How do you peacefully engage a first-person shooter video game? That’s the question University of Waterloo graduate student Christian Metaxas addressed in his final project for the English Master of Arts in Experimental Digital Media (XDM). Titled Assembly: Peacemaker, Metaxas’s project appeared at Kitchener’s Themuseum, and was featured in the Record. Read on for an interview with Christian and more images from the project. Thank you to Christian for participating in Words in Place.–JLH
JLH: What drew you to University of Waterloo’s English MA program in XDM?
CM: I came across XDM while researching various graduate programs. I spent a lot of time on the internet growing up, so naturally the program appealed to me that way. University of Waterloo PhD students Evelyn Deshane and Travis Morton were my upperclassmen at Trent, so I asked them if I could visit them in Waterloo and if they could show me around the campus. It all felt like a near perfect fit for me academically. I didn’t apply to any other graduate programs.
JLH: How did you find your cohort of graduate students?
CM: I was worried that there would be a weird, hyper-competitive edge but that hasn’t really been the case at all. Pretty much everyone I have met from my year is smart, friendly and engaging. Getting to study with such cool people definitely added to the experience.
JLH: Can you tell us a bit about how your final MA project came to be?
CM: One night I accidentally got off the bus three stops too early and had to wait another half hour or so for the next one. I was just sort of dancing by the side of the road, listening to music, when it all clicked in my brain. The installation evolved with each academic term, finally getting realized as Assembly: Peacemaker. Every XDM class I took was awesome, each gave me something new that I used to help shape the project.
JLH: What kind of response have you had?
CM: People didn’t have too much to say about Peacemaker, but I think that’s a good thing. For me the project is an autobiographical expression, but it’s also about taking that aggressive violence and transforming it–showing people a quiet sort of beauty. People that find themselves feeling curious, or seeing things differently, is what I aim for.
JLH: Any thoughts on what you will do next?
CM: Not too sure, something pretty I hope.