This December ACMI launches a world-premiere exhibition where visitors will step outside the confines of the digital realm and discover what lies beyond as a gang of wayward artists known as The Grannies escape the limits of one of gaming’s biggest online worlds.
Out of Bounds: Exploring the Limits of Videogames showcases the creative exploration of a group of Melbourne-based artists – Goldie Bartlett, Andrew Brophy, Ian MacLarty and Kalonica Quigley – as they break beyond the boundaries of Rockstar Games’ hit action-adventure videogame Red Dead Redemption 2 Online and into the surreal digital deserts beyond.
The Grannies’ explorations provide an alternative narrative to the action-packed, goal-oriented videogame design of Red Dead Redemption 2. Rather than playing to complete or win the game, their adventures are driven by creative curiosity, presenting play not only as the end game, but also as a form of artistic practice.
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Through a multichannel video artwork titled The Grannies (dir. Marie Foulston), which is narrated by The Grannies themselves, plus an original artistic videogame and stunning stills, Out of Bounds: Exploring the Limits of Videogames asks what exists beyond the border of the digital worlds we inhabit. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the cracks of an apparently seamless digital world, through an artist’s eyes.
The Grannies’ director Marie Foulston said: “As an international institution that leads the way in the celebration of videogames as a creative force, ACMI is the perfect place to be premiering an exhibition dedicated to The Grannies. Our ambition with this work was to centre those who play videogames and show how play can be a creative act. In their explorations The Grannies guide us through ethereal, otherworldly and at times absurd landscapes and experiences that lie beyond the fringes of the virtual world. In doing so they reveal a rare glimpse into the materiality and humanity of digital creations.”
Seb Chan, Director & CEO, ACMI, said: “ACMI is proud to present Out of Bounds: Exploring the Limits of Videogames and bring both The Grannies and Red Desert Renderto a wide all-ages audience. The exhibition highlights how the expansive constructed worlds of modern videogames are never perfect and clever players are able to discover and exploit glitches to build their own stories inside them.”
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To create The Grannies, Marie Foulston collaborated with filmmaker Luke Neher. Together they choreographed screen captures and stills of the increasingly abstract digital wilderness alongside extracts from an audio interview conducted with The Grannies about their time out of bounds.
The Grannies is also accompanied by an original experimental playable videogame by Ian MacLarty called Red Desert Render. This seeks to recreate the feeling of curiosity and community that The Grannies themselves felt during their adventures out of bounds, alongside previously unseen images – including special landmarks not featured in the multi-channel video work – from the artists’ additional adventures beyond the map.
While an edited version of The Grannies has previously been screened as a short film at the 2021 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, London Short Film Festival and The Milan Machinima Festival, ACMI’s exhibition marks the world premiere of this body of work in its intended gallery installation format.
Out of Bounds: Exploring the Limits of Videogames runs 8 Dec 2022 until 23 April 2023 at ACMI, Fed Square with free entry. For more information, visit acmi.net.au