Since Everyone Else Decided to Post Today…

February 27, 2008

While the artist’s life may have driven everyone’s favorite eyebiter to go without HBO (a catastrophe if ever there was a catastrophe), the sometimes solitary life of a scholar-in-training has forced your 5th favorite correspondent/epistlist to spend long hours reading texts in languages he barely understands and shorter hours reading languages he doesn’t understand at all. Somewhere along the way he’s supposed to find time to think of research topics and research those topics. It is, sadly, no longer acceptable to write the paper synthesizing a couple of articles, or the paper explaining how one randomly selected type of literary criticism effects this less-randomly selected author (that these occasionally find their way to the salad should come as no surprise). But the worst part of graduate school is that I have increasingly less time to spend on things just for myself, and too often that means Salad posts have fallen by the wayside. Though my frequency might be faltering there are as of yet no plans to (again) abandon the site. Although, I must admit that it would be great to hear something from the readers. Let yourselves be known.

Otherwise, today’s topic is one of the stranger examples of an art/film. Recently we talked about Cory Arcangel’s nintendo experiments. The project that first drew me to Arcangel was his Whitney biennial piece, a Mario 3 cartridge hacked to only show the clouds while really awesome techno bump-bump-thumped around the room. One of the things that very much makes this piece “art” is its singularity. Arcangel hand hacked the Mario 3 cartridge to make it into something very much his own, and something new. Once more, we were the only ones capable of seeing it, and watched it within its own installation, its own exhibition space.

One of his follow-up projects was a Mario “short film.” Its initial conception was similar; it had a unique installation at a museum/gallery setting, and was a hand hacked cartridge. But in its afterlife, it’s found it’s way to youtube. I’m going to post part 1 within the post, and anyone who’s interested should go to youtube for the other parts.

The primary question is how has our viewing experience changed as a result of watching the movie on youtube rather than in a museum. There are a few obvious answers. 1) the piece is somehow less art-like. It no longer has the curatorial stamp, nor does it have the singularity or limitedness of art. 2) the craft element has disappeared. We’re no-longer impressed with the technical aspect of the movie, the ways in which Arcangel was able to graft new vessels into old wine. Instead, it resembles a computer program, something far more people are skilled to do. And 3) as a result, it becomes more of a movie. Though our main character is an 8-bit Mario, we expect more film-like things to happen. More movement, more progression. Arcangel presents an existentialist Mario, fine, but doesn’t necessarily explore that through any film-like interactions. Oddly, it seems to suffer because it carries itself with the pose of fine art, rather than the mixed popular-high art genre that is film.

It’s an interesting project nonetheless, and I’m interested in the opinions of others. Hopefully, notwithabang will give his thoughts from the gamer’s perspective.

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