Performance art is often thought to center around the artist’s body—improvising within parameters or working through a set of directions. What happens when the physical is eliminated or intentionally ignored in favor of a virtual experience. Does the physicality of a performance translate? Does it need to?
Video games manage to straddle the line between the physical and the virtual—set the stage for a dual performance of the player’s subtle physical dance of fingers across a controller and the pixelated movements of digital bodies.
Following similar avenues as traditional performance art, video games set up a framework for acting and improvising. Players can work within these programmed parameters or some have elected to hack games and gaming platforms to set their own rules.
Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start1 highlighted the actions of artists, programmers and players who choreograph their own performances—including including the players. From classic console games, to artist-created worlds, these works invite viewers to see virtual and real worlds in a new light and hopefully with a little more performance.
Image at top: Dana Sperry First Person Shooter or New Rider of the Apocalypse, 2006
Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start, also known as the “Konami Code,” is a cheat code for some video games that allows players to immediately gain hundreds of lives or unlock “Easter eggs”—special surprises or hidden game modes. [Back]
Who would pull an 8-ton truck across the city of Cleveland? It turns out that hundreds of Clevelanders would.
Internationally renowned performance artist William Pope.L asked people across Cleveland to manually pull an eight-ton truck for over two days straight, as a durational community performance piece and a testament to the power of shared labor.
Over 1,400 images collected from Clevelanders about what work means to them were projected from the back of the truck as it is pulled over twenty-five miles through the city. Pull! defied the persistent geographic and demographic split between Cleveland’s east and west sides, traveling through a diversity of neighborhoods on both sides of town—from North Collinwood, Glenville, University Circle, Hough, AsiaTown and downtown; to West Park, Clark-Fulton and Ohio City. Residents were able to view images submitted by Clevelanders as the truck was pulled through their neighborhoods.
Pull! was a show of strength that could only happen if thousands of people literally pulled together in a massive act of shared commitment. It celebrated the labor that built Cleveland, a city with a rich
and challenging industrial history. It asked every Clevelander, whether they loved or hated their jobs or just couldn’t find one, what work meant to their city.
Pull! took place on June 7-9, 2013, as part of Present & Accounted: A Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Cleveland Performance Art Festival (1988–1999).
Community Forum on Work
Thursday, May 30, 6:30–8:30pm
Neighborhood Leadership Institute
(2nd floor of Broadway United Methodist Church Building)
With the Neighborhood Leadership Institute, Policy Matters Ohio and Neighborhood Connections
Friday, June 7, 9:00 p.m. – Sunday, June 9, 9:00 pm
From the Beachland Ballroom to Market Square Park
Pull! Launch Party
Friday, June 7, 7:00–9:00 pm
15711 Waterloo Road
Featuring the Revolution Brass Band
Pull! Joins Parade the Circle
Saturday, June 8, 12:00–3:00 pm
10820 East Boulevard
Pull! End Party
Sunday, June 9, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Market Square Park
West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue
Featuring Passport Project and the Neil Chastain Quartet
Pull! is made possible by generous support from the 2012 Joyce Awards, the George Gund Foundation, the John P. Murphy Foundation, Neighborhood Connections, Speedpro Imaging, Good Greens, the Distillata Company, Jakprints and FORM, and is produced in partnership with the 25th Anniversary of the Cleveland Performing Arts Festival, 2100 Lakeside, the Beachland Ballroom, Berea Moving & Storage, City Rising Farm, the Cleveland Memory Project, the Cleveland Print Room, Cleveland Public Library, the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, Famicos, Neighborhood Connections, the Neighborhood Leadership Institute, Northeast Shores, Ohio City Incorporated, Parade the Circle, Policy Matters Ohio, St. Paul Community Church, and Tenable Protective Services.
Imagine a freckled 14 year old girl at the mall who approaches a stranger and asks, “What is the weather like where you are?” The bewildered stranger cocks an eyebrow and replies, “It’s pretty cold and snowing.” The girl states, “It is 11 degrees Celsius here in Tehran.” Thoroughly confused, the stranger narrows his eyes and furrows his brow. The girl goes on to explain, “I am sitting in my home in Iran, listening to you through my computer and speaking to you through this girl in front of you. I am a 30 year-old man and a musician. What kinds of music do you like?”
The brainchild of artists Jon Rubin and Felipe Castelblanco, this scenario will play out a number of times at different locations in Cleveland as part of The Foreigner. The project employs simple mobile technology that allows Clevelanders to act as physical avatars for Iranian citizens, thus enabling the general public in the mall to meet and speak to someone living in Iran through the body of a local citizen.
The Foreigner presents an uncanny circumstance where the separation between self and other, local and foreign, is collapsed and confused, and the geopolitical distance between the United States and Iran is made personal and local.
Events with Avatars
Opening at SPACES
Friday, February 1, 6:00–9:00 pm Other events
Saturday, February 2, 10:00 am–1:00 pm
Saturday, February 9, 10:00 am–1:00 pm
Sunday, February 17, 10:00 am–1:00 pm
Saturday, March 9, 10:00 am–1:00 pm
Saturday, April 6, 10:00 am–1:00 pm