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weblog archives
eXTReMe Tracker
Monday, October 17, 2005
One day we'll all wake up and everything will be an ARG. The rise of the ARG, or Alternate Reality Game (as utilised by a certain TV show, which has built on the concept of related spoof websites with hidden messages first seen in the publicity associated with Spielberg's AI) characterises contemporary media's ability to worm itself into every aspect of life. It also corresponds with the rise in the MMORG (don't you just love the acronmynisation of modern life?), immersive on-line worlds that are becoming so sophisticated that their economic developments are deemed worthy of academic study and their social structures entice players to spend more time online that off.

As concepts like social software become more advanced, and individuals, companies and mega-corporations all invest in building the digital structures that will underpin the storage, retrieval, delivery and interpretation of every kind of content, the gap between the ARG and the MMORG starts to disappear. Right now, there appear to be differences. On the one hand, ARGers seem to be outgoing, investigative types, the ones who thrill in the cross-pollination of reality and virtuality, and who relish the fresh opportunties (chiefly, it should be said, for entertainment) that it offers.

For example, consider an extreme itineration of the ARG concept, a company called Video and Adventure Services, who apparently create 'customised reality adventures', an art project that is either being strung out into a media hoax, or pushed outside the boundaries of the gallery and into the realm of big business. Ultimately, VAS has art school written all over it, the kind of meme created and dispersed as a way of seeing how it was interpreted by media coverage. Originally seen at wonderland and Wallo World, there was also a piece earlier in the year in the Guardian, 'Kidnapped. Then charged for the privilege'. But run a search, and you see that Tmn actually ran an interview with the main protagonist, Brock Enright, nearly three years ago, and Enright was apparently doing his shadowy stuff some six months earlier. Enright's website is Semagoediv, and the service he provides is called a 'Custom Reality Adventure').

So hunting the truth about Enright turns into a mini-ARG in itself, and we're no nearer discovering if the whole business is actually true. For now, ironically, it's the more completist and fictional world of the MMORG that offers its players certainty. Why, when there are even real salaries to be earned in virtual worlds, need reality encroach at all? Selectparks, which usually looks at the world of video games by artists, includes a recent link to this article entitled Videogame Aesthetics: We're All Going to Die!, looking at the various means of representation available to today's game designers. If there's one thing that will either create or crush the perhaps inevitable cultural slide into near-constant virtuality, it's aesthetics; might alternative worlds be so different, so appealing, that reality can no longer offer an alternative? Or might increased processing power offer new realms of artistry that can supplement and enhance the real world?

*

Other things. 'Italy's ageing Ape drivers face their first test'. Re-visited, an Ape gallery / New maps of national absence, on Jason Salavon's 'Homes for Sale' series at the excellent BLDG blog, recently linked by me-fi / Ed Bacon has died, see our earlier post / 15 minutes to listen and We Love 1997, mp3 logs / All about Nothing, a weblog linked to the Malanda art website. The emphasis is on optical illusions / Ortholog, a weblog / emulate a ZX Spectrum on your Sony Ericsson P900 / a collection of collective nouns.

Staten Island Boat Graveyard (via Boing Boing) / Panoramio (via gadgets.fosfor.se) organises your imagery on a global scale / John Peel was a hell of a man (via tmn, which also links these epic 80s sax solos and the Demise of the $.01 sign / experimental bands in the UK / photographs by David Gibson / New York City Transit VG Map, fusing flash and Google Maps for added functionality. Or coolness. Via plasticbag / The Making of a Home / the Panorama Factory / a burgeoning subculture: teasmades (another). See also Teasmaniacs (via haddock).

The Scottish Parliament wins the Stirling Prize, a brave, non-political choice inevitably flagged in news pieces by the sheer cost of the whole venture (or dismissed inelegantly as a 'turkey' by pundits who ultimately backed the wrong horse) / immerse yourself in the complex world of the British aristocracy with Debrett's Correct forms of address.