Space Invaders @ Nikolaj Kunsthal
Last Friday I went to the opening of the show Space Invaders at Nikolaj Kunsthal in the city. I must confess that part of my attendance was related to the fact that my game The Artist Is Present is part of the exhibition. And then, of course, there’s the matter of the curator being a friend. And then, of course, there’s the matter of it being a contemporary art gallery devoting a show to video games. All different kinds of awesome.
The show itself has an excellent variety of pieces, many of them playable – you’d have to go and see it to get the effect, really, I’m not going to try to catalog it all. Well okay, maybe one or two…
There’s an interesting video work of cosplayers in China by, I believe, Cao Fei and titled Cosplayers. In essence it shows us a series of mostly urban tableaux with cosplayers either posing or moving through. It’s interesting because of the ambiguous (to me) attitude the film takes to the cosplayers themselves. My first take was that it depicted a kind of narrative of these (faux) superheros as they came from a rural area (briefly featured at the beginning) into the city, and then had this kind of disaffected and less-than-heroic existence there. But then also also wondered how “seriously” the film took the cosplayers. There was a particular shot where you see a line of golden-armoured dudes standing there, and then a herd of cattle just walks past. There’s no denying it’s a pretty amusing framing and so on – but what’s the relationship between the film and the cosplayers, then?
There’s a bunch of other stuff, but one I was particularly keen on seeing was The Night Journey by Bill Viola in collaboration with the USC EA Game Innovation Lab. I’ve only had a bit of time with it, but certainly am interested in getting more. It’s a black and white affair with a soundscape, and you navigate around on a standard controller controlling movement and camera location in standard console-FPS fashion. It has an odd effect where moving the camera at all causes everything to blur massively and it’s only when you sit still that you can see anything – oddly pleasing sensation.
Finally, of course, I did have a chance to see The Artist is Present installed in a gallery which was pretty fun. It’s pretty hilarious and wonderful that the gallery closes (usually) at 5pm, and MoMA opens at 4:30pm Copenhagen time. So there’s generally only 30 minutes that the galleries are open simultaneously, and in that time you need to get through the queue in the game, rendering it basically impossible. The notion of a gallery locked inside another gallery and both in different timezones is pretty great, right?