The World is Down

10 Works by Eddo Stern

 

June 14 - July 27 2012

At the heart of Stern’s practice is a crucial engagement with today’s digital culture and an astute eye for formal experimentation. His large-scale installations, sculptures, interactive works and performance pieces often explore the uneasy connections between physical existence and electronic simulation, with a special focus on the ways in which violence and fantasy operate within culture at large. Yet it is his in-depth investigation into on-line video gaming culture and its denizens that has brought him the most attention, and he is renowned worldwide for his unique approach to experimental game design, which borrows certain technologies from video gaming, yet pulls equally form art historical references and methodologies. His practice includes large-scale sculpture, installation work, performance, and a wide range of video works.

 

Born in Tel Aviv and based in LA, Stern is an Associate Professor at UCLA’s Design | Media Arts Department, and is the Director of the UCLA Game Lab. His work has shown at the Museo Reina Sofia, The Walker Art Center, The New Museum, The Hammer Museum, The Tate Gallery Liverpool, The Haifa Museum of Art, and many other institutions.

 

The World is Down will feature three recently completed projects including the interactive game, Goldstation (2012), a new sculptural version of Portal, Wormhole, Flythrough : Fake Portal (2012), and the 3D sensory deprivation game, Darkgame (v3.0) (2011). The latter in particular signals a new direction for the artist, which expands on his previous interest in the combative, psychological nature of video game history, and take his practice into the realm of neuroscience and philosophy. (see back page for previous remarks on Stern’s work)

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Works in the Exhibition

 

(entryway)

 

 Emoticon, 2007

variable aspect ratio single channel, TRT 3.3 

“No one knows what its like Behind Blue eyes”

 

MELF, 2009

Acrylic hand-painted sculpture, servos, motors, customized software, light fixture and pedestal.

 

Tsunami (Baghdad Love Shack), 2007

acrylic hand-painted sculpture,

servos, motors, customized software, light fixture and pedestal

“US troops have discovered what they are calling Saddam Hussein's "love shack" in Baghdad. Reports say the secret hideaway resembles "a playboy's fantasy straight from the 1960s". Associated Press reporters with US forces said on the walls were air-brushed paintings of a topless blonde woman and another of a moustached hero battling a crocodile.”

 

Man, Woman, Dragon (World of Warcraft reduction), 2007,

Kinetic shadow puppet, Acrylic hand-painted sculpture, servos, motors, customized software, light fixture and pedestal.

The online fantasy game World of Warcraft is reduced to its core elements: the cult of Chuck Norris, female elves, and a slain dragon. (main room)

 

 Darkgame 3.0, 2012

Interactive 3D rendered video game, customized controllers, headset, original software, HD projector 1920x1080, 16:9.

Darkgame 3.0 is a sensory deprivation computer game currently in development. The game plays on physical manipulation of the player’s senses as the central focus of game strategy. The immersive gameplay is based upon the experience of communication and conflict under stress of sensory deprivation and sense isolation. During the game the player is equipped with custom made head gear, applying different sensations to the head that allow for non visual and auditory navigation the virtual world and interaction with other players over the internet. Darkgame is designed to include both vision and hearing impaired players, and is currently being play tested at the Los Angeles Braille Institute.

 

Darkgame Sensor Prototypes 2008 - 2012

A collection of Darkgame haptic sensor prototypes designed for feeling the 3D game environment.

 

Fake Portal, 2012,

Wooden case housing customized computer screens and television parts, computer animation.

A collage of found 3D animations of tunnels, wormholes, voids, and flythroughs - the iconic abstractions of science fiction and computer culture’s spatial aesthetics, a clichéd metaphor for timeless and endless transcendence.

 

(middle area, right)

 

One with the Lotus (with Steven Seagal), 2007,

Acrylic hand-painted sculpture, servos, motors, customized software, light fixture and pedestal.

Master Steven Seagal becomes one with the Lotus (middle area, left)

 

Goldstation, 2012,

Interactive video game, HD projection 1920x1080,

16:9, pedestal and headphones.

Goldstation’s keywords: bluework, whitework, Goldenwork; sweat & gold, dust & space; pickaxe, cauldron, bellows & ingots; survival of the fittest & progress to the right.

 

(small backroom, far left)

 

Vietnam Romance, 2003.

4x3 aspect ratio 640x480 - 19:09

TRT. Installation with environmental cues

A “Machinima“ film compiled from the sources available exclusively on the computer desktop environment. A remix of the Vietnam War experience with a MIDI soundtrack and computer game clips, Vietnam Romance is a tour of nostalgia for romantics and deathmatch veterans. ...Feel the Nam, the elephant grass, the red clay, the Cong, the rain, Feel the Nam

 

(large backroom to the far right)

 

Best Flamewar Ever (Squire Rexz vs. The King of Bards), 2007,

16x9, Blu-Ray (1280x720), 14.37 TRTA 3D computer animation diptych

Recreating an online flame war about degrees of expertise around the computer fantasy game Everquest. The specific points of contention may appear recondite at first glance, but gradually the unfolding narrative acquires an unexpected pathos and reveals a glimpse into the shifting codes of masculinity.

 

Previous remarks on Stern’s work:

 

Artforum: [Sterns work must be read in relation to America’s relationship to spectacle in the wake of 911.] “The artist’s intoxicating use of gaming, and in turn, the drug-like warmth with which these corrosive image (of video game war) meet the eye is deft” … “[There’s a] conviction that events unfold according to a grand plan, with all the world a kind of code in which we are merely players.” ~Tim Griffin

 

Catalog text: “Within the dialogue of contemporary art, a predictable outcome of appropriating and referencing these gaming sources could easily be one of uninformed analysis or pop‐culture banality. Stern’s work, however, comes out of an in‐depth involvement in the culture, and his approach is one of documentary, anthropology and historical analysis… [Moreover] gaming is not the absolute focus of his inquiry; he uses these references to investigate broader social and political themes, blurring the distinctions between the virtual and the actual.” ~ Pablo de Campo

 

Moving Image Source: “The experiences [found in Stern’s work] are never purely disconnected flights of imagination, nor simply crude mirrors of reality, but rather something more inextricably complicated and strange… For Stern, himself a former member of the Israeli army, the question of the relationship of real life to game life has greater political potential than it may at first seem. Stern asks how much gaming, online pastimes, and other forms of digital entertainment, as means of release from the problems of reality, are merely a more complicated extensions of the same” ~ Ed Halter

 

Artforum: “Stern’s work demonstrates how war—one of arts most ancient subjects—is becoming so saturated with virtual technology that, for everyone but the victims and infantry grunts—its easy to forget that it’s more than a purely aesthetic event.” ~Martha Schwendener Artreview: “Stern’s art goes beyond collectable objects and documents a certain lifestyle that can only get more prevalent as technology develops.” ~Chris Bors

 

Catalog text: “Though Stern’s work is squarely situated in the world of gaming, the points of inquiry expand in many directions… Through exposure to this seedy underbelly of the virtual, we learn more about the seedy underbelly outside of the game world: our understanding of history, the complexities of social dynamics, infatuation with heroes, and complicated relationships with violence and war.” ~ Pablo de Campo

 

Artforum: “Since Stern highlights the connection between fantasy (whether in the guise of mythology, sci-fi or internet subcultures) and humanities violent impulses, it’s tempting to read political commentary into his sinisterly seductive art. ~Zehra Jumabhoy