Dungeons & Dragons in Contemporary Art, NYC, NY 11/6

edited November 2010 in Meetups / Conventions

This Saturday, November 6th, the Allegra LaViola gallery will be hosting a panel discussion featuring the artists Ryan Browning, Chris Hagerty, Timothy Hutchings, Sean McCarthy, and Casey Jex Smith, plus a video contribution from Zak Smith. The topic for discussion is “Dungeons & Dragons in Contemporary Art”:
Art and games are both forms of ritualized human creativity. When Marcel Duchamp gave up the former to pursue the latter, he famously said ”I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.” The interface between art and games is especially provocative for many artists whose imaginations were shaped by the 1974 publication of Dungeons & Dragons, which founded a uniquely free-form and collaborative genre of role-playing games. This panel brings together contemporary artists who play within the realm of role playing games. Using these games as more than a vehicle for nostalgic posturing, these artists critically engage RPGs as tools for creative intervention, criticism, and shared experience.

I've posted & will be continuing to post some context for the discussion at The Mule Abides; as moderator for the discussion, I'll be glad to ask questions on your behalf if you can't make it but want to post 'em as comments there or here.


  • Neat stuff. Thanks for sharing. I have a fine arts background (BFA in painting). Some of the pieces in the gallery are pretty neat, but I might like the above poster best of all. I know Tony Dowler (How to Host a Dungeon, Year of the Dungeon, For the Love of Dungeons,Microdungeons) either has had or is gearing up for a showing of his work. His stuff really steps outside of the game a bit and takes "dungeon mapping" into a more cerebral and artistic place. It would be nice to see some of his work in the gallery.

    I would love to see a full coffee table book of art consisting of actual character sheets, relationship maps, dungeon maps, home-made dice bags, etc. That would be really cool, and a good seller I think. I would keep it away from commercial stuff though. There is a big difference between a lovingly crafted one-off item for your own use and (even on a small scale) producing lots of chainmail dice bags for sale. I know there are a lot of beautiful and/or quirky objects out there surrounding our games and we should share images with each other.
  • The poster is by Ryan Browning - I love it too, esp. since having been in the gallery gives some extra appreciation for the way it merges mapping a real and imagined space.

    Tim Hutchings, one of the panelists, curates a Play-Generated Maps and Documents Archive that collects the kind of art you describe - a coffee table book would indeed be cool!
  • Found it. Thanks!
  • It's pretty easy to view something like this LINK as art.
  • Wow, I can't beleive I didn't know about this until now! Kudos to you for organizing this. Dungeons & Dragons players (former and current) are well represented among artists. You've got a great panel there. It should be an awesome discussion. Any chance it will be recorded for download?

    And yes, as Doc said, I'm doing a dungeon-themed art show in December. There's not much of it online yet, but I have a preview up here: http://blog.microdungeons.com/2010/10/why-didnt-i-post-any-dungeons-last-week.html
  • Posted By: tony dowlerAny chance it will be recorded for download?
    Oh, yes, this! I just naturally assumed that I will never be able to see this, but if there's any chance please please pretty please record this for posterity. Video or audio, but it should be done, if possible.
  • Yes, I certainly hope to make a video of the discussion; certainly this was done for the Doomslangers performances (down bottom of that page. That's my son in the leopard-skin leotard!)

    New post at The Mule Abides of the email discussion leading to the panel touches peripherally on the distinction between commercial and one-off distinction you made above, docholaday.
  • Posted By: docholadayIt's pretty easy to view something like thisLINKas art.
    ..or insanity. ;)

    Back In The Day, I was usually the party's mapper... and I would have knocked the DM flat after maybe five of those rooms:
    DM: "OK, you open the door carefully and reveal a room that is a diamond shape, 35.5 degrees on the northern point, 25.5 degrees on the southern point, about... uh, let's call it 154 degrees on the eastern corner and 145 degrees on the western point. But the northern point is about 10 feet more easterly than the southern point."
    Me: "What the fuck, man? ... Um... how big is this dungeon?"
    DM: It's got... err... hmm... 85 rooms, not counting corridors."
    Me: "Are you SURE you want to do this, Steve? This could be one of the biggest decisions of your life, man...."

    (Sorry for the tangent--wish I could attend!)
  • Video of the panel is here!
  • I sent one of my nerd friends in NYC this link, and he dropped by the exhibit. Rave review!

    The talk and overall exhibit were AWESOME. they were all pretty
    serious gamers and, essentially, this one artist whose subject matter
    usually covers the relationship of religion, fine art, and mysticism in
    the form of D+D got a bunch of gamers who were professional artists
    together form all over the country and staged a 5-month D+D campaign
    that they played via Skype or some such thing and then they all did
    artwork that centered around the campaign and gaming in general and
    created this show and played the final few games in the basement of
    the gallery. so cool. you should honestly plan any pending trip around
    the fact that the exhibit comes down as of Dec3
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