5 Questions for Thorsten S. Wiedemann

Thorsten S. Wiedemann
Thorsten S. Wiedemann | Photo: Franziska Sinn

Thorsten S. Wiedemann is the creative mind and initiator of A MAZE. Interact Festival. In this Q&A session, he talks about what A MAZE. is all about, Jump ’n’ Run parties, and why he chose Johannesburg as a venue.

Thorsten, thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, on the occasion of the kick-off event. How was the idea for A MAZE. Interact conceived and why did you choose this particular name for the festival?

A MAZE. has been running since 2008 and the name says it all: through INTERACTion and participation, we want to AMAZE people with games, art and technology. We started out with small events, such as the A MAZE. Jump ’n’ Run party. In 2010, we took the concept of celebrating the convergence of games, art and technology to an international level, in cooperation with Clubtransmediale - CTM 10 in Berlin. The cooperation marked the stepping stone for the festival´s continued success.

Why did you choose Johannesburg as a venue?

Pippa Tshabalala, former presenter of the gaming show The Verge on vuzu.tv asked me if I was interested in staging the festival in Johannesburg. BANG, there it was! At closer inspection, parallels can be found between the two cities. While the initial idea was to do a once-off event in Johannesburg, the goal is now to establish an annual platform with international reach that unites game designers, media and performance artists as well as musicians in one place to showcase games and media art. Partnering with the Goethe–Institut in Johannesburg (As part of their New Imaginaries series) has enabled us to take the first step in developing a successful recurring platform, with local partners like University of the Witwatersrand, University of Johannesburg and VANSA.

Let’s do this together!

How does the South African games- and media art scene differ from the one in Germany?

In terms of quality, the growing games- and media art scene in South Africa is in no way inferior to the German and international scenes. The South African scene is less interconnected and visible – this is where the festival can make a positive difference. Furthermore, the festival wants to encourage artists to develop collaborative projects that will premiere at A MAZE. Interact.

Does the festival address the general public or does it rather cater to an insider group of game designers and fans?

A MAZE. Interact wants to provide a public space for EVERYONE interested in analogue and digital gaming experiences – a playground for creative minds and a pool of experience for theorists and other interested parties. Street games, lectures, exhibition, cinema, concert and party running from 28 August – 2 September 2012 are accessible to the public. Excluded are workshops because of limited number of participants and required programming skills.

What is the jump ’n’ run party all about?

A MAZE. Jump ’n´ Run was the first format of A MAZE. A recurring meeting of game designers, game design students, media artists and musicians in Berlin. We used to transform the bar area into a miniature gaming arcade and thus created an additional scope for the bar. At a later stage, it was introduced as a jump ’n’ run bonus cheat, incorporating interactive installations, audio-visual content, DJs and live music performances – A MAZE grew into an interactive and participatory party concept.