The end of the last century was marked by ubiquitous domestication of digital devices. Pictures and music, stacked in 8bit packets of information, captured the world and formed peculiar aesthetics. And now, our hearts brim with warmth of nostalgia any time we meet something that has a similar encryption code, even if it only imitates the outlines.
The 8bit world playfully captured us through Pokémons, Tetris, and Mario. Some iconic institutions, such as MoMA, have included these games in their permanent collections. The virtual world, where a princess is saved from captivity in a castle or tanks are fighting on battlefields, has ceased to be just a game for us. It has become an integral part of our everyday life.
In parallel with these processes, which were superficial back then and are fundamental now, the game, as interpreted by the Norwegian philosopher Johan Huizinga, is disappearing from our society. The game for Huizinga is that irrational, subtle boundary between competition, myth, science, faith, law, military affairs, and other social vertical phenomena that one had to imagine first in order to construct. The Homo Ludens ceases to be, and the rational, with its rhetoric of perception of the world and actions, starts to dominate, putting aside the paradigm of "frivolity," an almost comic attitude to reality. Huizinga believed that the element of the game still remains in poetry, and we believe that contemporary art is a myth-making process in the broad sense – an attempt to involve the world in playing a game, force it to step back from the rational and look irrationally, from outside, at what is happening.
ARTBAT FEST 8 offers artists and viewers to interpret the body of the city as a playing space and the disappearance thereof. Participants of the festival play with the city and with each other. Breaking away from the rational perception of the world, they are trying to create a "playground" for the viewer. In it, both participants and viewers could reflect on the current functioning of the game and on what games today form a crucial element, which was once inseparable from the formation of almost all social processes.
At the end of the 20th century, we played computer games built on 8bit graphics, and 8bit music came from speakers. The 8bit world responds with a romanticized nostalgia for the beginning of the era of computers and robots. Can we take these technological changes as the basis for a new big game? Is there a competitive component in Counter Strike and what is the uniqueness of the biological machine as compared to the electronic computer? It seems that the difference lies in generating ideas, but aren't these processes mechanized as well?
The new ARTBAT FEST festival wants to talk with you about the fact that life is a game programmed by us for us and with the participation of ourselves. We should not take it too seriously, although it certainly should be taken seriously.