Monday, April 05, 2004

Art, food, karaoke
And the distinction was not all that big. It was an even toss on which was better, the art or the karaoke, Saturday night in New York.

Paul Johnson, self-proclaimed console hacker and computer game artist, showed six pieces at the Postmasters Gallery. I guess Paul Johnson is a brilliant artist with a great future. A creator of game representations that catch my fancy he is however not. The attempt was honest. He had programmed the games to play each other, to develop into its own little worlds. In different art pieces he sets different games into the same universe, and use the platforms of one to influence the other. In principle, this seems cool, a hybrid gaming. If this had been online, and I could have logged in at different times to follow the development of the games as they played each other, the idea has some merit. If I could have added or removed parts and so influenced it, I would have loved the works, because that is what I and others wanted to do, feeling up the surface looking for some input device that would give us, the watchers, a different role. What the lack of agency leads to for the spectator in this case is an odd discomfort, like watching machines masturbate.

The most interesting part of the exhibition was a little video running in a loop at the reception area, with a brass band playing while girls wielding batons marched around in formations with sattelite dishes on their backs. That, at least, revealed a sense of humour and irony which I guess I was not sufficiently sophisticated to detect in the other works at the exhibition. Typically, I can't remember the artist of that little pice, nor can I find that whimsical little five-minute video mentioned online.

The food afterwards was outstanding though, at the Cuban Restaurant Cuba Libre, 165 Eighth Avenue, if you happen to be in the area. And since I am not much of a food photographer, I am giving you a picture of the most decorative feature of the evening, lovely Yoko. The food on her plate, which I know nobody will even notice in this picture, is chicken.

Next stop was a Karaoke bar, where we rented a private room and threw ourself into the interactive fiction of being great musical talents. It's like eating a meal with a lot of garlic, if you are with people who do that, you had better make sure you do too, or you'll suffer. In this case, the only way not to suffer from the pain of our artistic expressions was to be equally active and expressive yourself. In that manner, it has much in common with multi-user games - and probably also the exhibition where the evening had started. The doing was much better than the watching/listening.

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