- Update Project (µ7 w17h 7h3...
- Curatorial Project: Video Game Glitch
Update Project (µ7 w17h 7h3...
Maud Lauvin writes that Hannah Hoch's _Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany_ photomontage "though seemingly as chaotic as the Dada-Messe itself... is a remarkably concise and elgeant work that functions as a Dadaist manifesto on the politics of Weimar society." One immediately noticeable aspect of the work is the sense of motion - there are dancers, crowds, wheels, and a general busyness about the piece. This sense of movement can be seen as representative of the destabilizing, revolutionary potential and power Hoch believed Dada-ism possesed. The gears and other technological images reference the large influence of tecnhology on society and its potential to bring about movement and change. Also scattered through the piece are Dada slogans created from newspaper clippings. Another device she uses throughout the work is the recombined (or disembodied) head and body. Hoch's clever combination of photos and clippings combined with her sense of humor and satire produce a busy, complex commentary on her society and Dada-ism during this turbulent time.
In my updated work, I have tried to use some of Hoch's techniques from her collage to create a collage of my own (on a much smaller-scale) that has a similar aesthetic, but with materials and subject matter updated for the preset day. Instead of Dada, I am examining New Media and its role in our society today. Like Hoch, I tried to make my piece busy, with a dense collage of images, videos, text, and links. I've tried to maintain her sense of humor as well, through my choice of material, l33t title, and arrangement. I also tried to use some similar images to reference back to Hoch's collage. There is a gear near the center of my collage, but now the gear has a micro-chip stuck on it, for instance. (I even included an image of myself in the bottom corner as a sort of signature, which Hoch did in her collage). The upper-left hand section of my collage corresponds to the same region of Hoch's, where she had created satirical images of current leaders. I hope to have captured the spirit of Hoch's work, but for the realm of New Media and contemporary US society.
Video game glitch art appropriates video games and video game systems and finds ways to make the games glitch, taking what usually would be an annoyance to a gamer and making it into art. Some glitch art involves exploiting bugs that exist within a games code, while other artworks hack or modify the hardware or software. The pieces here take a couple different forms, being either a form of video art or a playable game mod.
One interesting note about these art works is that many of them share their source code, hacking process, offer the mod they created for download, etc. This mentality is due to the mix of gamer and hacker attitidues, both of which promote sharing. For instance, gamers are enthusiastic about the games they play and want to share interesting bugs, mods, and tricks they find in games with others, which can be seen from the large number of websites dedicated to sharing this gaming information.
The 'NES Glitch Compilation' is exactly what the title says - a video compilation of glitches that occured over several years while the artist was playing various games on his Nintendo Entertainment System. The video is approximately thirty minutes long, with clips of various video game glitches fading in and out. Because of the age of the technology (the NES was first released in 1985), the images are very square and blocky. The images are made up of scrambled graphics from the game, letters, numbers, and blocks of color. Sometimes, recognizable graphics or pieces of text from the game are visible. Simarly, the audio from the games is often scrambled and noisy, or even just a static hum. Occasionaly, bits of recognizable sound effects or music remain intact.
This artwork is firmly rooted in video game nostalgia. To the generation that grew up playing video games in the 1980's, the sounds and images in this video are familiar ones. Inevtiably, game cartridges would get old or dusty and occasionally glitch. The artist himself states "I was born in 1983, so computers and gameboys and video tapes have grown up with me." This video captures this familiar occurence in a piece of video art. Although some not familiar with older video game systems may find the images intriguing, I think it especially compelling for those with nostalgia for the NES and other video game systems of its generation.
The 'Circuit Beng NES' is very similar in style to the 'NES Glitch Compilation'. It produces the same type of glitchy visuals from various NES games. The major difference between these two pieces is the form. The 'NES Glitch Compilation' is a video compiled from glitches that accidentally occured while the artist was playing NES games. The 'Circuit Bent NES' is an actual NES system that has been intentionally hacked to create these glitchy visuals. The hacked system includes various added switches, dials, and buttons, and it is intended to be used as video accompaniment for live performance of chiptunes. (Chiptunes refers to music created from chips in older video game systems, such as the NES or Atari systems). So, like the 'NES Glitch Compilation', this piece is also firmly rooted in nostalgia, since fans of the Chiptune genre is largely made up of people with fond memories of these older video game systems. Also of note is the face that the artist posts circuit diagrams, images of the hardware, and a basic description of the process he used to make the system. This is very much on par with with the communal nature of the glitch movement, as others could theoretically make their own system.
