Let's Play: OuterIslands Online
with Johann Yamin
OuterIslands Online is a livestreamed digital tour of the Singapore and Malaysia-themed locations in the online game, MapleStory, specifically from its Southeast Asian server.
The South Korean online game MapleStory (2003–present) holds a multitude of worlds within worlds. While its 2D pixel art, time-consuming gameplay, and anime-inspired graphics are now gazed upon with nostalgia, the videogame still embodies realms of role-playing fantasy, digital kinship, and flows of currency—virtual and otherwise—for many millennial youth growing up in the 2000s. Launched in 2005, MapleStory’s Southeast Asian server (known as MapleSEA) features Singapore and Malaysia-themed locations populated by black slime enemies.
Yamin’s exploration of MapleSEA, OuterIslands Online, borrows its name from the shifting meaning of the term Nusantara. Through the question of a “Southeast Asian” online game server that excludes most other Southeast Asian territories, the livestream considers the dissolution of essentialist ideas about Southeast Asia as regional construct. OuterIslands Online complicates static regional boundaries by inhabiting the sticky viscosities of digital worlds as realms for alternate imaginations of place and time.
The digital tour will be followed by a conversation with SAM curator Duncan Bass. This session is held in conjunction with the series Open Systems Broadcasts.
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Johann Yamin’s projects have taken shape as essays, moving image installations, and text-based videogames, alongside curatorial work and other forms of support. His writing and research focus on emerging media, digital cultures, and histories of technology. He was previously Curatorial & Research Resident at the Singapore Art Museum in 2021, and a 2020 Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future Fellow at Eyebeam, New York for co-organising the online project, Pulau Something.
Open Systems Broadcasts is a series of interactive live-streams exploring video games in and as contemporary art. Featuring artists, designers, and curators, Broadcasts are hosted via Twitch.tv/opensystems and adopt the platform’s presentation formats such as ‘Let’s Play’ and ‘Just Chatting.’ The live and interactive programmes aim to disrupt the formality of traditional artist talks, presentations, and Q&A sessions by incorporating real time comments and questions.