Psychical Therapy and Leisure
Exhibition curated by Manuel Saiz
26 January 26th- 7 March 7th (2001)
Artists / works
Pacman, Space Invaders, Asteroids... you have to play a couple of rounds to discover the rules of the game, to work out how the controls work and to learn how to get beyond the first few levels. The fact that the pieces in this exhibition are independent game devices, with their own procedures and challenges but in a common space, converts the gallery into a kind of entertainment centre. These arcade games are complex mechanisms for a quick round of recreation, that invite one to enjoy the relations between the pieces and to recreate them. By immersing oneself in them and relinquishing part of one's consciousness to them, one is removed from the space in which the game is played to the space in which the video game is taking place. If you want to find out what prizes are on offer, you need to give up time and control.
But the time that the spectator yields is not wasted; rather, it is an investment because the works are generous and, by implication, generate returns. It is a time for entertainment and training, time to exercise the mind in fuzzy logic. The works suggest activity, provoke action and serve as creative tools; the exhibition becomes an application software bundle. The works have a well-designed interface, they are user friendly; the public approaches them not as spectators but rather as users, graphic or fashion designers, architects, publicists, curators, artists. The works are made to be exploited because they belong to a medium in which there is no contemplation without benefit.
The information that these programs manipulate is written in the logical structures of the users' thought processes, in the complex of desires, expectations and convictions that make up their minds. As the reading of the works prompts questions that raise unexpected associations and interrupt brain functions with sudden short-cuts, the visit turns into a psychotherapy session. Relinquishing control to the works brings immediate relief. By sinking into their intimacy one allows the pieces to eliminate some tensions and create others.
In reality, this intimacy is only an illusion as the works are open to many spectators, just as a psychotherapist is open to many patients. In fact, the personal readings by different visitors may not vary all that much; although each artist proposes a new formula, their ingredients are easily recognised iconic forms that are the common denominators of various social groups. The works are immersed in everyday life, in mass media and popular culture; these are the referents on which the spectators/artists rely and relax.
One's reading of what is clear gives meaning to the areas of uncertainty. The best moments in one's engagement with each piece come when one imagines, by means of inductive projection, that point in the past which may or may not have been the moment of their creation.
The fact that the works share these common qualities and not others is what suggested the exhibition in the first place: a view of what is contemporary art in London and a synthesis, extrapolated from the relations between the works, of what makes this art belong to London. (Translation Marko Daniel).
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Acknowledgements: Lisson Gallery, Sakiko Nishihara, Lisa Rosendahl