conversation

I am interested in what people do when they can do just about anything.

Sebastian Sebulec in conversation with Maja Demska

  • Maja Demska: What game have you been playing lately?
  • Sebastian Sebulec: Skyrim, over 300 mods. Im totally into it.
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  • I have no idea what this means. How would you explain it to someone who has never played?
  • It is a game that is ten years old, but has remained extremely popular because it is open to modifications. Users keep improving textures, light, and models, so the game looks and feels like something that has been released this year rather than back in 2011. A large community has developed around it, with dozens of new mods being added every day.
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  • Mods being
  • Modifications. Everything can be modded: from objects, through ways of moving, combat mechanics, to locations, missions, entire worlds. Mods are all those extra, modified functions which werent present in the original, or “vanilla, version of the game.
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  • Vanilla as in “vanilla sex? I guess modifying the game involves introducing various adult themes, doesnt it?
  • Sure, there exists a whole world of adult mods. You can flirt with existing characters. You can do BDSM. You can make sex with all the creatures inhabiting the game giants, dragons, mammoths, great insects, earth and fire elements. . . All the while retaining the RPG mechanics, i.e. quest pursuit, game-world exploration, and character development.
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  • Is it precisely the possibility of modification, of tweaking the rules governing a world designed by somebody else, that appeals to you in video games?
  • I guess so. I got quickly bored with Cyberpunk 2077 because without the chaotic element it is a bit like a game without a soul. I am interested in what people do when they can do just about anything. Some conjure up sophisticated kinds of magic, others want a wife-kids-dog set-up in the game and create mods like that.
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  • Cultural constructs of masculinity are one of the apparent themes in your exhibition. What is the male archetype in fantasy games?
  • What is actually nice about fantasy games is that there is no default identity. I play various kinds of characters: it may be a big pumped-up ork that wreaks havoc or an elf magician. But certainly the figure of the male warrior dominates among the NPCs, or “non-player characters. As far as creature mods are concerned, options for female characters are far more developed probably most guys are simply excited to be able to create their own perfect beauty in a game. But character creation is not limited to people only; you can play using a race of cats or lizards, the Skyrim equivalent of furries.
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  • Furries are another key theme of the show. Who are these furry creatures and how did you get interested in them?
  • Browsing through DeviantArt, I happened upon a recurring motif of anthropomorphic creatures and got sucked into the world. It is an incredibly diverse and colourful community, with its own websites packed with fan art, costumes, events and so on. In Poland, furries are little known, and if the name rings a bell, it is usually in the context of porn. For me, it is simply a fandom of human-like furry creatures as well as an opportunity to become one of them.
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  • DeviantArt is a site where many different fandoms coexist. What got you particularly interested in furries?
  • That how deeply people get into it, and how many beautiful things are created as a result. That they feel safe to share their work there because no one is going to judge them. The incredible variety of genres and styles, from the simplest, most trashy drawings to ultra-professional renders. And all are warmly received! It is creative freedom embodied.
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  • How was it to shift from the virtual world to the material one?
  • I had long felt like making some art in the studio, with my own hands. During the pandemic, me being stuck in front of the computer, that feeling got even stronger. I began with characters, rendering them in 3D graphics software, my most natural work environment. I watched a lot of videos about resin-printing and painting Warhammer figurines. I wanted my sculptures to be super-smooth and to resemble porcelain, so I spent hours polishing. Painting was a big challenge too; unlike in graphics editors, you cannot just press Ctrl+Z in the real world.
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  • What intrigues me as a non-player is the plethora of gadgets emerging around games. Gamers seem to feel a strong need to materialize this virtual world.
  • Figurines, cosplay they are an expression of fascination with a universe. Playing, I immerse myself completely in this world, I want to know the whole lore, or backstory, of the game. The very process of making fan art makes you feel closer to what you are into. Sculpting, I feel a much closer bond with furries than if a furry stood next to me. The collecting aspect matters too. Searching for and picking up unique items is a frequent feature in games. Hence perhaps the need to collect figurines?
  • Objects affect the senses differently than the screen, engaging the sense of touch. One particularly sensual material is fur, which has given the exhibition its title.
  • What is in the show is this colourful, fabulous faux fur. Friendly to the touch, rainbowy, queer. A fur to make a furry costume, or “fursuit. But for me fur is also an attribute of masculinity; body hair: a super-male sex characteristic. The appearance of fur in the process of transition is an important moment for the trans-man and a major visual change. It is great that the same material fur can be at the same time super-masculine and queer, a common denominator for a gym hunk, a trans-boy, and someone walking around in a rainbow wolf costume.
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  • Fur appears on the screen too as animation.
  • Working daily in 3D, I wanted to explore more deeply the possibilities that the technology offers. The software has dynamic scripts and you can do all kinds of simulations. There is something both disturbing and fascinating about creating organic textures be it hyperrealistic hair or characters in a digital world.
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  • Endless possibilities of modification in the virtual world and a fully inclusive community is this the recipe for a queer utopia worthy of our age?
  • I am not sure I could have put it better myself. This exhibition is an opportunity to spend some time with friendly sexy creatures. You do not need to ponder on the significance of fur, just chill out and be with them in the glow of the setting sun on rainbow island.