Curatorial Project: Exhibition of Online Games
MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
May 2001 - June 2002
In 2001, Alexander Galloway and I co-curated a selection of net-based games for MASS MoCA's Game Show exhibiton. By net-based games, we meant games which you play on the internet such as online poker. Game Show highlighted the abundance of artists' games created during the 1990s, featuring 19 works in four catgories: Games Visitors Play, Games Artists Play, Games Artists Orchestrate, and Net Games Now.
Jodi, SOD (2000)
Jodi is a collaboration between Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans. SOD is a first-person shooter-style game created on top of the Castle Wolfstein gaming engine. It uses a stark geometry of black and white polygons where other commercial games typically use vivid color and intricate backgrounds. The challenge of this game is negotiating the elements of a crudely rendered virtual world where objects are difficult to recognize.
Natalie Bookchin, The Intruder (1998-99)
Bookchin has created what looks like a game on the surface, but is a critique of gender relations as well as virtual and real violence. Bookchin's work is a series of ten games each containing a passage from the short story "The Intruder," by Jorge Louis Borges. The game makes the player an accomplice in the brutal tale of two brothers and their love for the same woman. Traditional video game scenarios dramatize the narrative throughout the ten levels, and ultimately the woman whom they both love is killed by the player in the guise of the older brother.
Thomson & Craighead, Trigger Happy (1998)
This game assumes the classic format of Space Invaders, but instead of shooting UFOs, the player must destroy a descending paragraph excerpted from Michel Foucalt's essay, "What is an Author?" In destroying the passage word by word the player metaphorically deconstructs Foucalt's text which itself deconstructs the idea of the author. After shooting a few words, a "Yahoo!" search page appears on the screen with results defined by the eradicated words. This forces the player back into the Internet, where the death of the author is enacted on a daily basis.
Maciej Wisniewski, Jackpot (1996)
Jackpot is a web-based slot machine. Three randomly selected web pages are displayed side by side under a heading with their top-level domains (.com, .org, .gov, .net, .edu etc.). A separate window in the form of a remote control appears. Clicking the "play" button on the remote loads three new top-level domains. Each click brings new, decontextualized, cropped and juxtaposed word fragments and images. When the three domains appearing at the top of the screen all match, a new page is loaded to signify the player's release from the information-laden Internet experience into the "real" world.
Lonnie Flickinger, Pencil Whipped (2000)
Blockbuster PC games are usually produced by teams of techno-wizards using proprietary game engines. Flickinger created Pencil Whipped alone using a commercially-available game development software package. Popular games have complex 3D environments in which to run, jump and shoot. Flickinger drew his scenery with a pencil. Where other games use involved audible elements, Flickinger created all sounds using his voice. This game is amazingly executed by an individual foreign to video game production, simultaneously creating a true example of "outsider art" and an "outsider video game."