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The Videogame Art Show That Wasn't Amusing

Tomorrow is the last day for the New Museum's videogame art show "Killer Instinct", not that it's recommended. I missed the Joe McKay/Kristin Lucas gaming show in the same location in 2001 (the museum's hard-to-hang-out-in Media Z Lounge) but I know some of the work (e.g., McKay's Audio Pong) and it's way more fun, and way less pretentious, than this. You are greeted at the entrance of "Killer Instinct" with a selection of Brody Condon's "fake screenshots," which are lackluster collages mounted on foamcor or sintra board1: I'm revealing my own ignorance/apathy that I don't know if it's the games or the shots that are "fake." Next you encounter a sub-Kenny Scharf, faux ultraviolet installation by Condon & Shih Chieh Huang consisting of agglomerations of plastic toys and containers of water (connected by myriad tubes) with some SEGA type game imagery not doing much on a screen. This looked like bad outsider art. Anne-Marie Schleiner's piece was frozen, the video in Eddo Stern's sculpture was barely moving, and in another Stern piece, the sound only worked in one earpiece in each of the two sets of headphones hanging from a duct-taped rack2 (different ears malfunctioned in each). The Cory Arcangel/Paul B. Davis hacked Nintendo cartridge piece was nice, but shoved over in a dark corner discouraging lingering. Tom Betts's big screen installation work of fragmented, negatively-inverted game elements was hyperactive and psychedelic, but didn't live up to the curators' hype:

[The work] explores how artists translate the aesthetics and tactics of gaming culture into real space and real time--and how this new kind of fluid cinematic "gaming space" affects participants' behavior and experience.
Mostly you stood there and worked three buttons until you figured out what formal elements were being manipulated by which buttons, and then you watched the light show. As far as "gaming space," as a friend pointed out, the console was set ridiculously far back from the screen so you never got the full-on immersive experience. Maybe that was the point, but it made it less entertaining. As for the ymRockers game music compilation, that would probably be more effective as a download or CD than a non-interactive art piece that you sit and listen to sequentially through headphones. I know I left out a few things but I wanted to get out of that show pronto so I didn't take notes. This was a perfect example of the type of hybrid exhibit with no appeal to either constituency it supposedly represents (too formally sloppy for the art world, too "deconstructed"--and not fun enough--for gamers). Way to go.

1. The board looked denser than foamcor but lighter than sintra, with some kind of metallic color around the edges(?) Just trying to be accurate in this on-the-fly reporting.

2. Again, it wasn't exactly duct tape, it just gave the same slapdash impression. Where the headphone wires entered the rack somebody had done a bad splice job with white electrician's tape. There's good nerdy and bad nerdy but this was the latter.

- tom moody 2-15-2004 12:16 am [link] [7 comments]