Sep 10 - Oct 9, 1999
7-10PM

Game Girls

Judy Cheung, Paula Gignac, Nancy Paterson, Cheryl Sourkes and Carla J. Wolf. Curated by Kathleen Pirrie Adams

Game Girls is an exhibition of interactive installations, CD-ROMs and video projections that play fast and loose with the usual rules of the game. Using shooting gallery, arcade kiosk and computer game structures as a basis for their work, each artist offers a highly individual answer to the games industry's "holy grail" question: What games do girls want to play?

The works in the exhibition are subtle machines that dramatize psychological states and analyze social situations and selves. Beginning with an irreverent and often ironic attitude towards the accepted definition of a game as "a contest among adversaries pursuing a win, victory or pay off," each work raises broader, more encompassing questions about such things as how the body relates to machine knowledge, how the culture secures its core values and how chance influences information systems.

Game Girls is an exploration of gender-inflected understandings of game playing – its culture, its logic and its pleasures. By examining game play from within the realm of art, the show offers us the opportunity to imagine patterns and structures other than those already made familiar by the games industry. It varies the attention-holding patterns and encourages us to expect compelling and enlivening experiences at the intersection of analysis and play.

Artists and works in the exhibition include:

Judy Cheung’s Blood Vial project uses the principles of game theory (as used in behavioural studies) to analyze the mass-media spectacle of the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Blood Vial is a CD-ROM installation that allows the audience to both witness the spectacle and contribute to the processing and manipulation of data.

Cheung is an artist, teacher and commercial photographer who uses photography, video, film, and digital and electronic technology to reflect and critique contemporary social conditions. She received her BFA from the University of Calgary, and her MFA from Pratt Institute (NYC). She has recently been a resident at the Banff Centre and Artist in Residence at EM Media, Calgary.

Paula Gignac's piece, Glove, evokes both the amusement arcade and the spectre of deception. An electronic fortune-telling device that incorporates an immersive hand mould, Glove delivers each player codified pieces of a possible sexual-abuse scenario. It offers a subtle comment on memory and the marks of experience, and questions the machine-readability of flesh.

Gignac is a writer, artist and consultant who recently married her three career loves in the chapel of the digital church. She has written for magazines as diverse as Fuse and Flare, won a Studio magazine award for her photography, co-directed the short film Excess Is What I Came For and is currently the Web Business Manager for Chatelaine Connects, Chatelaine magazine's mega website.

Nancy Paterson's Das Ist Meine Neue Freundin is a shooting-gallery installation that brings together real and ideal versions of gunplay. Superhero Lara Croft appears alongside used shooting-range targets and rewired toy weapons, to draw attention to the interplay of pleasure and destruction.

Paterson has been working with new electronic media for over a decade and is best known for her Bicycle TV, The Stock Market Skirt and The Machine in the Garden. She has exhibited internationally at SIGGRAPH, Ars Electronica and Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City, and throughout Canada and the US. Her work has been published or reviewed in Leonardo, Flash Art, Harper's Bazaar, Shift, Parachute and The New York Times.

Cheryl Sourkes' video installation piece ready or not... exposes the machinations of a lesbian avatar couple who play hard in their attempt to establish symmetry while being buffeted by impulses pulling them out of the dyad. A large emoticon face with an erratic series of relentlessly changing expressions is projected above their small striving bodies as the tune "I Would Do Anything for You" plays on.

Sourkes is an artist, curator and writer. Her work has been exhibited nationally in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Quebec City, London and Toronto, and internationally in France, Italy, Germany, England and the US. She serves as curator of independent projects and as editor of visual arts for Tessara, a journal of feminist philosophy.

Carla J. Wolf's Would you rather be a Cyborg? takes a playful journey through the everyday hell of being female in the big city. A CD-ROM installation surrounded by videos and slide projections, telephones and typewriters, the piece questions the generalized information about women and technology by presenting images of some of the thousands of women that have made their livings as operators, assembly-line workers, typists and stenographers.

Wolf is a video and new media artist whose work has been exhibited in Canada, the US and Europe. Discovering where the mechanical begins to make meaning, how viewership evolves in relation to new media, and how gender and sexuality are read through these media are the central themes of her work.

Game Girls is curated by Kathleen Pirrie Adams. Pirrie Adams is a curator and writer who focuses on experimental film and video, new media art, popular music and the history of sexuality. She has published in Fuse, Alphabet City, Rungh, Xtra!, Coil and Mix and is working on a book entitled Pornapology: Explicit Imagery in Contemporary Art. Also an occasional filmmaker, she has directed Close Watch and Venus Church and co-directed Excess Is What I Came For.

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