Art History 2: Gallery Write Up 1

The first gallery exhibit opening that I went to this semester entitled “One 2 One” and was presented by the artist Joe McKasy. McKay’s gallery exhibition contained both interactive and non-interactive artwork, and he describes himself not just as an artist but as a game designer as well. With the One 2 One gallery, McKay wanted to create works that were artistic in nature, but also universal enough so that all of the viewers of his art could easily understand them while still making sure to incorporate a humorous element into each piece.

“Plus Plus”, one of the interactive works in the gallery, was a huge rolling wheel-cage with two tablets attached to the inside of it. You could roll the piece around the floor of the gallery and the tablets on the inside would display numbers that counted from 0 with each full rotation of it. Both tablets counted rotations in one direction each, so if you rolled it forward only the front would count and if you rolled it backwards only the back one would count. McKasy describes this interactive “sculpture” as a “digital tumbleweed.” He had to hack the tablets to make them work for this piece. McKay said that he really liked the feeling he got from hacking into the tablets and allowing them do something beyond their original purpose.

The real big interactive piece that everyone seemed to be the most drawn to and interested in seeing was a two player videogame that McKay called “4 Mice”. McKay made this game with the idea of having something that is both fun to play and to watch in mind. There are two mice for each player for the controllers and with them players would move the intersection points on the screen on to the opposing player’s shape. The goal was to earn points and beat the other player by touching dots of a certain color with your points while avoiding the dots of the other color. McKay really wanted to create a controller system that had never been seen or used but was also simple and innovative while still being easy to install in a gallery space. The idea of using 2 mice, one in each hand, as the controllers came to him because of how familiar it was to use but also how awkward it felt. McKay also wanted to design it to be a difficult game, one that would make you mad when played, Because he found that, for some reason, players were actually happier when they died and were more likely to continue playing for multiple rounds.

McKay really seemed to want to create a more active space for the consumers of his art. In this attempt he tries to make his art something that’s easy for almost every person to understand, accept, and interact with. He really made it a point to get the viewers involved with each piece in the gallery. And while most interactive installations do exactly that, I find that the fact that this was one of his driving factors behind the premise of this gallery really makes it all that more effective and special to the viewer. It also really spoke to me as an artist in that there are other artists out there who want to make their art a universal experience for people. Creating something that the average person can go, “hey I know this”, or “I understand what this means” really drives me forward with what I want to do with my own work.

 

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