The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Extrapolated games



Pippa Stalker/Tshabalala Telling Death (2006-)
Death plays a major theme in life, art and videogames. In Telling Death Pippa Stalker/Tshabalala has combined this elements into a new art project. It began in 2006 when she exhibited a series of photographs at The Parking Gallery in Johannesburg. The serie was entitled Simulation and consisted of approximately 1000 photographs of “people” she had killed in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Now Pippa has taking the next step with the project: “And now comes the next step – telling your own version of their death. I want YOU to get involved in making something interesting and public by telling your own stories – stories of how these “people” died… Be creative, be weird, be out there, as long as you’re original – anything goes.” (quote from Pippa’s blog). On her blog, you can choose a picture and contribute with your own story.


Ashley Blackman Marco Van Ginkel Study (2016)
Using a contemplative pace and minimal editing, Blackman’s work exemplifies the slow, ruminative machinima movement.


Nabil Mir C-Art (2015)
C-Art is a video game that uses art education to cultivate interest of contemporary art. It teaches art by experiencing it. The game consists of a virtual gallery with doors that lead to galleries
based on art movements of the 20th to early 21st centuries. The artworks featured in the game are virtual representations of the original works. The game was created in Unity 3D.


It mixes up the real “virtual” (the game) with the virtually “real” (money). In China there are over 2000 Online-Gaming Workshops that hire people (over 500.000) to play online games such as World of Warcraft (WoW) day and night. The gaming workers produce in-game currency, equipments, and whole characters that are sold to American and European Gamers via Ebay. These people are called „Chinese Gold Farmers”. The future is now! In Warcraft, it’s the currency itself that’s being overproduced, not just any product. That means it’ll take more units of that currency to exchange for any product. Inflation. The price of everything goes up. Everything you worked so hard to save up suddenly becomes worth so much less. The Warcraft economy appears to be on the lip of this plunge and administrators are taking steps to curb inflation. When they find a career farmer, they ban the character. Now the farming company has to re-buy the game and set up a new account. This makes the process of creating these goods overseas more expensive, and functions similar to a tariff (which is a protective tax). There is a balance, which in the real world, the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve, and International Organizations try to maintain. And by maintain, I mean getting as much cheap shit for themselves as possible without throwing the system completely out of whack. (In the finance industry, human rights is a footnote, if anything.) What lies ahead for the Warcraft economy? Let’s keep watching it in the future.


Dan Pinchbeck Dear Esther (2008)
A deserted island… a lost man… memories of a fatal crash… a book written by a dying explorer. Dear Esther is a ghost story told using first-person gaming technologies. Rather than traditional gameplay, the focus here is on exploration, uncovering the mystery of the island, of who you are and why you are here. Fragments of story are randomly triggered by moving around the environments, making every telling unique. Features a stunning, specially commissioned soundtrack. Forget the normal rules of play; if nothing seems real here, it’s because it may just be all a delusion. What is the significance of the aerial – What happened on the motorway – is the island real or imagined – who is Esther and why has she chosen to summon you here? The answers are out there, on the lost beach and the tunnels under the island. Or then again, they may just not be, after all…


Georgie Roxby Smith The Fall Girl (2012)
Placed as prop, non player, damsel in distress or sub-hero, the gaming female character is rarely a ‘player’ of any importance. Where female character heroes are in place, they are often overtly sexualized, such as the hyper real soft pornography of Lara Croft’s female form. The male gaze manifests itself bi-fold in an immersive environment populated by young men invested in hours of play and character’s own digital peers. The Fall Girl is a recreated death glitch which occurred whilst playing Skyrim. This death loop magnifies and distorts the violence against the female body and, in its relentlessness, begins to blur between the lines between intention – suicide, murder, accident or perpetual punishment. By removing the game play in between scenes, which when isolated are disturbing in their sharp focus, the viewer becomes critically aware of the hyper- representation of the character and the violence enacted against her. The protagonist is eternally and perpetually punished in an inescapable digital loop.


Janek Simon Carpet Invaders (2002)
Carpet Invaders is an interactive installation. A computer game is projected onto the floor. The game’s graphic is taken from a 19th century Caucasians prayer rug. The game is a clone of an early arcade classic – Space Invaders. Ornaments found on the rug turned out to be almost identical as the original graphics of the game. The game can be played with a gamepad hanging next to the projection The sound resembles that of early consoles and eight bit computers.


