Thessaloniki, November 2016

“Wow! This is better than my X-Box!”

Enter the Game, “aqua polis - ancient evening sight sea ing” (work in progress) by Andriana Daouti (photo: DeClick)
Enter the Game, “aqua polis – ancient evening sight sea ing” (work in progress) by Andriana Daouti (photo: DeClick)
A 12-year old boy’s enthusiastic proclamation as, suspended in the air, he was experiencing Adriana Daouti’s work “aqua polis – ancient evening sight sea ing”, presented in “Enter the Game”, one of the projects featured in Helexpo’s Art, Science and Technology Festival 2016.

Video game as a contemporary art

This first of three editions within the context of Artecitya included four projects: “Amanda” – socially aware virtual reality game against bullying, winner of the 1st Prize in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2016 competition; “Enter the Game” – a selection of art works appropriating the gaming format created by students of the MA programme “Art, Virtual Reality and versatile artistic expression systems” run by the Athens School of Fine Arts and Université Paris 8; “AURA – Advanced Urban Responsive Art” – a preview of a concept to be developed for the coming editions of the festival; and finally the hugely successful E-Gaming event, hosted by Helexpo since 2012 – the largest gaming event in the Balkans, with more than 10.000 visitors, most of them between 15 to 30 years old.hugely successful E-Gaming event, hosted by Helexpo since 2012 – the largest gaming event in the Balkans, with more than 10.000 visitors, most of them between 15 to 30 years old.

AURA project (photo: DeClick)
AURA project (photo: DeClick)
Enter the Game (photo: DeClick)
Enter the Game (photo: DeClick)

Using gaming as a common ground, the Festival successfully reached out to the -mostly young- gamers who were not interested in responding to the question “is this art?”, but threw themselves into experiencing the actual works. The barrier has been broken. This year’s approach was inspired by Jane McGonigal (Director of Games Research and Development at the Institute for the Future) and her theory on the talents of Gamers, that if applied in the real world, could have significant impact on the improvement of society. 

The leap from Artecitya’s “art for social change” focus to what could become a “gaming for social change” movement in Thessaloniki is not as huge as it may seem. The possibility for social change is inherent into all three fields that the Festival investigates – art, science and technology. 
Amanda project (photo: DeClick)
Amanda project (photo: DeClick)
Enter the Game, installation view (special presentation for the arts community; photo: DeClic)
Enter the Game, installation view (special presentation for the arts community; photo: DeClic)
Amanda project (photo: DeClick)
Amanda project (photo: DeClick)
Overall, the Festival’s programme goes beyond the established boundaries between the three sectors, boundaries that in any case have largely been expanded. The main goal of the Art, Science and Technology Festival of Artecitya by Helexpo is to investigate whether and how the “art for social change” model can be applied in technological applications –as e-gaming and virtual or augmented reality– with the ultimate goal to empower the participants to build a better world.