Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Blips: Drop the Vase

Source: This Vase Is A Mirror
Author: Tim Schneider
Site: Kill Screen

If you've ever been bewildered by the art market's ever-inflating auction value headlines, consider Tim Schneider's debut piece for Kill Screen an excellent introduction to what the hell is happening there, helpfully framed in the context of video games no less. I won't go into the whole backstory since Schneider does so in the article but there was an incident earlier this year where an artist (un?)ceremoniously broke an Ai Weiwei painted Han dynasty pot while it was on display in a gallery. Everyone in the press seemed eager to note the proposed value of the pot in their assessment of the situation –supposedly about $1 million. As a response, another artist, Grayson Earle, created Ai Weiwei Whoops!, a game which allows players to similarly drop facsimiles of said pots while racking up an obscenely escalating damage assessment in dollars. That's all there is to the game, and Schneider argues that's, in a sense, all there is to the current art market.

The experience of playing Ai Weiwei Whoops! is worth noting here, which Schneider goes into elaborate detail to explain. It's a game that you'll probably play for 30 seconds, maybe a minute tops; not something that is particularly thought provoking out of context. But in conversation with the smashing incident and the larger art market, the "throwaway" nature of the play experience means something all on its own. Ai Weiwei Whoops! isn't a particularly fun game; the pot crashing doesn't even grant a destructive satisfaction, just the matter-of-fact uptick of the perceived dollar amount lost to the void.

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