Last Friday night was the culminating ceremony for “Doomslangers,” a project by Casey Jex Smith that premiered at the Allegra LaViola Gallery on East Broadway. The event marked the end of a 3-day, live action Dungeons and Dragons tournament in the gallery’s basement. Leading up to the tournament, eight artists had been invited by Casey Jex Smith to play in a long-distance D&D campaign, which took place over a period of five months. The gamers participated from various parts of the country using videochat and were asked to make art in reaction to their experience.
LaViola, the gallery’s owner, told me how Smith proposed the idea to her: “He has known most of the guys since college and had an idea about retaining the sense of community they had then–but over the web and by playing D & D. He had some great ideas, including playing D & D in the basement, which was turned into a sort of suburban rec-room.”
Friday night’s opening showcased the basement space that had been used as the tournament room – along with artwork from the nine gamers, many of them artists in their own right, including performance art, sculpture, painting, and video art.
One gamer, Gian Pierotti, performed some songs written specifically for characters of the D & D Campaign. Then there was the battle against Lord Ricaek, who has been the “enemy” of the fighters for the last five months. “Casey created an installation of Lord Ricaek that included blood and guts, so when he was attacked he had a rather spectacular demise,” said LaViola.
Visitors were invited to “come dressed as their favorite D&D character or monster, participate in the final battle against Lord Ricaek, drink heal and mana potions, and hear music by acclaimed bard, Lark Dreambow.” The Dungeons and Dragons theme essentially tied the whole night together, and Smith himself came appropriately costumed for the entire 3 days.
LaViola says that the most interesting thing she learned about the Dungeons and Dragons game was “the imagination that it requires in order to navigate the game. Unlike a board game or video game, you must invent a lot of your actions, and if you aren’t able to decide on a course of action you can perish!”
Although the tournament is over, the gallery is still showing all of the artwork until December 3rd.