Remember those halcyon days way back in 2010 when you could go wait in an incredibly long line at the MoMA to spend a few seconds sharing a stare with Marina Abramovic as she sat and stared for her extremely popular The Artist is Present piece? If you’re hankering to return, and watching the Broad Museum get built in real time isn’t drawn out enough for you, designer and artist Pippen Barr has created the brilliant and bizarre The Artist is Present video game. Control your animated, adventure game avatar through the process of paying $25 for a ticket and then go wait in a very long line to see Abramovic. That’s it. And like the often-referenced non-game game, Penn and Teller‘s equally interesting Desert Bus, where you drove a bus through an unchanging landscape for hours but the steering had a slight pull, meaning you had to sit there and pay attention for all those hours, in Barr’s game, if you ignore your place in line, you’ll get bumped and have to start again from the back of the queue. Beside the game, Barr has a number of interesting comments about his creating the game, adding whole other layers to what first appears to just be a funny endeavor. Here’s a bit:
As happens when you make things, though, different meanings and ideas come up as you go along. On researching the show it was pretty obvious that the core mechanic of the game was about waiting – that’s pretty much what everyone focuses on when they think of the show – either waiting to see Abramovic or, in a sense, waiting with her. And that’s immediately titillating because waiting is obviously the height of poor game design according to convention. (Note that there are some great games about waiting, notably Gregory Weir’s Narthex and Increpare’s Queue). Part of my attitude to it, though, was to take it to some kind of “end game” – just waiting, so real other entertainment or chance of interaction, possibly for hours, possibly never even achieving your aim. Brutal waiting.
Sadly, there’s no bonus level in Barr’s game where if you touch the nude people, you get in trouble with the MoMA staff.