On Power and Play in Virtual Worlds

Apr 18, 2019
6:00-8:00pm
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60601
Lectures & Symposia

Digital & Electronic Art


Lecture by Dawn Chan and Mary Flanagan; moderated by jonCates.

Critics Dawn Chan and Mary Flanagan, winners of the 2018 Thoma Foundation Arts Writing Awards in Digital art, engage in a wide-ranging conversation about the social and political dynamics embedded in virtual reality, games, digital art, and software design. Considering the work of Rachel Rossin, Ramsey Nasser, Jenova Chen, Hyphen-Labs, Porpentine, Lucia Grossberger-Morales, and Marina Zurkow, among others, the two pose critical questions about the ways new technologies interact with constructions of race, class, the self, and the other. This talk will be moderated by jonCates and will be followed by an audience Q&A.

Purchase tickets here.


Dawn Chan’s writing focuses on the sociopolitical implications of digital art. Her writing appears in The Atlantic (online), Bookforum, New York Times, NewYorker.com, New York Magazine, Paris Review, Village Voice, among other publications. She also frequently contributes to Artforum, where she was an editor from 2007 to 2018. Her work often focuses on the relationships between visual art, culture, identity, and technology. Currently a visiting scholar at New York University’s XE: Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement, Chan has lectured at venues including the Guggenheim Museum, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Maryland Institute College of Art. She is the recipient of a 2018 Creative Capital / Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.

Mary Flanagan is the author of the landmark book Critical Play: Radical Game Design (2009), co-author of Values at Play in Digital Games (2014) and Similitudini. Simboli. Simulacri (2005), and co-editor of the collections Reload: Rethinking Women in Cyberculture (2003) and Re:Skin (2006). Her essays and articles have appeared in Art Against Art, Salon, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, and Huffington Post. She is working on a series of popular and art press essays that look at the productive paradox of art games. Flanagan is also the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College and leads the design research laboratory Tiltfactor.

jonCates is associate professor in the Film, Video, New Media and Animation department at SAIC. His work has been exhibited, screened, performed and presented internationally, including at the Hong-Gah Museum,Taipei, Taiwan; the MuseumsQuartier, Vienna; Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, Scotland; the Instituto Cultural de León, Spain; the Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada; the Wrong Digital Art Biennale, Babycastles Gallery, New York; SPEKTRUM, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and Rhizome. In 2005 he created the concept of Dirty New Media and is widely recognized as developing concepts, communities, and discourses of the unstable arts now known as glitch art.

“On Power and Play in Virtual Worlds” is hosted by Conversations at the Edge, a weekly experimental media series of screenings, performances, and talks by groundbreaking media artists. Conversations at the Edge is organized by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation in collaboration with the Gene Siskel Film Center and SAIC’s Video Data Bank.

Purchase tickets here.


Image: Marina Zurkow, Mesocosm (Wink, TX), 2012. Courtesy of the artist.