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Untitled Document
Untitled Document

Museum Meltdown FAQ (1999)

Q: Can you describe the process of making the game?
A: Many of the 3D games today are shipped with a level editor, where you easily can design your own game environments. The editor that we used is called WorldCraft and is similar to a CAD program for architects. The architecture of the museum was represented from drawings. Artworks, walls, floors and other significant details were documented and from that we made our own textures for the game. We decided to keep the original framework and logic of the game, for example the Artificial Intelligence of the monsters, even though it is possible to change all parameters of the game.

Q: What programs did you use when making the museum? 
A: WorldCraft, the level editor for Half-Life, and Photoshop to make the textures to the level. 


Q: You have done several other computer game museums, can you tell us more about them? 
A: The first museum what we represented was the Arken Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, 1996. We were invited to a big Nordic exhibition, The Scream, where we were asked to show our Web project Join Hands but we didn´t find any sense in showing an Internet piece in a museum. Since the museum was recently built and had a somewhat superficial architecture. We thought it interesting to do something that dealt with the whole idea of the exhibition space. The interior had a lot of fake details, like big metal panels and doors. This fake hi-tech style corresponded a lot to the computer game aesthetics. When we found the game Duke Nukem3D which had a level editor, we decided to transform the actual space into a game environment. Later in spring 1997 we were invited to the show Funny Vs Bizarre at The Contemporary Art Center of Vilnius, where we did a similar work based on the 1968 Soviet architecture of the art center with its significant floor mosaic textures. 


Q: What´s your relation to the architecture of the museums that you have worked with?
A: After spending more time in the virtual museum than the real one, we know every square meter of the space as a game environment. When we visit the real museum it becomes surreal, as if it was a replica of the game. The appearance of the real museum makes us sick with all its complex details.


Q: Wouldn´t it be a good idea to make the monsters look like curators and critics?
A: It´s important for us to keep a simplicity in the concept: the Museum versus The Game. And since you mentioned this we guess you already have this metaphor in mind when you are playing or looking at the piece as it is. This we guess that you already have this metaphor in mind when you are playing or looking at the piece as it is.


Q: The computer game contains a lot of explicit violence, how do you relate to this?
A: Looking at art is always connected with anger and frustration, the idea of destroying can be very pleasurable. The moral aspect of the game can not be isolated from the violent reality we are living in. The development of computer game technology is moving towards more realism, interaction and complexity. Hereby they will of course affect us more.


Q: In 1995 you made Join Hands, one of the first art projects on the Internet in Sweden. Is it true that it was censored? 
A: Well, it was censored by the server administrators who thought that parts of the content could be read as child pornography. Join Hands, including the whole Art Node site who hosted our project, was shut down without notice. The administrators demanded that Join Hands was removed before Art Node could have their site running again. We simply moved the project to another server.


Q: Do you have any problems with copyright issues concerning the computer game and the art works?
A: Most copyright problems are connected to commercial activities - but as an artist, the use of existing imagery must be considered as a quotation with an artistic intention. In the context of the game the original pictures become a part of a bigger framework and can therefore not be looked upon as individual art pieces. The resolution quality is so low that you must look upon the pixelized images as a representation of the artwork itself. 


Q: Do you play computer game yourselves?
A: Of course, this is a part of the research process, and playing a good game can be really interesting and fun. 


Q: What is you relation to the game culture?
A: On the Web there is a lot of activities around the games; forums, editing tutorials, etc. Every game has its own support and fan-sites. When making the game we had a lot of help from gamers on the Web. The game culture is very seductive, entering a noisy arcade hall gives great inspiration. Playing shooter games over Internet is great fun but we got addicted, so we had to stop playing.


Q: Is it possible to get a copy of the museum game? 
A: No.


Q: How did the museum staff react on your project?
A: In the beginning we planned to have the game on Internet, but the security chief refused to give us the drawings of the museum. He was afraid that someone might use the game to plan a raid against the museum. This was an interesting aspect, since we knew about US Marine Corps and the Secret Service using network games for training purposes. They used the computer game Doom in which they represented an embassy to simulate a possible rescue scenario. Apart from this, the museum has responded with allot of interested in the project. For example when when we demonstrated the piece to one of the staff who found great joy watching the Gerhard Richter painting getting smashed into pieces. 


Q: Technology plays a large part in your work, what is your view on the relation between art and technology?
A: Turning a computer game in to an art work points out technology and gives a good starting point to understand the complexity and fast development of technology. Technological changes that we are surrounded by are hard to fully grasp. When we are lost we are also morally disarmed. A concrete example like an art work can be an important exponent to regain reality. When technology now are changing both our means of perception and reality this kind of examples are going to become important for us to get a perspective. Let us give you an example of such a perspective: The war industry has always pushed the technology forward and since the exploding market for personal computers and Internet, the market has been flooded with such technology. The violent shoot´em-up games use the simulation technique invented by the war industry.


Q: Would you describe the Art world or the Institution as a game?
A: The range of human interactions in the our game is very limited, the rewriteable program code of the game contains the basic lab for understanding the Art world through game theory. A living game simulation of the Art world could be made to understand it´s internal relations and laws like institutional settings and interactive strategies of humans. In this perspective the Art world or the Institution could be look upon as a number of reprogramable entities in interaction.

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