Porpentine Charity Heartscape on Experiment and Exploration

Porpentine Charity Heartscape on Experiment and Exploration

Laura Belik on the Arts + Design Wednesdays @ BAMPFA | Experiment and Exploration talk with Porpentine Charity Heartscape on April 18, 2018.

Porpentine Charity Heartscape’s works show us how open and collaborative video games can be. Their role as a designer, programmer, curator, and writer is an example of the broad spectrum of reach the game media has, and that the creative process comes both from the idealizers but the users as well.

PCH“Simplicity” is an important aspect of Porpentine Charity Heartscape’s process. They exemplified their point to the audience showing a simple Atari-like game, where the user creates their own characters and goals within that one particular limited given setting. The limitations, as they explain, are what motivate innovative ideas, and that is precisely what Heartscape tries to explore. The “tile-based maps” of video games, for example, are versions of a concise world in which stories will take place. The world of games is a system, and by being small and limited the challenge is to work within its boundaries.

The emphasis on the story is a key element to be taken into consideration. Nevertheless, the narrative is never fully formed and, as the designer points out, the player is active in the making of it as well. While certain elements are previously fixed, others are established by the user. The difference is not only between the games their selves but depend on each players’ personality and strategy. What we often fail to recognize is that each game is only different from the other because of the different players that interact with it; the difference is not in the game, “the difference is on you”, Heartscape emphasized. “The human imagination is the greatest canvas, so they say…”

The designer also has their work shown in museums and galleries globally. Their installations combine the virtual and physical world where interactive digital elements also have a specific relation to sound and space. “Games are my way of making dark rooms. There is something calming about those spaces”, they added. Reflecting on how this world is different from the digital platforms, and how expensive many art projects are, Heartscape states that their creative process doesn’t necessarily need that: “In 99% of my projects I don’t spend anything but my own time”. The digital also allowed them to start their works and aesthetics as just a personal project, that ended up growing and gaining an audience that resonated with their concepts. “At first I would just make it for me. Then people found out about it. I don’t necessarily have a targeted audience, but through time, I feel that I have some people around that share the same characteristics with me.”

Lauren Belik (PhD Student, Architecture) reviewed the April 18, 2018 talk with Porpentine Charity Heartscape, part of the Spring 2018 Arts + Design Wednesdays @ BAMPFA series. To learn more about the series, see below:

Arts + Design Wednesdays @ BAMPFA: Experiment and Exploration. This series explores the exciting world of the Bay Area’s alternative, underground, and experimental media arts communities and the ways they have transformed contemporary art and media culture. Led by UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Film and Media Jeffrey Skoller, the series engages prominent media artists, curators, and critics to explore the idea of experimentalism in art as a risk-taking approach to creative expression and as a philosophical position that emphasizes art as process and invention over product and professional mastery.

Arts + Design Wednesdays @ BAMPFA is organized and sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Arts + Design Initiative in partnership with Big Ideas courses. In-kind support is provided by BAMPFA. Learn more here.