“NFT, metaverse, real time 3D… Octobre Numerique questions the use of video game technologies in all creative fields” - Fabien Siouffi (Faire Monde)
A new event in Arles (France), Octobre Numérique takes up the trendy subjects of Clean NFT, metaverse and virtual production to make a first assessment of them. When video game technologies get involved in the artistic world: we discussed with Fabien Siouffi, its artistic director and co-founder of the association Faire Monde, which programs and organizes the event in partnership with the local authorities of the Arles region.
Founder of the Fabbula studio, Fabien and his team are also curators (Les Ailleurs, Palais Augmenté, VR Arles...), and represent in France several digital and immersive artists - such as Melodie Mousset and Marshmallow Laser Feast.
Cover: THE LIFE GAME EP. 2: BATTLE OF REALITY, Keiken, 2020
Faire Monde presents Octobre Numérique
Fabien Siouffi - With Fabbula the beginning of the year 2021 accompanied the reopening of the cultural venues. We are coming out of a very busy period! We presented our new event Les Ailleurs at the Gaîté lyrique (Paris, France) from May to July, Palais Augmenté at the ephemeral Grand Palais in June, while working on this new event commissioned by the Arles Crau Camargue Montagnette agglomeration community: Octobre Numérique, for which we founded an association "Faire Monde" with Actes Sud, Chroniques, Extramentale, Fabbula, Fisheye.
F. S. - Octobre Numérique is not intended to become another XR festival, because there are already many (including in France). We especially want to question the arrival of new video game technologies in creation: metaverse, real time, etc. And one of the major subjects, far from the media buzz, is the role of metaverse in creation. How artists are going to seize it, not to replace the real but to accompany it, to extend it, to enrich it. And it is interesting to see them discuss it, because they are the ones who explore not only the sensory and dreamlike possibilities but also the gaps and doubts.
F. S. - We think that we must appropriate the metaverse. It is a space that allows a lot of freedom, a lot of possibilities and that it is interesting to show and also to transmit. Moreover, digital, especially at a time of health crises, does not make us forget the physical world, the reunion, the touch. For Octobre Numérique, the main event will take place in Arles from October 6 to 20, with 3 first days of conferences and professional meetings from October 6 to 8, then exhibitions, master classes and workshops.
F. S. - For the opening days, many speakers from tech (Epic Games, Unity), studios (Ubisoft, Mado XR) and art (LUMA, Centre Pompidou) and even investors, who will come to share their visions of the metaverse and our other theme that are the Clean NFT (NFT with a minimal carbon footprint) and their articulation with immersive art. There will be real moments of exchange with French and international artists such as Theo Triantafyllidis, Saradibiza or Keiken to understand how metaverse are made with these new tools that are video game engines. And a business focus on 8/10 to promote job creation in the region on these topics (video game, Fortnite, virtual production ...).
F. S. - We are lucky to be welcomed by the city of Arles, which we know well and which has a strong cultural base. Part of our team lives there, I have known it myself since I was a child... For several years, culture has been a tool for social transformation. The arrival of Luma, the continuity of the Rencontres d'Arles and many other events have created an artistic community and a real desire to develop it. There is also a desire to create a digital campus, to integrate studios around real-time 3D technologies in particular.
Is the metaverse real (the spoon doesn't exist)?
F. S. - I really believe in the emergence of virtual worlds, but more as a sign of the extension of the world (and codes) of video games. I worked in this sector for 15 years and I saw the communities of players, the open worlds (World of Warcraft, Fortnite, Roblox...) that sometimes upset the real. I think of all those who meet in the virtual world, then marry for good. I've seen whole populations playing, like in South Korea, in China... There is a real social aspect, often in societies where morals are still very restricted for example. But we have also seen it in the West with the extension of Fortnite or other communities to multiple domains outside the game: concerts, fashion shows, plays, etc. The video game no longer requires to follow a playful progression but rather to spend time in virtual spaces.
F. S. - And these habits from video games are transpiring on the Internet, affecting social networks in particular, which are becoming embodied and spatialized. I think this trend will continue. The confinements due to Covid-19 have accelerated the adoption of these new uses and with them their questioning. Curiosity is there, and for Octobre Numérique it's the right time to ask the right questions, to question practices and contexts, by placing creation at the center of the game. Faced with what is coming before us, we must anticipate and invest these spaces and collectively develop the ethics of practices.
F. S. - For the creators, especially the young ones, it is all the more important to play a role. They are the ones who will create the stories that will inhabit the virtual worlds and bring them to life. This probably explains why they are already strongly involved in these issues.
Clean NFT, egg or chicken?
F. S. - I am curious about NFTs, which also come from the adoption of video game practices: the sale of virtual objects, dynamic pricings, the importance of the community, the direct relationship between user and seller, the steering by metrics... Obviously, there is speculation, a rather exuberant financial aspect. But the broader question of who makes a work of art valuable is fascinating, and is constantly worked on by the actors of digital art and now of NFT. As for Clean NFT, it is all these new protocols and technologies that make the carbon footprint of NFT acceptable to artists. The artist community mobilized in 2021 to refuse the energy waste of Ethereum and NFTs as they were practiced until then and succeeded in imposing a rapid transition to Clean NFT. Proof that their influence is real!
F. S. - Here our role is to bring everyone together to discuss this new fashion, and its articulation with the metaverse which needs an economic model (subscription, privatization, audience...). On October 6th we have invited curators specialized in digital art like Pau Waelder, artists who are pioneers of this technology like the musician Agoria, Obvious (known for their paintings made by AIs and which have reached important amounts during auctions at Christie's), but also actors of the metaverse who work exclusively with NFT like The Sandbox ou Decentraland. An opportunity to understand the phenomenon.
F. S. - NFT is a real decentralized, independent practice that can help creators. We need a cross-platform standardization, a movement towards WebXR - and NFT is a gas pedal for that, by proposing a business model for digital artists. It's still experimental, and without too many rules, which encourages the emergence of new artists and new collectors, etc. Before that, being a digital artist was really complicated from a financial point of view. We're going to push the discussion on this subject with Renaissance NFT, which is co-organizing this day. We hope to give ideas to the XR industry.