Originally placed on display at the Pace Gallery at 41 Park Row in NYC from Dec 12-Jan 28. Studio statement below:
As a kid, I always grew up with technology in my life. I remember vividly the first time I ever used a computer and the wonder that gave me, and continued to give me for years to come. As I was always told to pick a career based around my own personal interests, I naturally went into computer science. Because of my deep rooted passions in the topic, a lot of my hobbies are in the same realm as well. A big part of the wonder I felt as a kid originated from playing computer games and video games- years later, I spend a lot of my time developing games in my spare time. I took this class as an opportunity to experiment and explore the concept behind games, and ways of integrating technology found in our everyday lives into creating contemporary art. Video games are often designed as profitable products, made to draw in sales and create an experience that can be replayed over and over and enjoyed by a large group of people. On the flip side, what makes a real life experience special is that it only happens once, and sharing these experiences with one another is one of the things that makes this life so special and interesting. I wanted to create a game that felt personal and unique both to me and all those that interact with it. While pondering on this idea, the theme of dreams stuck out in my mind for these same reasons.
Taking inspiration from game artists such as Osamu Sato and Mason Lindroth and other artists such as Joan Miró and Max Ernst, I incorporated surrealist imagery with game design elements to create a dream like experience that can be interacted with by the user. Dreams stem from our subconscious mind, the origin of our deepest fears, driving forces, reactions, and emotions towards everything around us. Being so close to the root of all of these, they also become some of our most deeply personal artifacts as humans, sometimes too deeply rooted to share. I decided with this project to try and invoke the user to share their experience, in order to participate in the experience I created. The user is first prompted to send a message containing a dream of theirs to an automated phone number displayed on the screen; once sent, the system will send the password to be entered on the keyboard to gain access. These messages are recorded, and anonymously posted on a twitter account created for the project, @drmmchn. By doing so, the user is not only participating in viewing the piece, but also contributing to it and its longevity.
The game has six different “dream states”. Once the user enters the password, a random level is picked from the six, and they are able to interact with it and explore it. Some are small games, which end once the user loses; others are surrealist environments for the user to explore for a small amount of time before they “wake up” and the game ends. This is all set in place to simulate the random, often bizarre nature of dreams. Typical games usually follow a linear pattern, with laid out instructions and a specific method to follow. In this case, the timing of the user’s placement is random, and there is really no defined end-goal or point of reference what to do- it is up to the user to explore and try to figure it out for themselves before time runs out. Once they wake up, they are brought back to the original screen.
My goal was to take personal aspects from my dreams, and incorporate them into a format that has brought so much joy to my life in the past. I hope that the unique nature of the levels and surrealist art style invokes a similar sense of wonder that I felt when I was first exposed to this technology in my young age. Additionally, I hope that users are excited to share their own experiences with others, and I hope the veil of anonymity is enough to feel comfortable in doing so. Sharing experiences with others can be a weight off one’s shoulders, but sometimes real life doesn’t allow us to do so without feeling judged or critiqued. Reading through other people’s experiences on the account can be equally as therapeutic, turning dreams from an isolated single person experience into a communal project.
Sounds under creative commons from freesound.org
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