June 1, 2023

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Getting physical with Virtual Realms

In a dark room encircled by a 360-degree screen, Patrick Moran methodically leaps through a series of blue spotlights on the floor. The Barbican curator is showing me an internal cheat code to speed through a section of Book of Sand, a specially-commissioned work named for the Jorge Luis Borges short story about a book with infinite pages. The meditative scenes projected around us are from Tequila Works’ 2017 puzzler RiME, reincarnated in a new form here at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.

Book of Sand is one of six new installations at Virtual Realms, an exhibition co-curated by the Barbican and Sega alumnus Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who adapted elements of his own game Rez into a new piece for the show. Six game developers were paired with shortlisted media artists to create what Mizuguchi terms an “experiential new artform” for collaborative group play; onedotzero’s Shane Walter jokingly describes the Barbican as a sort of marriage broker armed with lists of potential matches. The idea was to get visitors to think about games as art, and push some boundaries in the process.

Each realm is defined by a theme*:

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