Barcelona 2002 Colloquium

--{ Barcelona 2002 }--

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Board Games in Academia V


Tony Bloom

Gameboards as Sculpture - an Artist's Approach

As a counterpoint to the rules and strategies of games play, the visual, material, and audible aspects of games are what engage me as a sculptor. I draw inspiration from games in various cultures and various times, utilizing references to the natural, the historic, the intellectual, the ecclesiastical, the mysterious, and the emotive. How the gameboards, pieces, determinants (dice, spinners, etc.) and tally boards present themselves and how they are transposed into our culture is what intrigues me. How I incorporate them into my sculpture is what challenges me.

The visual aspect is both engaging and compelling. The movement away from the organic to the geometric or hierarchic array is one of the pivotal points of games development, as is the experimentation with symmetry, sequence, colour, and patterning. The materials from which the boards and pieces are made are critical to the appeal or engagement of the game. Moving a gold or ivory marker "feels" different than moving a wooden one -- therefore it is different. (As well, the material makeup of the games and pieces determine whether they endure for future generations to know of and study them.) The sounds associated with the pieces being manipulated or the game being played also contributes to the "theatre" of the game. The "clack-clack" of Backgammon pieces, the hiss of the sticks in American Indian Ka-tande games, or the slamming of the pieces in a Mah Jong parlor all are factors integral to the playing of the game and the mindset of the players and audience. And all are in mind when I am developing sculpture based on games.

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