Full Impact - Unified Soul Ejector Resource by Kit
F-USER: Full Impact -
Unified Soul Ejector Resource by Kit by
Espace Magazine, February issue,1997,
F-USER took place in
two locations within the six story Belgo building of downtown
Montréal. Ground Control was the amusement arcade 'Casino
Royale'. The Crash site was in the gallery 'Observatoire 4'.
Cast in the system of gravity's production, both sites are
players in the business of cultural altitudes. Thus accordingly
the arcade is at street level whilst the gallery resides on
the 4th Floor, a little closer to the heavens.
For this project KIT (1) linked
these ports of high and low 'interactive culture' by virtue
of their lost communication. A connection seeking (amongst
other things) to question academic discourses which vilify
video games and amusement arcades.
Discourses exemplified by Virilio's
(2) recent alarmist text in which he sites videogames as being
at the forefront of a western attempt to implement a computer
narco-economy to defy the Latin based narco-capitalism of
illicit substances. In the 1990's, videogame interactive behavior
has been damned in an analogous fashion to the 50's hostility
towards teenagers 'uncontrolled, uncivilized' reactions to
rock n roll. Within the current electronic arts arena such
attitudes take similar positions in their distaste for the
unthinking, adrenaline rush of reactions [when you're good]
associated with game playing.
It was however within the distance
created by both audiences' remote relationships to the other
space that F-USER intended to operate; entering the
space of dislocation which results from perceiving at a distance.
A dislocation which Mckenzie Wark (3) sites as being a critical
and integral point within communication vectors created by
two or more locations relaying information.
Using these two spaces to initiate
a dialogue, meant the discourses of the work were framed by
the contradictory value systems of each location (one a space
of ethereal reflection, the other of real time reaction).
These systems which were re-formatted to produce questions
about how art represents entertainment; what happens between
the distance of transmission and reception of the disastrous
event; how video games affect the digital death cycle, etc.
Coordinating these culturally defined spaces in composition,
one as a ground control, the other as a crash site set up
a dynamic of unarticulated association. The lost reception
of the crashed mobile was a metaphor for the static transmissions
between high and low cultural activity.
Thus the fusion of these mutually
exclusive codes of conduct produced a silence in the ongoing
rhetoric of electronic connection. For it is within the screen
that communication systems are marketed as religious figures;
spreading the word over and under the land, it is a rhetoric
which preaches the ascendance of the connected. The recognition
of which makes F-USER's use of the reverential silence
of the gallery as crash site a salient point as the crashes
within developed communication systems increasingly become
about the fear of these sites of silence. For as the Critical
Art Ensemble (4) notes, "the most colstly disaster that
can happen in this economy is a communication gap". As
an audience we are informed by distance or rather the abstraction
of it -- of the fractured developments. Becoming an implicit
part in the drama played out amongst the wreckage, as we become
statistics in the ratings poles and witnesses to the demise
of function as the sole transient narrative.
Searching for the crash site
which gave birth to the transient soul, it was in the arcade,
amongst the aural discord of digital death, that players were
allowed to examine the wreckage. There the players participated
in a reconstruction of the event, searching for the fusion
of flesh and its extensions, it became proposition of the
cyborg as celebrational victim.
To begin this search was to
embrace arcade interaction and manipulate a joystick controlled
director program which, installed in a whited out stand up
video game housing, appeared both suited and anomalous to
it's surroundings. Reflecting the architecture which both
gallery and arcade exist, the game's digital structure used
blueprints of the building to move between six levels of mediated
aircraft crashes. To travel through the program was to fly
through the monitored static of lost reception, each screen
representing a room of the building. Within each level a single
crash was surrounded by it's mediated wreckage, reports, investigations,
conspiracy theories, memories, plus pictures of aircraft and
body parts found beyond the impact point. For this journey
you were a dead player traversing walls, ceilings and floors
as a ghost(space)ship looking for the site where collision
with the face of the earth ejected the soul into the realm
of the interface.
When the visitor located the
crash site, a F-USER sign flashed as s/he (the spacecraft)
flew into a video-game landscape and the gallery location.
In playing with notions of representative space, KIT sought
to re-define ideas of what it is to represent an existent
phenomena, or what it is to be virtual when interaction is
determined by a physical structure; thus how do we travel
through disembodied terrains when our bodies inhabit the structure
those terrains represent? Playing as a ghost (ship) posited
the player as a reflection of existence between terrains,
worlds and walls in an attempt to locate points of contact.
The intended place of contact here was the gallery, hence
the incarnation of the videogame crash. Breaching the unmarked
boundaries of the gallery space, a sit-in videogame shell
laid embedded in the wall upon which distant lands were projection.
Within the blue faux metal housing, a monitor played frame
by frame the last seconds of a TV news program being shut
off. Intermittent with static, it became the monitor of lost
contact. A closing in of the mediated image from afar, it
simulated the crash of a simulator as the 'on the spot' representation
of a report.
Thus the crash site became the
point at which perception at a distance (telesthesia) becomes
not only the collapsed distance of located news reports but
also the place where technologies transfer narrative bodies.
Here, progress's journey is
defined by the last gasp of the F-USER traveler as
s/he hands over the mic to the on-the-scene crew, allowing
the disaster relay to carry on until it passes the tape across
the fiber optic line.
1. KIT is an amorphous
international collective of bodies which has exhibited, performed
and intervened in cities in Britain, Germany, Holland and
Canada. Seeking anonymity they look to negate the specificity
of the named individual and choose to relegate their identity
to the footnotes of the work.
2. Paul Virilio, "Speed and information: Cyberspace Alarmi",
appeared in Le Monde Diplomatique, 1995.
3. McKenzie, Wark, Virtual Geography, Indiana University Press,
4. Critical Art Ensemble - Mythos information: Welcome to
the Wired World The Mythology of Terrorism on the Net. Talk
given at Ars Electronica, 1995.