A pivotal project for KIT, F-USER is
the second solo show and the first time - in what becomes
an ongoing interest – that an off-site location is used
in conjunction with a gallery to undertake a project within.
The ‘Belgo’ building in Montréal
houses approximately 18 galleries from the second floor to
the fifth. ‘Observatoire 4’ is on the fourth floor
and is where the gallery component of the project resides.
On the street level of the building is the ‘Casino Royale
Video Arcade’, the space that the interactive part of
F-USER inhabits. In 1996 there is an entrenched political
divide between the gallery’s take on interactive computer
installations involving videogame narratives and the video
arcade’s take on reactive electronic culture. In short,
neither of them want anything to do with the other.
In the Video Arcade, a plethora of electronic
screams, gunshots and soundtracks play constantly. All the
videogame housings have neon signs, large speakers and slots
for coins to be dropped into, all except one that is, which
is completely white and has no slots for coins. KIT use the
language of the modernist white cube – the art gallery
- to inform the exterior look of the videogame housing used
to hold the computer game created for F-USER. Upstairs,
the gallery has a large gaping wound in the wall where a ‘sit
in’ videogame housing looks to have crashed into it.
This time the videogame housing is covered in an ostentatious
material, a flashy blue vinyl extends the aesthetic of the
arcade into the gallery and so the switch of visual languages
The video arcade is the first space one walks
into as it is on the street level of the busiest road in Montréal.
The F-USER videogame is free to play and invites
all to take the joystick. The game created is based on the
blueprints (which took months of meetings to get) of the block
long, 5 storey ‘Belgo’ building. A narrative is
set up whereby a ‘module’ of the videogame has
escaped from the digital world of F-USER and made
the transition into becoming a physical object. The trouble
is that rather than escaping the confines of the architecture,
it has instead, crashed into one of the walls of the blueprints,
and thus into one of the ‘Belgo’s’ 150 spaces.
Each level of the videogame uses the blueprints
of a level from the building, thus the architecture of the
videogame is directly correlated to the architecture of the
building that houses the project. The player has to work their
way through each videogame level of the building to find where
the ‘module’ crashed. Back doors and escape units,
if found, offer quicker ways to reach new levels within the
Once the crash site is found, the interaction
in the arcade comes to an end and the player is advised to
travel to the gallery space to finalise the game’s journey.
Walking through the door of the gallery, it immediately becomes
obvious that the crash site has been located. The videogame
housing lodged halfway into the gallery wall has a ‘gaming’
landscape projected around it onto the wall. F-USER
appears to have attempted to escape the confines and structures
of both the physical and digital worlds, yet somehow gets
stuck between the two, stuck between a wall and a video arcade,
between the floors of high and low art.
F-USER exhibits at the
following gallery and site –
1996 Galerie Observatoire 4 (Montréal,
Royale Video Arcade (Montréal, Canada)