I am pleased to announce that The cure for homeless... Details are inside ;-), a digital video based on my latest book, How to get rid of homeless (CONCRETE PRESS, 2015) will be screened on Sunday May 31, 2015 during No One is an Island, a show curated by David Borgonjon as part of the 2015 LEVEL UP Festival in New York.
No One is an Island features video works by Matteo Bittanti, Joanna Lin, James T. Hong, MAP Office, Angela Washko and Yu Cheng-Ta. In short, a great archipelago of artists. As Borgonjon explains, the event "brings together three NYC communities that don't overlap often: the Sinophone, game design, and contemporary art communities." The curator adds that:
No One Is an Island expands on the conceptual and formal ideas engaged in by works in LEVEL UP. The game environment, whether that’s the board or the screen, always functions by rules similar to but not quite the same as the larger world. A kind of separate world within a world, the video game is a virtual island, separated from the continent of the real world by different rules. After all, the first commercially produced platform for machinima (cinematic works created entirely in game environments) was also set on an island: the award-winning Stunt Island (1993) centered on recording and editing airplane tricks, which you could even select from a ready-made menu. Just like that seminal game, this screening turns players into viewers. Whether looking away to the horizon on the sea, or down on the problems of a city, each of the works on view has a distance from “the real world,” what’s out there, the rest of the universe. (David Borgonjon)
David Borgonjon is Curatorial Fellow at Wave Hill, a public garden and cultural center in the Bronx, NY. He recently co-founded Screen, a bilingual platform for media art commentary. In his independent curatorial and critical practice, he is currently at work on a series of professional development workshops based on learning board and video games as metaphors, which he will present at Rhode Island School of Design and continue to organize in New York.
On January 8, 2015 CONCRETE PRESS released my new book(s): How to get rid of homeless.
A 600-page epic split in two volumes documenting the so-called “homeless scandal” that affected the newly released game SimCity (Maxis/Electronic Arts, 2013), How to get rid of homeless reproduces dozens of threads concerning “homelessness” that appeared in Electronic Arts’ online forum between 2012 and 2013.
I have collected, selected, and transcribed thousands of messages exchanged by the forum members who first experienced, and then tried to “eradicate”, the phenomenon of homelessness that “plagued” SimCity. From surprise to despair, from shock to resignation, these posts highlight the pitfalls of simulation, the not-so-subtle effects of ideology on game design, and the interplay between play and society, politics and entertainment.
Decontextualized from their original source and reproduced on paper sans the majority of online communication hallmarks (e.g. author’s signatures, side banners, avatar pictures etc.), these textual exchanges create a peculiar narrative. Some of the dialogues’ absurdist tones evoke Ionesco’s plays. Others reveal racist and classist biases, and forcefully introduce - or, rather, reintroduce - a highly political vision that the alleged “neutral” algorithms were supposed to overcome.
So what is How to get rid of homeless, exactly?
It is an act of defamiliarization: the original content is reproduced in a different context. Thus, the forum has been deterritorialized. It is a gesture of reblogging/retweeting/reposting digital content in a physical space.
How to get rid of homeless confers materiality (and thus “weight”) to the ephemerality of online conversations, where editing is a fluid, ongoing activity and can be performed almost in “real-time”. Print adheres to different temporalities and protocols.
How to get rid of homeless is an act of reframing: it gives the original text new shape and meaning by virtue of a novel context. Reproduced on paper, these posts challenge some of the fundamental assumptions about the form and content of the book.
As an edited reproduction of an archive, How to get rid of homeless clearly communicates its self-referential character. As an archive of an archive, How to get rid of homeless is a collection of previously assembled data. The book format is assertive: it attributes value and relevance to content normally deemed trivial and irrelevant.
As How to get rid of homeless appropriates and re-presents a collection of presences (the authors’ statements), but also of absences (e.g. missing images that have disappeared from their respective online archives), the book can be read as a meditation on the writing process itself in the age of digital media.
How to get rid of homeless is available on Amazon in a limited edition of 99.
And a critical "text" that provides contextual information (also in ADD-friendly format).