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 is completed.

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 game.

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, Canada)
           Casino Royale Video Arcade (Montréal, Canada)