Bro Gaming: A Place for Virtual Vibes
By Nicole Martinez & Diego Saldana
Last weekend’s III Points festival celebrated music, art and technology and Tropicult was there to check out one satellite event that brought the three points of the festival into one cohesive and nostalgia-inducing event: Bro-gaming (presented by eMerge Americas). Held at the Hangar Gallery, the modestly-sized arcade lounge welcomed a wandering hip crowd raised with memories of the video games they whooped everyone’s ass in. From Atari joysticks, Sega Genesis, and Super Nintendo to the more modern consoles from Playstation and Xbox, anyone could pick up a controller, hop on a game, and talk smack with friends and strangers alike. Providing libations to get your competitive and playful spirit going, the set-up involved TVs lined up along two rows with couches to chill and enjoy a gaming variety that seemed to highlight the old-school.
After wetting my whistle, I came by the Bro-gaming event and as soon as I walked in, I felt the marvel of what it was like to be 7 and getting my first Super Nintendo and spending summers off behind 8-bit graphics and the dreaded AOL dial-up page. Maybe this explains why I felt like handling the joystick of an Atari and playing **Space Invaders** appeared more oppressively difficult than it needed to be. Sadly, it appeared that the Atari didn’t hit the target in passing the test of time with a barely-responding controller that I soon abandoned. Did you know “Atari” is a Japanese verb meaning “to hit the target”? Take a second to chuckle about that. Besides that, the lounge was buzzing with the simple tones and beeps of the earlier generation games and complex melodies of their contemporaries, creating a vibe that let people feel positive and entertained while keeping things light–We can all recall memories of heated discussions during Madden, Call of Duty, or even Mario Kart 64.
Tropicult wasn’t the only one revealing in 8, 16, 24, 32 or 64 bit glory. It’s seemed that local Tennison Zuniga’s smile was held up every time a duck would fall to its death after being shot by a gray and red plastic gun. We quickly spoke about Duck Hunt and how I would never forgive my mother for giving away a NES I once owned. The 31-year-old brand manager kept smiling as he reminisced about growing up immersed in a video game culture. Born and raised in Hialeah, Zuniga became a self-proclaimed semi-pro at arcade “Street Fighter” and would frequent his neighbor’s house who had a Sega console versus the Nintendo console he owned.
“We would just be at each other’s houses all the time and we would play for hours on end. It was Mario just as much as Sonic. Sonic just as much the next thing that was coming along” Zuniga said.
Smiles, nostalgia and reminiscing aside, Zuniga acknowledges and admires the great advances in video gaming from his early days of digitally grappling and air kicking.
“Now it’s turned into something completely radical and it’s definitely exciting to say the least.”
Radical and exciting are the two words that best describe this activation’s most interesting exhibit- an album. Without any formal training in computing, musician, game engine dabbler and South Florida TV station employee; Julian Reyes, created “FindrLocal”. Neither entirely video game nor musical album, Reyes’s fusion of his own music and graphics is something entirely in its own category.
“I really had this idea where I wanted to make my music interactive and actually create a space. At its core, beyond it being a video game, it’s an album. It’s putting the music before the actual video game.”
Using Abelton Live, Unreal development Kit; a free game design engine; and YouTube tutorials, Reyes created an interactive piece of audiovisual media.
The games layout is based on the inner workings of a computer. Users start in one environment and ‘win’ by discovering new rooms or locations within the environment that contain ‘tracks’ to this ‘album’. The use of quotes is not to demean the product, but instead to denote what its creator labels them and so that anyone who pays money for Findr Local after this article doesn’t get pissed when they don’t get a record in the mail or receive a download link versus a shipping receipt. Whoever put on the headphones, picked up the keyboard and tilted their heads upwards towards the screen, usually had their mouths open in awe as well.
“The music itself is a reflection of being on a computer many hours a day. Each room is based on different components of a computer. You have a RAM room and a CPU room. It’s in essence a computer level within a video game if that makes sense.”
From the gameplay I observed and the spacey out of body visuals the trailer has, Findr Local doesn’t make sense. And that is exactly why I am ordering a copy. The evening ended relatively smoothly with the organizer having to tell the patrons that they were closing only four times. Game on!
Throwing Shade In The Sunshine State
FAAM’s Street Art & Tech Panel Discussion
Day 1 of III Points already kicked off with happy hour, video-gaming, and an excellent night of music at Soho Studios. I was hung over and exhausted, but now I had to rally my mental faculties and attend a “Street Art and Technology” panel discussion presented by Fine Arts Auction Miami and iii Points. Hosted by FAAM’s “Street Artist Specialist” Sebastien Laboureau, the panel was comprised of David Lombardi (President of Lombardi Properties), Bernard Markowicz of Markowicz Fine Art, and Miami-based street artist Abstrk. At first glance, it held some promise. Street art has played its part in putting Wynwood on the map.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be a hardly novel and otherwise masturbatory discussion about street art within the context of the art world and its impact on the Wynwood community. I was less than impressed.
Buckle up, ‘cuz this one’s a doozy.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know something about the increasing hype about street art in Miami, particularly Wynwood. After the panel discussion, it quickly became evident that the underlying message was how to profit from street art. Under the guise of lofty ideals like development and progression, the panel of “specialists” appeared to be in agreement that street art, is developing into “one of the most exciting and profitable sectors of the art market”.
Is it just me or does that leave a bad taste in your mouth? The discussion touched upon commercialization of street art as a way to “diversify and enrich the local art market” and “promoting emerging and established talent,” but what did that really mean? Sure, bringing the global spotlight to local artists would contribute to the rise of Wynwood as “a street art Mecca” but there are unconvincing fundamental principles at play here.
For instance, who was the street art specialist offered by the event? What makes him a “specialist” (or even a credible source for that matter) and what is the justification behind “street art appraisals?” How can you pilfer art that was painted or bombed on the side of a building and stick a price tag on it for some asshole art collector to have in their luxurious home? Street art does not belong in a gallery, it belongs in its natural habitat, the streets. Not only did the discussion fail to provide a working definition of street art, it also made no effort to acknowledge how street art is an ever-evolving phenomenon that can lose its essence and artistic message once systematized. Perhaps my abrasiveness on the subject comes from a place of unintended ignorance or naivete but had I known that the panel discussion was going to be one-sided and narrow in its message, I would not have even bothered attending.
Despite a disagreement in fundamental principles related to street art, I do believe that good can be done when discussing street art within the context of the art world–so long as you keep it grounded. Immortalizing legendary pieces of street art is essential to the progression of a culturally-conscious city like ours. Open platforms for artists to exchange ideas and works inspires creativity, which permeates every fiber of urban life – but this should not be contingent on the profitable nature or commercial appeal of a particular medium. Street art always has and always will be a visual narrative that delivers much needed social and political commentary to the community surrounding it, whether it’s cool or not.
The only redeeming moment (aside from the subsequent happy hour and a full day of activities that didn’t boil my blood) was when David Lombardi and Abstrkt offered how they’ve given back to the community by funding after-school art initiatives and providing lectures on art education to students from inner-city schools.
All personal qualms aside, I think it would be interesting for iii Points to provide a more insightful discussion next year that included more local artists to voice their opinions and offer a more balanced, if even controversial, platform. If iii Points intends on establishing a brand that celebrates local artists and showcases them, I think it would behoove them to find common ground with a skeptical community who wishes to see the preservation of local treasures and perhaps move away from targeting a high-brow crowd. Final thoughts? Cultural and urban development will flourish and make lasting impressions when we stop trying to put a price on what it is to live in Miami.