The Norman Transcript

N-town Q/A

April 11, 2014

Q&A: Matthew Kaney’s work playful, insightful

NORMAN — by Hannah Cruz

Forget paint or clay, Norman resident Matthew Kaney creates art from virtual materials.

The University of Oklahoma art alumnus uses technology to build video game installations as a form of visual art. Each piece presents the player with a friendly way to grapple with a variety of contemporary issues.

Kaney is showing his work during an exhibit titled “All Fun & Games” at the Firehouse Art Center, 444 S. Flood Ave., through May 24. Two receptions are scheduled in conjunction with the show, 6-9 p.m. April 11 and 6-11 p.m. May 9 at the Firehouse.

For more information on Kaney visit

Q: What is your main goal when you’re doing a piece?

A: With the games and with a lot of my other interactive pieces, I generally have some sort of — not quite message — but some sort of idea or context that I want to communicate. With these games, each one is my attempt to illustrate some political issue, some sort of contemporary situation, through the lense of these game controls and through a bit of satire, a bit of deliberate reduction in that way, I guess.

I did a game where it runs on a desktop computer and you have this virtual farm land and it has virtual kudzu, and as this virtual kudzu grows the game keeps copying copies of kudzu leaves onto your hard drive into proportion to the game, literally filling up your hard drive with these kudzu. It’s a good example of something that uses the game form, not necessarily to achieve the traditional goals of the medium, but to offer a context or way of thinking about things.

Q: How do you go about building one of these games or installations?

A: Definitely the software comes first and usually I’ll start out with a sense of roughly how the game will be played. You need to have a wide view of what types of controls make sense, what kind of layout schemes — in broad strokes how the game will be played. That’s completely conceptual processing, just sketching and notes and ideas.

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