Report from ARCO 2012 Madrid

Naked on Pluto entered the world of contemporary art last week as part of the VIDA/telefonica exhibit at the ARCO 2012 art fair in Madrid. This was the culmination of a lot of work making the game into an installation format, which represented the library as the centre of control and surveillance in Elastic Versailles. The installation consists of books printed from information stored in the game archives over the previous year, slogans and glowing LED books on the walls. We also had terminals running the game with the projection of the live game world in a circle in the middle of the space.

For this installation we wanted to create a highly formalised room, all right angles, straight lines and consistent colours of blue, dark grey and white. VIDA’s crew of architects and builders put in a lot of effort for us to achieve this, and were also very helpful tweaking it according to our strange requests.

During the opening event and later on, it was interesting to see different types of visitor. The older, perhaps more contemporary art focused groups had an extremely short attention span and so were not really engaging with the work much. The younger visitors however were tending to stay longer, even logging in to Facebook in order to try the game (and alarmingly, sometimes leaving themselves logged in). I think the initial hook for this engagement were the slogans on the edges of the bookshelves – for future installations we need to consider different strategies for setting the scene, as it will need to change with different locations and contexts.

One of the great things about these events is meeting the other artists (and VIDA award winners) who were setting up and exhibiting their work – Paul Vanouse with Ocular Revision, Sebastian Muellauer and Toni Nottebohm with Protei and Verena Friedrich with Transducers. These projects are an interesting combination, with more finished and specifically designed for installation work (Ocular Revision, Transducers) mixing with the more in progress, or conceptual things like Naked on Pluto as software art, or Protei, which is a large collaborative project still very much in active development.

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