Virtual currency X the wrong Biennale open call
Deadline: 11/08/2019 | Published: 26/07/2019 | Sid and Jim .
Submit your work to be featured in Virtual Currency, an online pavilion for The Wrong Digital Biennale, centred around loot crates, unboxing vlogs, and online personalities.
We are looking for work that is influenced by the structures of physical and/or digital Loot Crates:
- What is their position socially?
- What would an art themed Loot Crate look like?
- How do they perpetuate fandom?
Any work selected will be included in a physical Loot Crate, which will then get ‘unboxed’ by a YouTuber.
The exhibition will take 2 distinct forms; the first will be a video of a YouTuber ‘unboxing’ a physical Loot Crate, and the second will be an online catalogue of all the works, including their description and a link to the artist’s website.
The video will consist of someone explaining that they’ve recently subscribed to an art loot box. They will proceed to unpack the box and remove the artworks one by one, taking time to describe the works as they are individually removed and unwrapped.
(Please note that all this will be done through editing and not all the artworks will be packed into one box. All works will be handled professionally.)
For the second part of the exhibition, all artworks will be professionally photographed and arranged on the website with information about the artist and the work itself.
Both completed works and proposals are welcome, submitted artworks can be anything you feel could be ‘unboxed’. We will make an effort to accommodate anything.
What are Loot Crates?
Loot crates, are collection-based blind boxes: players pay a small fee for a chance to obtain a random assortment of virtual or physical items. In video games, these rewards can be cosmetic (such as ‘skins’ that change the look of in-game objects) or affect gameplay (perhaps through higher stat numbers or unlocking abilities). But many companies run (IRL) subscription services, where paying members receive a box of curated items every month via the postal service.
The themes of these physical Loot Crates can vary depending on the source, for instance, a Marvel Comics Loot Crate subscription might contain a selection of merchandise (T-Shirts, Figurines, Posters, Stickers, Plushies, Key Rings, etc). Every month this merchandise will be focused upon a difference theme ie, Marvel Villains, Marvel Vehicles, Marvel Cities/Locations etc. On other occaisions the selection can be seemingly random; If a fan subscribed to a more general comic/manga crate service, then they would receive a variety of merchandise that involves multiple different franchises. The idea being that if they like the general theme of the crate then, chances are they will enjoy the majority of the crate.
For the most part Loot Crates can be relatively harmless, however there is often a more sinister undercurrent when it comes to online versions of the crates. Unlike the physical versions, which are mostly sustained by fan bases who are happy to buy little trinkets relating to their favourite show/film, the online versions can often deliver prizes that equate to a type of currency in the online game. This has been likened to gambling by many commenters, and when many of the fan base are children or young adults, there are concerns that they might normalise gambling outside of the game, IRL. CS:GO, Fortnite and Fifa Ultimate Team, are all hugely popular titles who have a dubious crate/card pack structure.
In the case of Fifa Ultimate Team the game is intrinsically linked to the internal marketplace, and you would struggle to play the game without participating, the game offers players the chance to earn their tokens through playing the game, or simply by buying them, which is far quicker. With these tokens the players then buy random packs of items; if the pack contains good items they can sell them to buy more packs, if the pack is a dud, then they will have to earn or buy the tokens again. Essentially, it is a digital scratch card, with no age restrictions, or quantity limitaions.
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