Joue le jeu

3 out of 5 stars
Joue le jeu
© Maxime Dufour

‘This is not an exhibition’, warns the website of the Gaîté Lyrique. Instead, visitors are invited to view the building anew – as a giant playground of interactivity, arcades, game trails and cutting edge videogames. Interest piqued, you’ll be more than ready to ‘play along’ – though emerging a few hours later, you might be a little more sceptical.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some great ideas here, like the magnificent ‘Kit Opérette’, an interactive installation by the Canadian collective Daily tous les jours, which invites the public to slip into opera singers’ costumes and respond to props and sounds – here rainfall, there wing beats. There are several floors of cutting-edge video games to work through (new creations include FLX, Witness and Fader), and on the fourth floor the Babycastle collective has used nothing more than imagination, enthusiasm and cardboard to create a room of cat-themed lo-fi arcade games.

Some things are less successful. The Hide&Seek collective’s slightly contrived game trail ‘The Building Is’ doesn’t quite deliver on its promise to breathe life into the architecture and make it play with the visitors. And although you won’t be bored by the show as a whole, far from it, at the end of it all there’s a sense of something missing. It’s disappointing to not really have had one’s perceptions about games challenged, and to not really have understood who is behind this independent scene and how they work. It’s hard, in the end, to work out who is really being addressed – not children, not geeks, but also not neophytes.

But remember that ‘Play Along’ is not an exhibition. Be prepared to rummage among its various talks, film projections and galleries to get an idea of the future of gaming, of its place in society, of its new codes and its artistic ambitions. Sadly, its passionate visions just don’t quite get transmitted here.


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