Years and years ago, I wrote the scenario for an early computer game; it was a chic murder mystery set in a black and white world, populated with photographs by Man Ray, Alfred Stieglitz and Steichen. The heroine had bobbed hair and wore couture by Poiret and Chanel — even to bed. Oh, it was such fun spotting the clues planted throughout the game, in flickering street signs, inside a cubist cigarette case, and on rumpled beds in low life hotels… it won a bronze medal at a games convention in San Francisco.
I’m telling you all this because art has entered the mainstream gaming industry — big time. First, there came Tate World’s Minecraft: a complex, immersive experience that launched last year. Based on a series of maps, the game allowed users to explore trails of information — from the inspiration behind artists’ works, to their life stories. Clever.
If there is one art movement that provides perfect food for computer games, it is Surrealism — for what is a game, in the right hands, if not an oneiric, surrealist experience? And who is more associated with the movement than Salvador Dalí? An artist who, were he alive today, would surely be constructing a deoxyribonucleic computer game all of his own.
Following this logic, Brazilian Carlos Monteiro has produced SURREALISTa, a beautifully designed game inspired, not by Dalí, but by the otherworldly art of Giorgio de Chirico. Players navigate their way up and down stairs, and through secret gateways, the aim being to make one’s way from level one to five.
I kept bumping into sightless statues and turning corners to find blank walls. But it was all so beautiful — in a de Chirico, dread kind of way — that I honestly didn’t mind the rather complicated journey.
Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, Still from Un Chien Andalou, 1929
Years ago, I wrote a biography of Salvador Dalí and, amongst other things, watched every film he made or contributed to, starting with L’Age d’Or and moving sharply on to Un Chien Andalou. To this day, I cannot bear to see the close up shot of the razor slicing across the heroine’s eye. (I later found out it was in fact an ox head that Bunuel had bought from the local butcher, but the memory lingers on). It is still so very shocking, almost a hundred years after it was made.
Made by Thanks Games — and free on MAC and Windows, The Tender Cut offers a further take ( and a very clever one) on The Cut. The game is made by Russians Ilya Kononenko and Yuliya Kozhemyako, two designers who have produced a remarkable evocation of the original film, sinisterly busy ants and all.
And now for something completely different
John Akomfrah, The Turkey Shoot Galactico at Leisure Land Golf
Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf is a nine-hole mini-golf course, set to premier at this year’s Venice Biennale. Each hole has been designed by a specially commissioned artist, and all to direct our attention to the leisure principle — well done Doug!
Main image: Carlos Meonteiro, SURREALISTa, a still from the computer game
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