Upon moving in 1997 to a new location in
Chicoutimi, Canada, Galerie Séquence ask KIT to produce
a site-specific installation for their new space which used
to be a video arcade.
KIT’s response is to use the language
of the video gamer’s world to create a new work with.
Before the video arcade had been shut down, the favourite
game most often played was a fighting game called Tekken.
As a response to this, KIT take photographs of different world-wide
locations such as Greece, USA and China, places which players
fought in on a daily basis while playing the game. Once KIT
have the images ready, they clear the characters, scores,
weapons and indicators of a player’s presence from them,
leaving just the over saturated landscape. These images are
in turn printed onto canvas via a large-scale industrial digital
printer. Having let the canvas’ dry for a week, the
next job is to cut and sew them into punchbags.
10 punchbags are produced for the show at
Galerie Séquence. 7 are shown in the main gallery and
3 in the project room. Underneath each bag is an open wooden
box slanting up at an angle. Created to reference old style
tombstones, they are also the shape of video games that used
to inhabit the space before it became a gallery. Lined up,
the reference to a cemetery for video games is made obvious.
In the half tombstone half video game housing, lies a pile
of sand which has fallen out of the punch bags. Almost like
ashes within the open boxes, the sand having fallen out of
the bags means the punchbags are now hollow and ineffectual
as physical objects, offering no resistance to the would be
Re*Action Hero makes clear allusions
towards the reality of space and those who inhabit the said
location on a daily basis. In the late 90s a debate ensued
about how reflection was a more important attribute to contemporary
culture than reaction (with regards to video games and not
political positioning). However, J.C. Hertz had written a
book called Joystick Nation which refuted this notion,
saying that studies of children had shown that playing video
games where reaction times were a significant factor showed
more progress at school than those who did not play.
Since the artworld at this time supported
a strong divide of video game equalling low culture and interactive
artworks equalling high culture, this research was an interesting
side to the production of the work. Since western philosophy
has always referred to the act and art of reflection as the
conduit to truth and understanding, the act and art of reaction
is viewed as the deformed twin brother, hushed and better
kept beneath ground, outside of the real world.
Since the inception of the Internet and video
game landscapes claiming status as ‘active locations’
where everyday people live their everyday lives, any claims
to one landscape being more concrete than another strikes
one as hollow. In much the same way the punchbags offer a
‘virtual’ video game landscape in a gallery space,
only to find out that within the ‘concrete’ world
the ultimate symbol of physical interactivity is groundless
and emptied of its content.
Re*Action Hero exhibits
at the following galleries –
1998 Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Wakefield, England)
1997 Galerie Séquence (Chicoutimi, Canada)