At the FTA: a 7-hour “video game” show featuring donkeys

Artists Patrick Blenkarn and Milton Lim come to the Festival TransAmériques (FTA) with asses.massesa seven-hour video game that unfolds on the big screen and for which all spectators can collaborate.

At the heart of the game which has already managed to captivate a few full houses so far: 10 paintings featuring donkeys.

One might ask: why donkeys?

This is not obvious?jokes Patrick Blenkarn before offering his explanations.

I was studying the representations of certain symbols of stupidity in literature and I came across the donkey, he says. The animal itself is super smart and kind. However, there is a long history of mistreatment and negative symbolism linked to this animal.

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Vancouver artists Milton Lim and Patrick Blenkarn present their work “asses.masses” at the Festival TransAmériques.

Photo: Courtesy: FTA

As the donkey is often an animal that is overloaded and works hard, it is compared, in literature, to the working class.

It is the image of those who work with their hands. And just like the working class isn’t stupid, neither is the donkeyadds Patrick Blenkarn.

asses.masses is even clearer because we try to put forward with the performance, the fact that people in the audience have to make decisions. They have choices to make and otherwise the game will not end.”,”text”:”In reality, the donkey is often more indecisive between two options rather than stupid, adds his partner. The link with asses.masses is even clearer because we try to put forward with the performance, the fact that people in the audience have to make decisions. They have choices to make and otherwise the game won’t end.”}}”>In reality, the donkey is often more indecisive between two options rather than stupid, adds his partner.

The link with asses.masses is even clearer because we try to put forward, with the performance, the fact that people in the audience have to make decisions. They have choices to make and otherwise the game won’t end.

A quote from Milton Lim

Both artists are equally enthusiastic about the discreet images or veiled messages that slip into their playing and the social and human experience that results from them.

Our joke from the beginning was that we wanted to do a story where a donkey works hard all day and then comes home to play games, says Patrick Blenkarn.

We take a look at society which, for its part, spends its days working at the computer, then comes home to play computer games.

A quote from Patrick Blenkarn

Canadian international success

Working together on a second joint work, the two Vancouver multidisciplinary artists developed their concept during a creative residency in Burnaby, near Vancouver.

As we work in several arts disciplines, when we have an idea, we want to find the format with which it will work best. This time it was the gamesays Milton Lim.

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At the heart of the “asses.masses” game which has already managed to captivate a few packed rooms so far: 10 paintings featuring donkeys.

Photo: Courtesy: FTA

The creators have just returned from Mayfest of Bristol, an annual contemporary theater festival where asses.masses received much praise.

The show was also performed in Spanish in Buenos Aires and many other translations are underway, including Portuguese and Turkish.

The two artists have been thinking about the space reserved for games through art for several years now. We make magnificent games, but we don’t show them on stageunderlines Milton Lim.

Many games are art, but they don’t have spectacle. Why doesn’t a video game come after Shakespeare and before Chekhov at a theater festival? There’s no reason we can’t be part of this kind of programming.underlines Mr. Blenkarn.

We decided to build a bridge between the arts so that the game exists differently.

A quote from Patrick Blenkarn

The reason the game is seven hours long is because it contains a large group experience. Between 150 and 200 people are normally grouped in front of asses.masses and its 10 tables to solve.

People think it’s long, but they forget that it is once they get in, explains Patrick Blenkarn. It’s not as long as the 24 episodes of a series that you’re going to binge-listen to. It’s a very normal activity to play a game for seven hours.

>>A player plays, standing in front of a giant screen, observed by the public.>>

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Between 150 and 200 people are normally grouped in front of “asses.masses” and its 10 tables to solve.

Photo: Sergio Santillan

In the room, the participatory aspect is voluntary and can be deployed in different ways.

You can be the person who goes forward and plays asking the audience’s opinion, but sometimes the person who is in the back and who hasn’t said a word for hours is the only person who has observed this enough. who happens to know the answer and she will shout it to the main playerrelates Milton Lim.

What we tell the public is that we are going to work on this story together. It’s a group experience. We will leave when we have collectively succeeded in finding the solution. No one is going to kick us out before the game is over.

A quote from Milton Lim

In perfect harmony with the festival

Patrick Blenkarn and Milton Lim are enthusiastic festival-goers at FTA for several years and they are very proud to be part of the 2024 program.

It is the first video game programmed in FTA and we are happy that the programmers dared to take this risksays Patrick Blenkarn.

This is also the first time that the French version of the game will be presented in front of an audience, which is very exciting for the two creators who have an extraordinary attention to detail.

The translation includes new drawings, explains Patrick Blenkarn. If there is an indication written on a card in the game, we will redo the entire image so that it is in the correct language. We do this for all our translations.

The story remains the same in all countries and languages, the only difference is that everything is always longer in Frenchthey laugh.

The show asses.masses will be presented in French on Saturday, May 25 at 2 p.m., and in English on May 1er June, at the same time, at the Centaur Theater in Montreal.

The entire TransAmériques Festival program is available online (New window).

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