An open invitation to the chisel fest

Fear and Gaming: Being and Nothingness and ‘Minecraft’, part of Jonathan Gourlay’s Fear and Gaming series at The Bygone Bureau (via MeFi). There’s also a forthcoming Minecraft documentary. From the article: ‘The popularity of the game makes perfect sense as I ride my pig in front of my cobblestone memory palace. The sun is setting, so I need to get inside before the creepers come. Fear is essential to action, after all. Life would be dull without creepers.’

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Minecraft seems to capture and embody the ennui and attraction of empty space better than any other computer game, be it a simulation or MMPORG. An open sandbox, it is visually pitched at a point at which imagination is still vital to fill in the gaps. And what gaps. From the Me-Fi comments: ‘It reminds me of a favorite book of mine, Thomas Glavinic’s Night Work, in which the protagonist awakens in a Vienna that is, inexplicably, completely devoid of life. After wandering aimlessly looking for someone else, he spends his time reconstructing his childhood home, moving old furniture into his old house and rummaging in the attic for old photographs of his missing loved ones…. Minecraft’s infinite geography conveys the same feeling — you’ve got the small familiar territory you’ve scouted out for yourself, maybe even a broad region you’ve colonized with friends. But no matter how far you penetrate into the frontier, no matter how many aqueducts and railroads and towering sculptures you construct, you’ll always find yourself at the edge of wilderness, all alone in this incomprehensibly vast space riddled with caverns and teeming with monsters. It’s like all the most terrifying ideas about deep space, brought back to earth.’

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There’s a contextual, if not aesthetic, crossover between this infinite geography and the contemporary post-Dusseldorf photography. The work of Jorn Vanhofen, to pick just one, is in thrall to empty space and abandoned systems. In his series ‘Disaster’, Vanhofen ‘travels the world to capture images of areas that are undergoing rapid change. They are always places where people believe wholeheartedly in permanent growth and limitless profit, for the consequences of this fatal attitude are the objects of his photographic work.’ The blank landscape, the ‘ruins of modernity’, are one of the defining digital aesthetics. Where Minecraft differs is in its ability to emboss meaning upon this emptiness, an open invitation to tens of thousands to chisel spatial meaning upon this canvas.

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Other things. Noise and Dust Through the Viewfinder (via Touching Harms the Art). There’s plenty of nostalgia for the random patterns of slow technological breakdown on flickr as these groups attest: The Rust Bucket, Rust Rules – Macro, patina / we poked around the Association for Recorded Sound Collections website for a bit but couldn’t find anything to listen to, nor any links to any of the aforementioned recorded sound collections. Surely a missed opportunity?

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3 Responses to An open invitation to the chisel fest

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  2. Kosmograd says:

    The work of Gregor Graf would seem to fit well with the Thomas Glavinic book. In his Hidden Towns project, he retouches photos of Linz to remove all traces of signs and human activity. The resultant photos resemble models of simulacra, but strangely compelling as spaces we would like to enter and explore.

    I wrote about it in Kosmograd here.

    Can you expand what you mean by ‘post-Dusseldorf photography’ BTW? Some kind of reaction to the work of Becher, Gursky etc?

    • things magazine says:

      We sort of imagine ‘post-Dusseldorf‘ to be the descendants of the Bechers et al, but also those photographers who were entirely born into the ‘blank aesthetic’ and use it as their primary frame, rather than trying to seek out the blankness from within Modernity. Thanks for the link.

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