I don't much like labels. I'm probably closest to an artist but i also write, design and research digital games and take a lot of photographs and more recently videos.
I exhibit internationally when i feel a train of thought has gone far enough down the line. In recent years I have had shows in Portugal, the Netherlands, US and UK. Professional positions have included Creative director of two online games studios, Games editor and Head of Development at a mobile software engineering and research company (currently consulting for Virgin Mobile and T-mobile). I worked for 2 years as part of the core team on Urban Tapestries, a public authoring research project based in London.
Towards the end of 2004 I was invited by Liselott Brunnberg and Profwessor Oskar Juhlin, of the Mobility Studio at the Interactive Institute in Stockholm to collaborate on a fabulous mobile games research project called Backseat Playground which I will be re-joining in Autumn 2006.
I am currently delighted to be artist in residence at the newly launched Interactive Institute Art & Technology unit where i am working on new works in the evidencia series titled Stain.
John Paul Bichard is an artist who has worked with digital media, games, photography and installation since the early nineties. He curated and produced On a Clear Day in 1996, a ground breaking digital game art project that took place around the UK. As Mute magazine's games editor from 1995 to 2001, Bichard explored and wrote on the cultural significance of the then emerging video game scene and was invited to show work at the Virtual Architecture exhibition at the ICA in 1998. For the past two years he has been head of interaction with the public authoring digital research project Urban Tapestries a joint venture with France Telecom, HP, Orange and the DTI. He is currently starting a mobile game research project Backseat Gaming http://www.tii.se/mobility/BSP with the Interactive Institute mobility studio in Stockholm.
Bichard has shown work in Europe, NY and London. Recent shows include an installation at the International Digital Games Research Symposium 'Level Up' in Utrecht, an online residency with Variablemedia and a first person video game on the ISEA 2004 ferry in the Baltic Sea as part of the ICOLS arms fair. Bichard shows at Quadrum Gallery in Lisbon. Recent exhibitions, have been from the Evidencia series that explores the relationship between environment, narrative and [game] play through digital games, installation and photography.
Bichard's work picks at the boundary between the 'protected real place' such as the police evidence space or the 'safe European home' and the 'digital made real', where the games space is [re]constructed as a 'real' environment. Through the use of online digital games, their tropes and assets, these works, subvert the player/viewers expectations and assumptions of the space they are engaging with inviting the viewer to re-construct the narrative and re-interpret the place. His photo works and multiples include collaged photo narratives, artist's books and multiple artworks that further explore relationships between physical and fabricated space, narrative and notions of authenticity.
[about the work]
For several years, I have been working on the Evidencia series of works, which explore my relationship between the 'real' and the 'game space'. Since coming across a fatal motorcycle crash, where a busy London street in rush hour was cordoned off, transformed into a silent, macabre 'set', I have been fascinated with the way that the forensic space dislocates the 'familiar'. The resultant sterile space, where every trace of activity, every fragment of debris is given potential significance, where scientists move in to analyse and de-construct the events, is in direct contrast to the First Person Shooter game space where players engage the tropes of massacre and destruction to advance through the level leaving massive evidence trails, but with no apparent consequence. I am exploring what would happen if the game had consequences, what would happen to the remains once the player has moved on.
The first 2 works in the Evidencia series Evidencia#000 and Evidencia#001 were installations in the 'real' world, where I used videogame tropes and traces to evoke a hybrid game/evidence space.
With White Room (Evidencia#002), I wanted to carry on exploring this evidence space, but wanted to invert what I had been doing by not only making my work literally within the games space - the in-game photoshoot - but also by treating the games space as if it were real, a space that I was familiar with. So I re-played several games that I know, including Doom3 but settled on Max Payne 2 because I particularly liked the feel of the in-game spaces; the crack house, the construction site the opulent penthouse etc. In addition to the aesthetic concerns, I like the way the designers have tried to tackle narrative in a videogame context. Max Payne is more akin to a comic book so the clichés and settings are more iconic than many similar games and several of the locations really do have the feel of a film set so appear to be very familiar. I played the game through 3 times (at least:)) before setting the GOD and GETALLWEPONS cheats and running BenDMan'S 'bloody mod 1.2' in developer mode, then started afresh looking at the environments, 'painting' the spaces with the carnage and looking for the right shots. It took a lot of time to find the right places, the best angles and the set right scenes just as in a real-world photo shoot and I had to discard a lot of images, but I feel the resultant series has the right balance of emptiness and expectation - hence 'waiting places'.
I have had a lot of interest in the Evidencia series - over 15,000 visitors in the first few months with responses that ranged from a small minority who thought it was artsy bullshit or that I was just plagiarizing and infringing copyright - to a very positive response from games, art, new media, research and design online communities. Inspirational; Macabre; Dark but clever... Interesting reaction to The White Room piece from Remedy, the Max Payne 2 developers who responded that they were thrilled that Max Payne 2 was chosen as a "tool" for art. Some people liked the idea of 'waiting places', others, the way that the game space had been altered by documenting what is usually left behind by the player.
What I set out to do with White Room was to play with the boundary between the videogame and the real, what I feel I have succeeded in doing is to subtly change the way in which the video game space is perceived.
I continue to explore videogames through my work - in both the 'real' and the game space. I am currently working at the Interactive Institute Mobility Studio in Stockholm. I am leading a mobile research project in which we are developing a location based game Backseat Playground. In-game, the real world becomes the game landscape- where game properties are assigned to everyday objects and linked to an episodic game narrative.
The Evidência series in never far from the surface.
e-mail john[at sign]hydropia[dot]org