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It’s time to confront the uncanny potential of virtual architecture

A room enclosed on all sides sits naked in grayspace. Inside is a trunk, a bed, a tube, a radiator, a light, and little else. A sharp sound swells and suddenly the room snaps out of place. Now it is upside-down. You can’t even enter through the open doorway, barely able to peer inside through the window, the objects once sat neatly now thrown into disarray across a ceiling that is now a floor. The sound comes again and the room changes, again. It sits as it did before, at the center of a square cut of rock floating in a…

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FPS has something to say about videogames and guns. But what?

Hugo Arcier’s FPS is about last year’s attacks in Paris, though it is not immediately clear in precisely what way. We know this because the artist says as much on his website: “FPS is a post November 2015 Paris attacks art piece. The artist deals with blindness hijacking video game codes, in particular of first person shooter game. The only visible elements are pyrotechnic effects, gunshots, muzzles flashes, sparks, impacts, smokes.” In practice, what that means is that a black space is lit up by flares from something vaguely resembling a videogame gun. They linger in the air, like lasers at…

Post-Apocalyptic Abramovic Method Game
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In the post-apocalypse, there will still be performance art

Back in 2013, Lady Gaga quit smoking by employing the “Abramovic Method” during a three-day retreat in New York. It led to this extraordinary (and NSFW) video, in which Gaga is seen chanting into an empty room, stood blindfolded in a river to feel the rain drops against her skin, and getting intimate with a big block of ice while completely naked. The video achieved what it was supposed to: encouraging everyone who watched it and the public-at-large to question what this peculiar Method she went through was. The “Abramovic Method” is named after its creator, famed artist and self-proclaimed “grandmother…

Eveline
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A videogame that tricks you into reading literature

The puzzle island of The Witness, released back in January, contains a theater in which you can unlock and watch movie clips. Among the documentaries and interviews about science progression and spiritual awakening is the last 10 minutes of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia (1983). Since it’s been discovered, chatter has spread across the internet from people first discovering the Russian film-maker, not just hoping to discuss what the Nostalghia clip could mean in the context of The Witness, but also showing an appreciation for the artistry of the film’s ending too. In this case, the game has acted as conduit, introducing its players to…

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What if all videogames were Breakout?

Pippin Barr is a stalwart example of a videogame scientist. He’s one of only a few who fit that title—people who constantly experiment with videogames, testing their boundaries, remixing their components, taking curious lines of thought to their furthest iteration. Take his latest as an example. Called Indie Bungle 2: Breakout Indies, it imagines for us the games that a “shitty cloning company” (specializing in clones of games to turn a profit and not, say, sheep or humans) would make had it only the technology to produce variations of Atari’s 1976 arcade classic Breakout. This idea didn’t come out of nowhere.…

A Series of Gunshots
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A Series of Gunshots calls out senseless gun violence in games

In the narrowest of senses, Pippin Barr’s A Series of Gunshots is a shoot ‘em up. All you do is fire a gun. The game has no other mechanics or activities. It is, however, the farthest thing possible from a traditional shoot ‘em up. A Series of Gunshots is composed of a series of gunshots. Who’d have thought it? The game consists of a series of black and white scenes. No humans can be seen. Do they even exist in this world? Press a key—any key other than spacebar. A gun goes off. The shot is heard. A window in…

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Pippin Barr’s virtual art gallery contains no art, but lots of questions

When 3D spaces were popularized in videogames it led to a new kind of energy bubbling up through creative pores. Those who worked within the medium had a whole new avenue to explore—all this extra space, and what to do with it? No longer did illusions have be figured out, but actual working 3D spaces could be furnished and design bent around the new challenges they brought. Classic architecture such as Doom‘s haunting sci-fi corridors and Resident Evil‘s labyrinthine mansion were invented within this era, becoming archetypes for years to come. It’s typical of Pippin Barr, then, for his first…