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'Culture as Play' at Microwave Festival

Play is fun and fascinating for people of all ages. What does “play” mean today? Where does “game” meet “art”? What is the relationship between the play world and the real physical world?

The answers may be found at the "Microwave International Media Art Festival 2005", an annual event emphasising the interaction of creativity and theoretical reflection, which opened today (October 20) at the Hong Kong City Hall.

Officiating at the opening ceremony were the Chief Manager (Film and Cultural Exchange) of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department Mr Albert Lee, Chairman (Film and Media Art Committee) of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council director Johnny To, Director of the Goethe-Institut Hongkong Mr Michael Muller-Verweyen, Consul General of Austria Dr Maria Moya-Goetsch, Professor of the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong Dr Liu Zhiqiang, Artistic Director of the Microwave Company Limited Dr Hector Rodriguez, and Vice-chairman of Videotage Mr Hung Keung.

Under the theme of “Culture as Play”, various media art works are organised to stimulate thoughts related to games, playfulness and technological and social aspects arising out of games and play.

Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and co-organised by Microwave Company Limited and Videotage, the festival will be held at various venues from now to November 2, featuring exhibitions, video screenings, conferences, workshop, music performance and a round table seminar. It provides an opportunity for overseas and local media artists and enthusiasts to share their experiences.

Eleven interesting installation works created by renowned international and local artists are on display at the Exhibition Hall of the Hong Kong City Hall.

Not to be missed is the “I See Where You Are ‘In Central’”, an exciting project created by local artists Linda Lai, Justin Wong, Alan Fong and Bryan Chung, which integrates online game from virtual sphere with public space of the real world. A street player and an on-line partner have to co-operate to search for a “secret point” in Central. The artists will give a live demonstration at 2.30pm on October 29 and 30.

Ever lose in a game? In the game “PainStation2.5” created by German artist group “Fur”, players feel pain on their hands when they miss a ball. In the work “(T)Error”, Austrian artist Robert Praxmarer uses games as a platform to criticise world politics, with players slipping into the roles of world leaders.

American artist Mary Flanagan’s “Domestic” explores personal memories and spaces in a 3D computer game environment while Paul Johnson’s video game “RGB” is built from three inter-connected game consoles.

Four interactive installations are also on display at the Exhibition Hall of the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA). They are Swedish artist Tobias Bernstrup’s “XSEED4000”, American artist Victor Liu’s “Tank and Supertank and Mutant and Berserk”; two local artworks: Nick Foxall’s “HandHeld” which explores the narrative possibilities of moving image and sound by handheld device and Eric Siu’s “Face Hack” capturing the player’s face in real time and attaches it to the body of a film character.

There will also be a music performance at 6.45pm at the HKFA tomorrow (October 21) by Nerve. Admission for the exhibitions and the music performance is free.

Another highlight is the "International Video Screenings" from tomorrow (October 21) to Sunday (October 23) at the Cinema of the HKFA. A series of dazzling programmes will be launched under five themes: "Precarious Play", "Just for Fun: Play is Fabrication", "Let’s Pretend: Shall We Begin?”, "Machinery of the Everyday" and "Meaningful Play".

The first video “The Basement Boy Hardcore Series: Psytrance Sucks” in the series “Just for Fun: Play is Fabrication” to be screened at 7:30pm on Saturday (October 22) is classified as a Category III film. Ticket holders under 18 can choose to watch the remaining programme after the screening of this video or they can have a postal refund at the Box Office of the HKFA or by calling 2734 2900 on or before October 23 for refund arrangement.

For video screenings, tickets priced at $30 per screening are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Recipients. Reservations can be made at 2734 9009.

Media artists, scholars and game developers are invited to join the conferences at the Lecture Hall No.9, City University of Hong Kong on Saturday (October 22). They can share their views on how “play” and “game” are related to the development of technology, media, art, culture and society. The conferences will be conducted in English. For reservation, please call 8206 0240.

German artist Niklas Roy will hold a workshop on Sunday (October 23) and next Tuesday (October 25) at Videotage to share his experience in creating “Pongmechanik” which is an electromechanical conversion of the classical game “Pong”. It was exhibited at various international art festivals and nominated for the Transmediale Award and will be displayed at the Exhibition Hall of the Hong Kong City Hall during the festival period. The workshop will be conducted in English and the course fee is $450. For registration, please call 2573 1869.

A round table seminar “When Technology Meets Experiences: Media Art As Play” will be held on October 24 at Goethe-Gallery, Geothe-Institut Hongkong. The speakers include Hung Keung, Volker Morawe & Tilman Reiff. The seminar will be conducted in English.

For programme details, please refer to booklets distributed at LCSD performing venues or call 8206 0240, 2734 2900, or visit , .

Ends/Thursday, October 20, 2005
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