GVA: Why did you specifically choose a video game to make art? What do you find especially fascinating about this medium? Its interactivity? Agency? Aesthetics? Theatricality?
Baden Pailthorpe: I was mostly drawn to the very loaded politics of military games, especially first-person shooters. I spent many hours playing these games as a teenager, but as a student at University I began to understand the mechanics of the game in more complex terms. By treating the game as a sort of ready-made, in the Duchampian sense, a whole world of possibilities was opened up to critique the political and cultural assumptions that are bound up within the very carefully constructed world of video games.
GVA: The creative opportunities afforded by machinima are greatly constrained by existing copyright law, which prohibits many possible uses, including commercial purposes. What’s your take on the paradoxical nature of this artform?
Baden Pailthorpe: Machinima is an interesting practice since many game studios now actively encourage this practice for marketing purposes. So it is paradoxical indeed, but it now seems like games studios have identified the commercial benefits of using free labor from their users. I have not made any work in video games since 2013 now, but it still seems to be a rapidly evolving area that existing law struggles to keep up with.
GVA: Would you agree that machinima has democratized the art making process? Has it lowered the entry barrier for creators of video art, as some critics argue?
Baden Pailthorpe: I think video has been democratized for some time, and photography for even longer. And this idea has been around since Walter Benjamin, of course. But the barriers to art making are probably more complex than access the tools themselves. More broadly, the production of 'content' is now the dominant practice. Art still seems to be able to demarcate a special space for video art/machinima etc but the complex barriers within the art world remain.