Auriea Harvey & Michaël Samyn
Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn are a married team of artists who collaborate on creating art video games.
Auriea Harvey is an American artist who was born in Indianapolis in 1971. She graduated with a B.F.A. in sculpture from Parsons School of Design. Michaël Samyn is a Belgian artist and programmer who was born in 1968 in Poperinge, Belgium.
In 1995 Harvey founded Entropy8, a website experimenting with interactivity and the functions of net art. In 1999, she merged her site with Zuper, by fellow artist and designer Michaël Samyn (whom she subsequently married) to create Entropy8Zuper!. During this period, they created works such as The Godlove Museum, a website that showcased their storytelling strengths by merging Biblical stories with narratives drawn from their own lives and contemporary culture. Harvey has also designed websites for Virgin Records America and PBS.
Harvey and Samyn left net.art for videogames in the early 2000s, when they felt that the web was becoming too much like a shopping mall. In 2002, they founded Tale of Tales, an independent game development studio in Ghent, Belgium, with the goal of creating games of greater emotional engagement and imaginative richness than the kinds of things that were being made for the then-major demographic of teenage boys. For a while Auriea was living in New York and Michaël in Belgium, and during this period they created Wirefire, a multimedia software interface that allowed them to communicate in a way that they considered less predictable and more creative than either chat or video (and less damned painful!).
Harvey and Samyn work as a team, although each has areas of specialization: Harvey in computer graphics and 3D modeling, Samyn in programming and sound. Together they have produced a number of artvideogames including The Graveyard, The Path, and The Endless Forest. They have become known for a distinctive visual style and unusual approaches to both narrative and game play.
In 2015 the pair gave up on videogames to devote the rest of their lives to art. Their first post-games project is Cathedral-in-the-Clouds.
The Graveyard is a simple video game in which the player takes on the role of an old woman in a graveyard who walks around before eventually leaving. In the full version of the game, there is a small chance that the old woman will die before leaving.
The Path was inspired by some versions of the fairy tale Little Red Ridinghood. Players must choose 1 of 6 sisters as an avatar and make their way to their grandmother's house. If they wander off the path, they will encounter the Wolf and the phase of the game that takes place once the player reaches the grandmother's house changes substantially. When all 6 sister characters have been played to the point of encountering the Wolf, a seventh character becomes playable: a mysterious little girl in a white dress.
The Endless Forest is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game without set goals, in which all the players exist as deer in a quiet forest. Players are represented in game not by usernames but by icons of their deer avatars. They may not communicate with each other using language (text or voice) but instead must interact with each other through the deer's body language. A unique feature of this game is that it can be played as a screensaver when users are not active on their computers.
Harvey and Samyn's most recent game, Sunset (2015) puts players in a fictional South American city that is in the midst of a revolution. Unlike many games, however, the player is not a warrior or a savior but a housekeeper, a strategy that focuses attention on the difficult lives of civilians under conditions of war. The protagonist of the game is Angela Burnes, an African-American engineer who emigrated from the United States to the fictional South American town of San Bavón in the republic of Anchuria in search of a good life and instead wound up cleaning the ultra-modernist penthouse of a wealthy man in a war zone. The time period of the game is the 1970s, and the artwork for the game is sparely minimalist. As a housekeeper, the player is kept inside the apartment and allowed to carry out mostly small actions that don't seem to hold out much promise of changing things: writing notes, for example, or switching the employer's radio station to a pirate channel. The team funded the game partially through a Kickstarter campaign.
The earliest public release of Harvey's work was in 1999 when she participated in Gallery 9, an online gallery of the Walker Art Center. In 2000, she exhibited in "The Last Real Net Art Museum", an online exhibition focusing on internet art. Since then she and Samyn have appeared in various exhibitions such as the Absolut L.A. International Biennial, 010101 (SFMOMA), ALT+CTRL Festival of Independent and Alternative Games (Beall Center, Irvine, CA), Tardis (Provincial Archeological Museum, Belgium), Edge Conditions (San Jose Museum of Art), WoW (Laguna Art Museum), Art History of Games (High Museum of Art), and the Neoludica Biennial (Venice, Italy). The team's awards include the Emerging Grant (1999), SFMOMA Prize for Excellence in Online Art (2000), the European Innovative Games Award (2008), the Creative Capital Emerging Fields Award (2006) and the Advanced Prize in Innovative Game Design (2010).
- Harvey, Auriea, and Michaël Samyn. "Realtime art manifesto." Gaming realities: the challenge of digital culture, mediaterra festival of Art and Technology, Athens (2006).
- Harvey, Auriea, and Michael Samyn. "Over games." SMARTech website, Georgia Institute of Technology (2010).
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- Entropy8 website
- Middlebrooks, Kaley. "New Media Art: A New Frontier or a Continued Tradition." Project Zero: Good Work Project Report 9 (2001).
- Stiles, Janet. "Prospectus: As Black Technology Entrepreneurs Organize, They Are Spreading the Word About the Benefits of 'Digital Freedom'". New York Times, Feb. 22, 1999.
- Chaplin, Heather. "The path." Well played 3.0. ETC Press, 2011.
- Khaw, Cassandra. "Indie Devs in Love: Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn of Tale of Tales" April 18, 2011.
- Ferreday, Debra. "Becoming deer: Nonhuman drag and online utopias." Feminist Theory 12.2 (2011): 219-225.
- artsconnected.org, "Auriea Harvey" Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine.
- IndieCade website, "IndieCade 2013 Speaker Highlight"
- Cyberformance Symposium website, CyPosium 2013
- Tale of Tales website
- Weil, Benjamin. "Art in digital times: From technology to instrument." Leonardo 35.5 (2002): 523-537.
- Ryan, Malcolm, and Brigid Costello. "My Friend Scarlet: Interactive Tragedy in The Path." Games and Culture 7.2 (2012): 111-126
- Martens, Todd. "'Sunset': An Engaging Game About War's Toll on a Housekeeper". Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2015.
- Cobbett, Richard. "Red Sky at Night: Tale of Tales on Sunset". Rock, Paper Shotgun, July 14, 2014.
- Harvey and Samyn online CV