Steam forum member 'thedefiant' – student Christopher Wyant - used Valve's FPS as a medium to display an art project for his university degree. In an attempt to create some kind of mad feedback loop that'll doom the whole galaxy, he set up a server in TF2, displaying custom sprays of ceramic pots. Having taken screenshots of the carnage that went on in the serene virtual gallery, he then set up a real gallery in Auburn University, displaying both pictures of the ceramics in-game as well as the actual physical ceramics themselves. Everybody present at both events had their brains explode.
As making people's brains explode is an unusual thing to do, especially with art, we asked Christopher directly what his motives were.
Why did you decide to do this?
Christopher Wyant: This whole idea of community and the effects community has had on this project really tied my artwork together and allowed it to exist. I have always wanted to put my artwork into a game. It was just a matter of timing and developing a good portfolio to place into the game.
Christopher Wyant: The community and the tools valve has given us to easily accomplish our goals. I really enjoy the setting of the game and all the customizable characters. Without these characters, I feel my virtual gallery would have seemed stale and bland. The characters in TF2 are really expressive and I had a lot of people at my exhibition looking in amazement and laughing their asses off because the characters are believable.
Just like the polycount pack, placing my work inside of the game fused both my artwork and the game.
How does the PC facilitate art?
Christopher Wyant: For me the PC allowed me to create a virtual gallery, bring all my friends and the community into that space, and then show the world. Digital work is like no other medium. Because this work is virtual, I am able to share it with the rest of the world faster than any ancient Roman potter could have dreamed.
As a ceramic artist I have to look at the historical context of my work. Why should my art be relevant in a contemporary setting when people have been making pottery for thousands of years? By placing my pottery into a video game, I hoped to bridge this vast gap in time.
Do you see gaming and art intertwining more in the future?
Christopher Wyant: I think that it should and will. Unlike non digital artwork, the digital must be accessed and not just observed. Things like the wii controller, playstation move, and Xbox Kinect are allowing users to access these game and interfaces in a more intuitively. The sad part about all those devices is the fidelity of movement controls which will eventually break a person's immersion.
On 2Fort as a scout with a mouse, keyboard, and a force of nature I can jump from my battlements into the water, back up to the ground from the pipe, then onto the enemy battlements all while only moving my mouse maybe a few inches. This is not possible with any other controller and probably never will be until I get a Playstion 9 (as seen in this old PS2 advert - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rSchSyYdH4&feature=related ).
This same problem of movement controls and intuitiveness in the gaming community is also one of the things holding back both game development and art creation. I think that the intuitiveness of model/texture creators and development kits will be what will drives art/game interaction. What I fear though is that if we do make developer kits easier to use will they be just as powerful of tools. The only analogy for this would be Maya is a mouse and keyboard, and Spore creature creator is a Kinect.
Do you want to do more in this field?
Christopher Wyant: I am currently in the process of creating a second virtual gallery. I am in the process of curating artwork from the gaming community via the tf2 art/video sub-forum .
Artists are strongly urged to submit any type of artwork (any 2 dimensional art, and 3 dimensional models as long as they follow the submission rules detailed on the forum post. In the future I hope to be able to learn the modeling tools so that I might be able to create and place 3d modeled pottery and other models into the game.