Riley Harmon What it is Without the Hand That Wields it (2008)
Violence is an inevitable, mechanical function of the human brain, hard-coded down through time by culture, genetics, and evolution. Mediated experiences of killing change our perception of violence and death. As players die in a public video game server for Counter-strike, a popular online first person shooter, the electronic solenoid valves spray a small amount of fake blood. The trails left down the wall create a physical manifestation of nebulous kills. In simple terms it is about manifesting experiences that are purely virtual, or only ‘real’ in a psychological sense, into the physical world – physical computing.


Ollie Ma Open World (2016)
A young artist from Buckinghamshire, Ollie Ma is currently studying Photography at Nottingham Trent University. His practice deals “with feelings of dislocation and disconnection and has been informed by the theatrical conventions of epic theatre, as well as the form of storytelling pioneered by John Wyndham called logical fantasy”. Ma’s latest project is titled Open World and juxtaposes/integrates photographs taken in Grand Theft Auto V with views and portraits shot IRL, inviting the viewer to play a comparative game.


Hunter Jonakin Jeff Koons Must Die (2011)
The game invites players to obliterate Koons’ artworks in a point-of-view style shooting game. Jonakin’s 2011 game is set in a Koons retrospective in which the player destroys Koons’ sculptures. Eventually, the player is attacked by curators, guards and lawyers beforing coming to a fatal end.


Paolo Pedercini Welcome to the Desert of the Real (2006)
Welcome to the Desert of the Real is a rather straightforward appropriation and remix of two sources: footage taken in America’s Army and text from the “Post-traumatic stress disorder checklist (military version)”. The first is the successful first person shooter created by the US Army for recruitment and PR purposes; the latter is a self-diagnosis questionnaire for veterans potentially affected by PTSD. Both elements come from military institutions, but by juxtaposing them I hoped to challenge their order of discourse. America’s Army is a propagandistic representation of war, because it’s an action packed game that presents an ideal battlefield with no civilian or social fabric, where two symmetrical and clearly distinct teams fight each other in a paintball game fashion. And worst of all, this is presented as a realistic approximation of the military experience. You don’t need to be deployed in Iraq to detect the multiple levels of mystification here.


Anders Visti PONGdrian v1.0 (2007)
Anders Visti’s PONGdrian v1.0 is a game that mixes the videogame PONG with the art of Piet Mondrian. Two players can play against each other, and the game has four levels. In every level there is a painting by Piet Mondrian in the middle. When the ball hits the painting it starts to crumble into small pieces of squares and rectangles and creating new abstract patterns based on the players performance. PONGdrian was first exhibited at the Møstings Hus, København in May 2007.


David Borawski burn out and erased by the first rain (2010)
Borawski shot this video in/with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. This machinima illustrates the notion of “going around in circles”. As the artist explains, “The virtual biker does an extended circular burn out, using the motorcycle’s image of freedom and rebellion as a starting point. The video alternates normal speed and slo-mo, with a cross dissolve that expands and then reverts.


Yuichiro Katsumoto Amagatana (2009)
The ordinary umbrella, a common weapon against the dreary weather, becomes an imaginative device for solo augmented- reality gaming. In an attempt to brighten everyday commutes through the city, the player swings the umbrella to hit an invisible opponent’s blade. A self-contained performance, the piece turns jousting into an endlessly entertaining form of independent gameplay.


Hugo Arcier Ghost City (2016)
In Hugo Arcier’s new installation, the architecture of Grand Theft Auto becomes a reflective and ruminative experience. Inspired by Lucrece’s De rerum natura, Ghost City immerses the viewer in a phantasmatic urban environment, devoid of (artificial) life. The atmospheric score by Bernard Szajner makes the experience eerie and haunting.


foci + loci Flotonium Snowdrift and Moonfield (2010)
Treating the map editors in video games as virtual sound stages, foci + loci create immersive electro-acoustic spaces with virtual instruments and timed audiovisual events. Saving and replaying digital game data, camera movement in space can be disassociated from time, changing traditional filmic relationships. We are interested in exploring the topological treatment of time and space afforded by game engines.


