Where games meet art ―and science

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Where games meet art ―and science

Slipping beneath yellow tape that blocks the entrance to the office room of a famous physics professor, you enter the site of a mock crime scene. You then become a detective, and examine the clues in the room to find out why the professor has been murdered. Along the way, you learn about the scientific methods involved in analyzing such clues.
This is one of the exhibitions now at the Insa Art Center in Insa-dong under the theme “My Name Is Game.” Surprisingly, the exhibition is directed by a scientist, not an artist. Wohn Kwang-yun, a computer science professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, was the brain behind the exhibit, which fuses science with art.
“Games, unlike the opera or theater, are a part of our culture, but are not considered refined. Nonetheless, they are becoming a more important aspect of our lives,” Mr. Wohn said. “Through interaction between science and the arts, we can discover new viewpoints, since people working in the two areas have different perspectives.”
Indeed, many of the exhibits put technology to creative use. “Healing,” a project by Brian Knapp, is one. Mr. Knapp was a computer programmer for about 10 years; his special effects work on the movie “Jurassic Park” won an Academy Award. Now he’s created a carpet whose patterns change when someone walks over it. “The pattern grows back, but it’s not exactly the same. It means that interaction creates changes, and afterwards, things seem to go back to normal, but not completely,” Mr. Knapp said.
In another project, by a team from Ewha Womans University, if you carry a white umbrella down a certain path, digital “rain” falls, splashing the umbrella with different colors and patterns.
About 150 Korean and foreign artists and scientists participated in 36 individual or joint projects in the exhibition. While some of the exhibits involve complicated computer programming and high-tech equipment, some focus more on the “analog” features of games.
The game baduk is normally played by two players, each of whom plays with black or white stones. A new version at the exhibition, however, has stones of two more colors, light and dark gray. “There are no rules on how four people are supposed to play the game. The players have to make up their own rules,” the artist explained. On the other side of the room is a gigantic game of Tetris as reinterpreted by Romy Achituv, an Israeli artist.
Game developers currently doing business in the market are not participating in the exhibition. “The game industry is still very immature, in a sense, in that they are too busy earning money yet to be interested in more macro aspects of game culture, or the impact of games on the environment,” Mr. Wohn believes.
The exhibition continues until August 22.

by Wohn Dong-hee

To reach Insa Art Center, take subway line No. 3 to Anguk station, enter the Insa-dong main street and walk about two minutes; the center will be on your right. For more information, call (02) 736-1020 or go to the Korean-language site www.sciart.or.kr.
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