Re*Action Hero



Re*Action Hero

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 puncher.

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)