Starting this weekend and running until October 4th, Blizzard Entertainment and the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California will host "WoW: Emergent Media Phenomenon", an exhibit focused on World of Warcraft artwork.

Curated by the museum's Grace Kook-Anderson and Blizzard's Tim Campbell, the exhibit will have three main components: the official art and history of World of Warcraft, fan art, and artists who use the MMORPG as inspiration for their work.

For that third component, the curators selected fourteen international artists with the following themes in mind: elements of desire, the collapse of fantasy, medievalism, creative critiques, and public intervention. Those artists were tasked with taking on "the visual marker of World of Warcraft to consider, implications of gaming, and their greater impact on our culture."

The participating artists include several talented employees from Blizzard such as Creative Development SVP Chris Metzen, art director Sam Didier, art director Chris Robinson, senior art director Justin Thavirat, and senior graphic artist Roman Kenney; as well as notables like John Klima, Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn (Tale of Tales), and many more.

The museum has scheduled the artists to present several programs during the exhibit's run:

Sunday, June 14 at 1:00 PM - Zeng Han is a photographer based in Guangzhou, China who has just completed a semester at School of Visual Arts in New York. Zeng will be discussing the concept of "soulstealers" in his work.

Saturday, July 11 at 1:00 PM - Aram Bartholl's WoW workshop will be held the day before his lecture. Bartholl will extend the project shown in the exhibition out onto the streets of Laguna Beach. Everyone is welcome to participate and enjoy an afternoon of art making and have the opportunity to be involved in a collaborative performance. The workshop and performance will be documented on video, and the edited version will be shown in the exhibition.

Sunday, July 12 at 1:00 PM - Aram Bartholl, based in Berlin, is interested in the way network data manifests into the everyday world. Bartholl investigates this in the physical space through performance, installation, and video. With World of Warcraft, Bartholl investigates this manifestation through the one of the most popular online role-playing games.

Sunday, July 26 at 1:00 PM - Jacqueline Goss, based in New York, creates film and video in order to explore the ways we think about ourselves through systemic machines, like politics, culture, and science. Goss will talk about her work in game space, animation, and the documentary form.

Sunday, August 16 at 1:00 PM - Robert Nideffer, "Playing with Bosch". Robert Nideffer, based in Irvine, will compare the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch that illustrate fantasy with religious narratives with the images in World of Warcraft.

Sunday, September 13 at 1:00 PM - Antoinette LaFarge, based in Long Beach, questions the mode of fiction through performance, digital media, games, and writing. In this way, LaFarge looks at World of Warcraft and other role-playing games as one way of constructing a fictional narrative.

Thursday, October 1, UC Irvine, TBA - This forum will include artists Antoinette LaFarge, Robert Nideffer, Eddo Stern, and Jeff Chamberlain, the cinematics project lead at Blizzard Entertainment. The forum will be moderated by the associate director at UCI's Beall Center for Art and Technology, David Familian.

Bartholl's collaborative performance sounds particularly interesting! I presume this is a preview of what to expect from the workshop:

The museum will also give out a 44-page illustrated booklet at the exhibit with essays from the curators and participating artist Eddo Stern. You can find more information on the exhibit and the exhibition passes (which offers game/art bonuses depending on your pass level) at the Laguna Art Museum's official site.