'Untitled Game' is a series of fourteen hacks/modifications of the popular 1996 first-person-shooter computer game, Quake. The mods do not require the viewer to own a copy of Quake, are free to download on jodi.org, and the source code for the mods is also posted on the website. Game mods were and are a common practice for popular games, and Quake had its fair share of mods. While these mods usually introduced new maps or modes for gamers, Jodi's mods deconstruct the game and its virtual space, creating glitchy, abstact, and often disorienting visuals, as well as removing the HUD (Heads-Up Display).
Each mod hacks or glitches the game in a different way. In 'Ctrl-9', for instance, the player is in a large cube, with moving black and white patterns all along the inside surface. This patter is the result of a glitch "generated live as the Quake engine tries, and fails, to visualize the interior of a cube with black-and-white checked wallpaper," (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jodi.org). In 'Q-9', the player is in what appears to be a cave from a map in the game, but the player's view flickers around so frantically that navigating the map becomes near impossible. Also on the screen are various numbers, presumably data that is being processed by the game/mod. The game menu remains, but has all the text of the options has been scrambled.
'Untitled Game' takes a common practice, game modding, and uses it to create an abstract piece of glitchy software art. Some of the mods are more interesting than others, but on a whole, they tend to create fairly complex and interesting visuals. The fact that this is a mod, and not just a video or series of images, enhances the work by leaving it in its original medium. This allows the player to explore the virtual space and the nature of the glitch.
'Prepared Playstation' has been shown in a couple of different forms. The first version uses the PS game 'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4' and has presented as both a live 3-channel video mix and also a 3-channel video installation. The second version uses the PS Game 'Tony Hawk's Underground 2' and is a 4-channel video installation. The game has not been altered or hacked, so the original sound effects and the soundtrack of rock and rap music remain. Each video channel in the installations shows a different scene that has been prepared by using rubber bands to hold down buttons on PlayStation controllers. This creates loops as the in game character continuously skates around, and the scenes are prepared in such a way that glitches occur while the character is skating.
The visual glitches created vary. In one scene, the skateboarder is trapped in a skating around in a small area, causing the camera to move around frantically, and the parts of the character's body sometimes go through the walls of the map. In another scene, a glitch is exploited so that the camera is inside of a character, and we see the textures of its head from the inside, creating an abstract and a bit disturbing image. In yet another scene, the character is continuously skatingon a pipe, perputually gaining points, and the camera is at such an angle that it passes through bits of the map, causing quick flashes of different colors and textures to appear. The images in this scene are very jagged and glitchty, but also can be quite beautiful. In one more scene, the character is continuously rotating on top of a pole, racking up points in a never-ending spin.
The artist wrote about this piece that "I wanted to do something in the same spirit as when Nam June Paik put the magnet on top of the TV," (http://www.eai.org/eai/tape.jsp?itemID=7984). In a similar fashion, he has appropriated a video game system and exploited bugs in it to create and abstract piece of video art.
'Q-Q-Q' is another hack of the popular first-persoon-shooter, Quake. The artist has modified the graphics and audio code to manipulate the game maps, creating "abstract architectural forms; players paint afterimage trails and motion smears," (http://q-q-q.net/qqq1.htm). The deconstructed visuals are extremely abstracted and dynamic, with images overlapping each other as the player moves around, glitching objects, unusual color schemes. This piece has been shown as an installation, where the game is projected onto a large screen and viewers are provided with a keybaord and mouse to play the hacked version of the game. Online gamers are also present in the game while the installation is shown, so people at the installation can join together with unseen online players in a sort of joint virtual art performance. 'Q-Q-Q' is in a similar vein to Jodi's 'Untitled Game', but it uses a newer version of Quake, and instead of being several simpler mods, is one larger, much more complex mod.
'Reflections 2003' is a series of free maps for the popular computer first-person-shooter, Unreal Tournament 2003. These maps require the player to own a copy of the original game, and they can be played alone or online with other players over a LAN or the internet. The maps exploit a bug in the game that occurs when mirrors are placed facing each other. The glitch occurs as the computer tries to replicate the infinite reflections that would occur in such a situation in real life, creating complex, glitchy visuals. The images are somewhat similar to the real-life situation, consiting of a large number of overlapping reflections. The mirros reflect everything from players' avatars, to objects in the map and even shockwaves from firing weapons. This results in dense, busy, chaotic visuals. Simple, elegant shapes sometimes emerge, such as a circle made out of overlapping reflections of a player's gun, as seen below.