of art making and have the opportunity to be involved in a collaborative performance. The workshop and performance will be documented on video, and the edited version will be shown in the exhibition.

Sunday, July 12 at 1:00 PM
Aram Bartholl, based in Berlin, is interested in the way network data manifests into the everyday world. Bartholl investigates this in the physical space through performance, installation, and video. With World of Warcraft, Bartholl investigates this manifestation through the one of the most popular online role-playing games.

Sunday, July 26 at 1:00 PM
Jacqueline Goss, based in New York, creates film and video in order to explore the ways we think about ourselves through systemic machines, like politics, culture, and science. Goss will talk about her work in game space, animation, and the documentary form.

Sunday, August 16 at 1:00 PM
Robert Nideffer, “Playing with Bosch”
Robert Nideffer, based in Irvine, will compare the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch that illustrate fantasy with religious narratives with the images in World of Warcraft.

Sunday, September 13 at 1:00 PM
Antoinette LaFarge, based in Long Beach, questions the mode of fiction through performance, digital media, games, and writing. In this way, LaFarge looks at World of Warcraft and other role-playing games as one way of constructing a fictional narrative.

Thursday, October 1, UC Irvine, TBA
This forum will include artists Antoinette LaFarge, Robert Nideffer, Eddo Stern, and Jeff Chamberlain, the cinematics project lead at Blizzard Entertainment. The forum will be moderated by the associate director at UCI’s Beall Center for Art and Technology, David Familian.

/hug is a project of The Third Faction Collective: Third Faction is an affiliation of geographically dispersed entities with a collective interest in exposing binary systems in synthetic environments. via in-world performances, the collective operates simultaneously across various platforms including World of Warcraft and Second Life. the collective includes: Thomas Asmuth (MyriamMoore), Mez Breeze (BowwToxx), John Pierre Bruneau (Cretivcowman), Jenene Castle (Mohana), Steve Durie (Tookis), Kyung Lee (Sootso), James Morgan (Deaxter), Ali Sajjadi (Layli), and Liz Solo (Sliz). Third Faction members question the politics, allegiances, and narrative conventions of Synthetic Worlds. the cross-factional collective officially formed in World of Warcraft on valentine’s day 2008 in a self-declared temporary autonomous zone.