Art imitating life imitating art, Atari-style | Bleader

Art imitating life imitating art, Atari-style


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Screenshot of 'The Artist Is Present' by Pippin Barr
  • Screenshot of "The Artist Is Present" by Pippin Barr

Expressive 8-bit video games on the internet: Good for more than just nostalgia (although they are very good for that). One such game lets you experience the discomfort of a year-old performance art show at New York's Museum of Modern Art from the comfort of your own cubicle/desk/lap. And in jazzy colored blocks, too!

The performance art was Marina Abramovic's "The Artist is Present," in which she sat in a MoMA gallery for hours on end as the public was invited to line up for a chance to sit and be stared at by Abramovic. As far as I could tell, it was the most buzzed-about show in the art world last year, or at least the most affecting.

The game is Pippin Barr's "The Artist is Present," and it aims to approximate the experience of attending the exhibit by having the user walk into MoMA, purchase a ticket, walk through galleries hung with (pixelated) art, and wait their turn to stand across from a digital version of Abramovic. You're supposed to wait and wait and wait and then nothing happens and it's beautiful—just like in real life! (Barr talks about the game in an interview with Runnin' Scared.)

In fact, the game does quite a good job of showing you the exhibit as it really was. I started the game at 4:37 PM on Friday, and after purchasing my $25 ticket (what a rip off, even for Monopoly money) I made my way to the back of the line, stopping briefly along the way to look at a few 8-bit van Goghs. Soon bored from waiting, I started bumping into the guy in front of me. Big mistake, buddy—security promptly kicked me out and I had to walk aaall the way back to the line again. Then the clock turned 4:30 (that's 5:30 eastern), and the museum closed. Argh! My character is still standing outside the doors, waiting patiently to be let back in. She could be there all night, which, by the way, totally happened IRL.

Like all great art, it raises some veeery important questions: Is it a video game? (But nothing happens!) Is it art? (But it's a video game!) Just make sure you're asking between 10:30 AM and 5:30 PM, eastern time.

[via Runnin' Scared.]

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