PUBLIC ART INSTALLATION
Pixel | Hyper-reality
Exhibition design in collaboration with
K11 Hong Kong and the Hong Kong E-Sport Association
The K11 mall Hong Kong invited HIR Studio to design a public installation showcasing a series of retro game consoles from the 70s to 00s, as part of a 2-month K11 Art Month campaign to promote e-sports and gaming arts in town.
The installation composed of a pixelated meandering screen, representing the evolution of home video games in the past 50 years, from a '' pixel world'' into an immersive virtual reality.
From pixel to hyper-reality
The first video game console appeared in the 70's, with black & white graphics and big flat pixels. Since then game consoles have been evolving with better CPUs, digital storage, internet connections, and most notably, graphics which tends to emulate the reality.
Resolution has been refined from jagged pixels to very smooth polygons, while colours enrich from a handful of choices to cinematic animations. The once 2-dimensional linear movement has become completely 3-dimensional, with more depth of field for moving around; And in many games there are first-person-perspectives (PoV) which allows players to dip into the virtual scenes. Controllers like guns, steering wheel, drumsticks, etc, enable players to experience the most realistic perceptions. With the introduction of Virtual Reality technology, players are even entirely bathed in the game, where virtual space becomes the only perception. Reality and virtual world, are basically indistinguishable. Yet in many games their unique sets of rules have even established a different reality, a hyper-reality, or alternative-reality.
Video games not only evolved in graphics, but it has also enchanted our perception of space in both the virtual and real world.
'' Game Up'' expresses this evolution by scattering a swarm of pixels along an 18- metre- long screen, which starts as a thin and flat wall, meanders into layers of undulating surfaces and subsequently, wraps around to form a room immersed with fine and full-of-depth coloured pixels. In the circular room a latest Virtual Reality game is set up for trials, where visitors put up the googles and reality dissipates.
"Evolution of console graphics represents an evolution of spatial perceptions, in virtual and real world."
The translucent ''pixels'' serve different purposes along the wall. Some are display boxes showcasing the classic consoles and games, that are exhibited along their evolution timeline since the 70s'. A number of consoles are plugged in for playing, hence some pixels fuse together to house the TVs and console controllers. The text pixels aid to narrate the exhibition comprehensively, while some pixel boxes are lit to highlight the precious console collections.
All pixels suspend in the air, by hanging the panels and boxes on a latticed metal structure. The structure is permeable visually, and two thoroughfares are open for people to walk across freely and look at the exhibits.
Pixels are made of acrylics in a gradation of 24 shades, changing from greys to reds, flat to three-dimensional, big to refined. Spotlights onto the installation cast some richly layered shadows, and through the translucent pixels the surrounding splits into fragments.
Visitors approach the structure and get connected to the consoles. Through the installation we are engulfed into the virtual game world. As games and consoles evolve towards reality, our perception of the real world get more and more distorted, just like the floor grids swirling across, warping most intensively at the Virtual Reality era. It is the time when the boundary between reality and virtuality blurs out, when artificial intelligence sneaks into our daily lives, when gaming grows into a professional e-sport, and when this classic leisure- activity, evolves into a real business.
"It is the time when the boundary between reality and virtuality blurs out"
Alongside the long screens some pixels ''fall off'' and become the stand-alone showcases for mobile consoles, eg, Gameboys, Gamegears, etc The retro-consoles float within the transparent pixel like the most precious exhibits displayed in a gallery.
The ''game up'' signage pixels stack above each another, and are outlined in reddish light-tubes, paying homage to the old game arcades in Hong Kong, where neon light tubes are popularly used on signages and texts hanging in the street.
Signage boxes are outlined with light tubes in homage to the old Hong Kong game arcades.
By exhibiting the history of video games as in a pop-up gallery, visitors will recall their joyous memories when playing them years ago, and share them with the younger kids. Classic games such as street fighter, super Mario, etc, can even be played at the exhibition. It pays homage to the retro games developers as well as the amazing digital gaming evolution. Many games are so popular that lots of people tend to spend more time in the virtual world than that in the ''reality''; theunderlying question isn't if it is good or bad, but how ''reality'' could be improved -- how the non-virtual world may catch-up just like the gaming-peers?
Visitors will understand more about video games and how it has developed into online tournaments, subsequently electronic sports, which has further grown into a profession and businesses with huge potentials.
This petite exhibition, in that sense, opens up a gate for public to glimpse into a whole new trend in entertainments, sports, and global business.