No pain No game has been referred to as “the most painful exhibition in the world”. As a matter of fact, it is up to the viewer to decide how much pain they want to experience. In the era of the rapid development of game studies when researchers have been more and more preoccupied with the influence of games on gamers’ condition, the //////////fur//// duo goes one step further. We are no longer surprised that some people find it more important to reach the next level in a game than to sleep and eat.
Now, we can see whether the desire to compete with others and break one’s record is stronger than the pain of being burned; for burning is precisely what PainStation–an installation visitors encounter first–does to punish gamers. Each participant has to put their hand on a sensor referred to as Pain Execution Unit. In the course of the game, modeled on the classic Pong, each mistake results in the gamers’ hands being electrocuted, burned, and whipped. You lose the moment you let go of the sensor. Not only does the installation cause pain, but it also makes one feel stressed by putting them in a seemingly real danger. In order to win, you need to hurt yourself.
In my case, the life instinct came out on top. Having successfully dealt with the heat wave I lost to electricity and resigned after several attempts. Back at home, I went to the //////////fur//// website and watched a photo coverage of a fight between much sturdier contestants. Bruises and blood on their hands convinced me that having a less competitive spirit may, in fact, have its bright sides.
All the other installations do not inflict pain directly, but they attack gamers with heavy sounds, test their physical condition and even vocal talents. Morawe and Reiff enjoy referencing childhood memories. Let’s take SnakePit as an example. It is a variation on the snake video game which, brought from old mobile phones straight to the real space of the gallery, requires gamers to run around the board and jump on buttons that steer the snakes’ moves. Heavy exhaustion may be the most serious side effect here. Nevertheless, it’s worth it if you want to experience truly heartfelt emotions.
Amazing–a labyrinth with balls steered by the human voice–turned out to be my number one favorite. Its board tilts depending on the pitch of the sound generated by gamers. Minute after minute, the more worn out the voice, the stronger the feeling of irritation (even more so, considering all the gawkers gathered around). In the end, however, all of it makes the eventual success taste even sweeter. Another musical sensation is MoshPit, a part of the exhibition dedicated mostly to aspiring rock stars, who can change the sound volume by shaking their head in front of an amplifier. The installation goes with a gamer’s manual which contains a note on the possible injuries caused by excessive head shaking. Do gamers feel detracted? We wouldn’t say so–after all, no pain no game.
The interaction between a human being and a machine works as a pretext for the //////////fur//// artists to critically reflect upon the topic of mechanisms that steer the contemporary reality. This is the case with ////furer//// - a universal reciter of speeches once delivered by political leaders, dictators, and reformers. A funny-looking wooden puppet, the look of which is supposed to distance us from political manipulation, replicates speeches by George W. Bush and Donald Trump among others. The critical function of an object is also employed by Golden Calf–a stock market simulator. What is worked on here is human greed. Gamers can buy and sell shares, the value of which fluctuates depending on pieces of information displayed at the bottom of the screen. These can relate to exacerbating world conflicts, fashion world news, and child labor to name a few.
The most “minimalistic” installation is OIS (One-way Interaction Sculpture)–a lamp that can be lit only in a virtual world. In order to do that, you need to scan the QR code. If you want to turn it off, you need to flick the switch you’ll find in the gallery.
The No pain No game exhibition in the Wro Art Center will be open to public until February 26th. Why not use this perfect occasion to visit the peculiar playground designed by the //////////fur//// duo of artistic sadists? For those who decide to take the exhibition title literally–get ready for neck pain, muscle sores, and bruises. At the end of the day, “no pain, no game”.
No pain no game
Wro Art Center
ul. Widok 7
phone +48 71 343 32 40
exhition time: 16.12.2016 – 26.02.2017
* during the Sunday Matinée part or the whole of our exposition may not be available – please follow information on our website
text: Asia Flisek
photos: courtesy of Centrum Sztuki Wro