Workspace Unlimited THEY WATCH (2009)
They Watch is an immersive art installation with virtual characters literally watching visitors. Several duplicates of the virtual characters – one man, one woman, and both portraits of the artists – surround and interact with visitors, who are tracked as they move about the physical space, and even projected into the virtual space. Years of research and development with game-technology have resulted in a 360° audio-visual environment, exploiting a 15-meter-wide panoramic screen and a 32-channel sound system. The subtle collaboration of the real and virtual agents and environments conflate to engender a hybrid space where the observer becomes the observed. Figuratively wearing a virtual camera causes the on-screen characters to approach and to retreat, analogously altering the soundtrack; characters that, as visitors will come to discover, are aware of their presence. They watch. Visitors’ movements activate visual cues and affect the characters’ spontaneous, unscripted behaviors, so that the installation’s visual and sonic compositions are uniquely influenced by the visit. The piece becomes a composition in movement whereby non-linear blends of real and virtual force visitors to consider perspective, agency, and the distinction between authentic and imagined as They Watch.


Akihito Taniguchi 浅草クレイジーホース倶楽部♯2 / BROADJ♯1832 (2016)
Akihiko Taniguchi is an artist working and living in Japan. He teaches at Musashino Art Univ and Joshibi University of Art and Design. He creates installations, performances and video works using self-built devices and software. In recent years, he concentrates on net art work. and sometimes VJing. Main exhibitions include “dangling media” (“emergencies! 004” at “Open Space 2007,” ICC, Tokyo, 2007), “Space of Imperception” (Radiator Festival, UK, 2009), “redundant web” (Internet, 2010) “[Internet Art Future?]” (ICC, Tokyo, 2012) and more.


Michiel van der Zanden Pwned Paintings #1 & Pwned Paintings #2 (2008)
Michiel van der Zanden is a visual artist fascinated by the language of games and 3D graphics. Growing up playing playing first-person shooters and looking at virtual environments through the eyes of a painter, van der Zanden realized that digital media artists use techniques similar to those applied by traditional artists to generate illusions. Van der Zanden is not simply fascinated by games. He sees in gaming an attempt to recreate daily life phenomena through simulation. This desire can also be found in children’s toys and amusement parks, model making, and advertising. Van der Zanden’s practice combines realistic painting and computer generated imagery. His work is characterized by a constant interaction between the real and virtual, between classical painting and digital imaging. The outcome is a painting style that looks like it was produced by a computer program, but also overly synthetic sculptures and software-based videos.


Mark Essen Booloid (2009)
Mark Essen aka messhof has always been known for making unconventional, not to mention tough, games. Booloid (a sequel to Bool) is one of his earlier works and plays out like one big balancing act – you control a ship and must rescue stranded Boolians with your tractor beam, as well as sucking up purple liquid (when you see a pool of it) to keep your ship cool so that you may keep on flying. You must also try and make sure you do not touch the landscape, which will bring your energy down significantly, although it will recharge after a certain period. Ship parts can be found (also sucked up with your handy tractor beam) and later used to upgrade your ship. You get three lives but fortunately there are save spots throughout the game. Graphically, the game takes a sharp-lined, minimalist approach, using only a few bright colours to illustrate surroundings. It works.


Feng Mengbo The Long March: Restart (2009)
With “Q4U” the Chinese New Media Artist Feng Mengbo introduced Game Art to the international art scene at Documenta 11. His latest work is a videogame called Restart based on the “Long March: Game Over”, a series of 42 oil paintings made in 1994, which links the Long March, (a famous Chinese military campaign, from 1934 to 1936, led by which Mao Zedong) with signs of popular entertainment as videogames. The paintings resemble screen shots from early home gaming system, with digitized Red Army solider who hurls cans of Coca-Cola at his enemies, with a cast of characters that range from Street Fighters to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The videogame is an interactive installation based on the paintings.


Jason Rohrer Passage (2007)
Passage, created by Jason Rohrer, is an exercise in gaming minimalism. Made for korokomi’s gamma 256 competition, It’s only five minutes long, it weighs in at less than 500kb, it takes place on a 100×16 field of pixels, and it only requires the arrow keys. It’s also one of the most clever, meaningful, affecting, and memorable games ever made. To say too much about Passage before you’ve played it — to describe how I played through it, and how it affected me — is to spoil it. Passage is about life: what it feels like, how we live it, and how we find happiness. There is no true “right” or “wrong” way the play the game, and much of Passage’s brilliance can only be understood through completing it yourself. Let it be known, however, that whatever emotions you feel, whatever symbolism you notice, or whatever meaning you derive from the game’s movement and visual mechanics, were all totally intentional. The “games as art” debate is officially over.


