Since childhood, I have been enveloped by the space and experiences of video games, and as such, they have influenced my personal ideology, identity, and artistic practice. A ludic nostalgia fuels the content and structure of my work and informs my stylistic tendencies.
To me, gaming serves as an outlet for romantic escapism. One retreats into a fantasy, urged to do so by the constant alienation and utter incomprehensibility of the world and it’s constraints. My work emerges from and comments on escapism, in effect a homesickness for the past, and also how those experiences can be tainted when the nostalgia transforms into feelings of shame and regret. These feelings originate from the reflections that game technology and its industry are closely related to powers of the military, big data, and the oppression wrought by capitalist ideologies. This dark side lies just beneath the surface of many games of my past, which my current work explores. Imbedded pervasively in these games are validations of violence, agon, commodification, and exploitation affecting the players enthralled by the most important media of the twenty-first century. My chosen vice, Pokémon, has been riddled with animal cruelty, competition and collection for their own sakes, disguised underneath kid-friendly wallpaper for over twenty years. My current work deconstructs this seminal game through a reimagining of its mechanics by means of an alternative set of self-imposed rules, as well as paintings referencing the specific ruptures of capitalist ideology within the games. These acts are meant to make personal amends with a game that has shaped my identity, while illuminating alternative modes of ethical and compassionate play within oppressive systems.
While the core of my work is rooted in traditional landscape painting, it attempts to bridge the gap between the descriptive, pictorial illustration of a space and the visual architecture of game worlds. The canvas serves as a two dimensional analog for the screen. One moves through a work as their avatar would explore a virtual space, occasionally interrupted by glitched artifacts or allegorical entities conglomerated from landscape elements and pixels. The topography of painting transforms into gamespace, just as many people are conditioned to navigate their lives through gamified constructs. These explorations have led to exercises in the sublimation of trauma and anxiety into monstrous landscapes of the inner self. As my mind has been conditioned to see life through a lens of game signification, it seems natural to me to give form to the monsters within my psyche using the visual impressions and conventions of gameworld foes. The confrontation that occurs in both the process of creation and viewing the complete work is cathartic, providing relief and another avenue for lessening the cruelties of the world.
The act of creation allows me to reflect on and reconcile my relationship with game worlds, my real existence, and the influence each has on the other. My work engages and laments the ways games color our reality, in hopes we can reclaim thought and play from their inherent spectacle.