Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start

Video Games as Performance Art

Pippin Barr, Wafaa Bilal, Mary Flanagan, Knut Hybinette, Paolo Pedercini, Troy Richards, Dana Sperry
May 17 - July 19, 2013

This May through July, SPACES hosts an unusual exhibition of performance art-featuring works that use the framework of video games to create performances. These works vary from interactive long-distance performances that are directed by viewers/players, to video art created by documenting video game performances, indie video games that invite players to perform within the presented framework, and classic video games that highlight the performative nature of this interactive art form.

Performance art often centers around the artist's body improvising within parameters or working through a set of directions. Video games set the stage for a dual performance of the player's subtle physical dance of fingers across a controller and the virtual movements of pixel bodies. In Dana Sperry's video First Person Shooter, a player's face is illuminated only by the pulsating glow of a first person shooter video game. Her eyes dart back and forth and her face slightly twists as the game becomes more difficult. This is a documented micro-performance choreographed by the action on the screen.

Wafaa Bilal's contribution is a documentation of a performance that took place in Chicago's FlatFile Galleries in 2007. Domestic Tension, had Bilal, an Iraqi, living in the gallery for one month, while a mounted paintball gun was controlled by users via the internet. Bilal and the gallery were pelted by yellow paintballs over the course of the month as people took the opportunity to shoot an Iraqi.

Pippin Barr's quirky internet-based games use the form of video games to critique both gaming culture and the art world. In The Artist is Present, named after the noted Marina Abramović at the Museum of Modern Art (2010), the player arrives at MoMA to attend the exhibition. After waiting in line for a ticket, the player then joins an interminable queue to get the opportunity to sit with the pixilated Abramović. Rather than a game of action, it is a game of patience that points toward the performances and frameworks that surround the art.

Visitors to Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start will have the opportunity to act out their own performances through artist-created games and arcade classics through July 19, 2013.

Note: "Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start," also known as the "Konami Code," is a cheat code for some video games that allows players to immediately gain hundreds of lives or unlock "easter eggs"-special surprises or hidden game modes.

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This project is a part of the SPACES R&D Program.

The R&D (Research & Development) program invites artists, curators and other cultural producers to articulate their research and development of ideas and objects through a supported exhibition or project. These exhibitions and projects may be group, solo, or collaborative endeavors.

Artists, Apply for this Program.

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