Saturday 19 November, 2–8pm

Electricity flows from motherboards into muscle memory. Neurones fire into logic gates across silicon synapses. We must become a part of the system, in order to overcome it. Welcome to the arcade.

For podcasts of the event, click here.

Meeting the Machine Half-Way

For their Study Day, Meeting the Machine Half-way, current artists-in-residence Larry Achiampong, David Blandy and Gary Zhexi Zhang will be joined by curator Morgan Quaintance, artist Angela Washko, journalist Evan Narcisse, gamer and artist Danielle Nelson (Zakuta/Izanami) and researchers Carleigh Morgan and Nathaniel Zetter, to take part in a programme of talks, demonstrations and a live gaming tournament.

The Study Day will draw on the experiences of professional game-players, researchers and artists in order to explore the history of video gaming culture and to think critically about our embodied relationship to technology, race and sexuality.

There will be a Super Smash Bros (Wii U version), 2014, tournament and a Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, 1992 'winner-stays-on' tournament.  

Games will be available to play from 1pm and refreshments will be available from cafe abantu for early arrivals. Early registration for the Super Smash Bros tournament is advised.

2pm – Introduction from Lotte Juul Petersen, Artist and Programmes Curator, and John Bloomfield, Assistant Curator. 

2.15pm – Morgan Quaintance on the social context of arcades. 

2.45pm – "Cybernetic Communities": Nathaniel Zetter, Carleigh Morgan and Gary Zhexi Zhang in conversation. 

3.30pm – Discussion and Q&A. 

4pm – First rounds of Super Smash Bros tournament and Street Fighter  tournament. Refreshments available from café abantu. 

5pm – "A Gamer's Life": Danielle Nelson, David Blandy and Larry Achiampong in conversation. 

5.45pm International gamers' chatroom: Angela Washko and Evan Narcisse in online conversation, moderated by David Blandy and Larry Achiampong. 

6.30pm – Discussion and Q&A. 

7pm – Final rounds of Super Smash Bros and Street Fighter tournaments. Refreshments available from café abantu. 

8pm – Ends. 

Artist biographies

Larry Achiampong and David Blandy share an interest in popular culture and the post-colonial position; examining communal and personal heritage within their collaborative practice and using performance to investigate the self as a fiction. Achiampong and Blandy, as individual artists, have been exploring issues surrounding race and culture for many years, albeit from completely different cultural backgrounds. They have been collaborating as Biters and on the Finding Fanon series for over two years, resulting in a body of work including digital imagery, performance and video. Over the past three years, they have exhibited and performed internationally including at Fabrica, Brighton; Iniva, London; Modern Art Oxford; Spike Island, Bristol; ICI/Savvy Contemporary, Berlin; and Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle. Their films are distributed by LUX and David Blandy is represented by Seventeen Gallery, London. 

Gary Zhexi Zhang is an artist and writer whose work is concerned with private and political narratives of the virtual. Recent screenings and exhibitions include Would You Like Help at EMBASSY Gallery, Edinburgh and Tenderflix Film Festival at ICA, London. He is a regular contributor to Frieze and Elephant magazines, and recently graduated with a Masters of Philosophy in Criticism and Culture from Cambridge University.

Contributor biographies

Carleigh Morgan is a Fulbright scholar, artist, writer, and researcher exploring the cybernetic sutures between bodies and machines, with particular emphasis on the diagrams of production, communication, and coordination that enclose gamers and their technologies in a chimerical apparatus. Personal interests include using or critiquing wetware, quantified life, AI, virtual reality, biohacking, neuroenhancement, indie games, deeptech startups, object-oriented erotica—and sending romantic dispatches to machine learning bots on Twitter. Carleigh graduated from King's College London in 2016 with an MA in Contemporary Literature, Culture, and Theory and is currently a research assistant at the Centre for Digital Culture, scheming about the automation revolution, the gig economy, and networks of capital accumulation.   

Danielle Nelson is an artist and fighting game player having played at a competitive level since 1999. Danielle plays a number of games but is best known for playing Guilty Gear and Tekken. Danielle has worked with Namco, assisting with tournaments and writing character guides in the Official Tekken 5 Guide and helped officially promote the release of BlazBlue in the UK. Danielle has also been selected to participate in the Official Tekken 7 European qualifier, with the winner invited to compete in the grand finals in Japan. 

Morgan Quaintance is a London-based writer, musician, broadcaster and curator. Born in South London, he is a regular contributor to Art Monthly, Art Review, Frieze, Rhizome.org and a number of curatorial sites and blogs. He is a contributing editor for E-Flux’s online publishing portal Art Agenda, is a founding member of the curatorial collective DAM PROJECTS, and is the 2015/16 curatorial fellow at Cubitt Gallery, London. As a presenter he currently works with the BBC’s flagship arts programme The Culture Show, and is also the producer of Studio Visit, a weekly hour-long interviews-based programme, broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM, featuring international contemporary artists as guests. 

Angela Washko is an artist, writer and facilitator devoted to creating new forums for discussions of feminism in the spaces most hostile toward it. Since 2012, Washko has also been facilitating The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft.

Nathaniel Zetter is a PhD candidate in the faculty of English at Cambridge University. His doctoral research tracks the conceptual exchanges between sport and war in literary texts and in cultural discourse, with a particular focus on the contemporary period. Recent papers on video games include "Perception and Periodization: Video Game Perspective as Symbolic Form" and "Gaming at Work".