yasmin chopin | Art and games at Wysing
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Art and games at Wysing

Wysing Arts Centre Cambridgeshire hut meadow 1100x

Art and games at Wysing

Farmers struggle to bale hay in clouds of yellow dust kicked up by a warm wind from the continent. It is July, a record-breaking month, dry and blisteringly hot. I sit in an airy barn at the Wysing Arts Centre in the heart of rural Cambridgeshire with a dozen other curious artists. We talk about imagined places. Rachael Rosen is in residence here and during a half-day workshop we participate in developing virtual worlds based on a mind map of Wysing.

Rachel Rosen art gaming fiction installation Wysing Cambridgeshire 1100x

Wysing Arts Centre, near Cambridge, aims to provide alternative environments and structures for artistic research, experimentation, discovery and production.

The project, (I have to call it a project for it has no commercial name yet), is a real-time game played and presented as performance art. It is supported by digital art, images and sounds. Rachael hopes to complete her project sometime in the Spring of 2019. It began unexpectedly with a tweet nearly five years ago. When she posed a question which went something like this: ‘If you come across a portal and don’t know what is on the other side, do you go through and find out, or not?’ The person who answered the question on Twitter responded in such a way that Rachael could not resist bouncing back with another question. The conversation continued… and continued. And something has grown out of it – a new art form.

Rachel Rosen classroom activity at Wysing Arts Centre Cambridgeshire 1100x

Rachael Rosen is a sound and visual artist. See Portals (Quantum Natives) produced by Workflow.

I remember the game-books my twelve-year-old son read by the light of a torch back in the early nineties when he should have been asleep; he would make a choice which could send him back a couple of chapters or forward; it was interactive fiction. Rachael takes this idea further by using text-based worlds and hyperlinks but the crucial difference is that the player becomes part of the storytelling. No two performances or ‘games’ will be the same. It can be ‘played’ in private or in public, individually or as a group. This art form has no definitive description; it crosses boundaries in space, time and place. I am signed up to continue as a game-testing guinea pig. My next session is a one-to-one event hosted by Rachael in her pOrtals world and for this I will participate from home. I might devise my own rural idyll in which the harvest is healthy and abundant and the business of bringing it in effortless.

Rachel Rosen left with participants at Wysing Cambridgeshire 1100x

This project makes its public debut in 2019. Join my mailing list, don’t miss the date.