Pippin Barr The Artist is Present (2011)
Computer game research professor and author of the upcoming book How To Play A Video Game Pippin Barr has made a subversively boring game called The Artist is Present. It simulates the experience of waiting in line to see contemporary artist Marina Abramović, who held an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2010. Her show, also titled “The Artist is Present,” created a frenzy of media attention and hours-long waits for the chance to sit across from Abramović and look into her eyes for as long as you wanted. “I wanted to make a video game about art, [and] few works of contemporary art have that kind of famousness and stature that this [exhibit did],” Barr told me in a phone interview from Copenhagen this morning. “At first I just thought a game about this would be hilarious, but then I realized there could be some seriousness to it as well. No one has ever really made a video game about the experience of contemporary art.” He was unconcerned that the game might seem outdated, seeing as it came to life over a year after the show closed. “I don’t really think of it as that tied to the actual exhibit. It’s more about art in general.” Barr’s game, designed in delightfully old-fashioned graphics, compels you to—spoiler alert—go to the museum, pay for a ticket, walk through a couple of galleries (bedecked with 8-bit versions of such paintings as Starry Night) and then get at the back of a long line of 8-bit people. The game itself is set to the museum’s hours, so players can only enjoy it when MoMA is open (Eastern Standard Time, of course). “It’s also closed on Tuesdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas,” Barr adds.


Brent Watanabe San Andreas Deer Cam (2016)
Artist Brent Watanabe modified Grand Theft Auto V: San Andreas to create the San Andreas Deer Cam. In other words, it’s a deer wandering the world of GTA V. And that’s all. Watching this deer interact with the game world is mesmerizing, at times hilarious, and often soothing. As I watch the deer now, he’s wandering around a street at sunset, as passing cars honk and drivers curse at him. Earlier, he was wandering the beach. Before that, he wandered into a knife fight, then ran away.




p.s. Hey. ** Damien Ark, Hi. Pretty nice costume resume there. I haven’t heard the new Tim Hecker, but, yeah, I’ll be quite surprised if it’s not so hot. I’m not anti-prog by any means. You should see my record collection from the ’70s back in LA, but it’s true I haven’t dipped in there much of late. King Crimson is playing about three blocks from me in November, and I’m debating. Haven’t heard the Basinski either. I’m behind. Will so be there. Take it easy. ** Jamie, Hi, bud. I think my faves are fairly lined up with yours. Buy ghoulish stuff! If there was even half-decent ghoulish stuff for sale in Paris, I would do the same. Can’t spill the good news yet, but I will when officialdom arrives. Things are … good, I guess. The ARTE meeting is this afternoon. I dread it severely. Like I think I said here maybe, there is kind of no possible news from there that could be good. Better bad or really bad. We’ll see. Still finishing proposal docs for the new film so we can get everything translated. Waiting to hear if we get any funding from a couple of early asks. Oh, wow, RIP to your job. Because of the Brussels move? Do you still play with The Pastels? Yeah, MMtC … who has the guts to make TV like that these days? Nobody, as far as I can tell. It’s all genre stuff with stylish infusions. I really quite like the second Burton Batman movie, the one with Danny De Vito as the Penguin, but otherwise the 60s TV show is definitely the Batman high watermark, I think. My Wednesday: hang out with pals Michael, Bene, kiddo Milo, and Zac over in the 16th. Then Zac and I scoped out our theme park-oriented road trip to Germany next week, which we’ll cement with hotel reservations, etc. today. Some PGL schmoozing. Ate some rice. Not a huge day, but all right. May Thursday make you feel the way people presumably felt when they saw The Beatles in concert in 1965. Surfacing submarine love, Dennis. ** JM, Yay, disconcertion is the golden gate to genius. Well, then I hope your day is a microcosm of your favorite century. ** _Black_Acrylic, Ha ha, you were an infinitely better dead Steve Jobs than that loser. I was just told yesterday that an artist I know you like, and me too, Lucy McKenzie, is going to write me an email. I wonder why. ** Steve Erickson, Ha, well, not exactly, but my character does tell Sagat’s character that if he beats the shit out of the boy I’ve replaced him with, I’ll give him some money, so my character is not a shining armour-wearing type. I saw Christophe’s new film, yeah. I’m mixed about it. I’ve been wanting to see ‘In My Room’ for a while. Well, a short while, but still. ** Misanthrope, Gosh, thanks for your permission, sir. I’ll use it wisely. Maybe. Probably not. But maybe. Authoritative? Me? What do you mean? I’m blanking. If there was ever a year when the world needs a really fucking great, intense Halloween, it’s this year. ** Corey Heiferman, Hi. Yeah, it was a goodie, right? I was never a Trekkie. Oh, wait, I was pretty into ‘The Next Generation’, and that character (in the video) especially, so thank you. I did a whole post devoted to Will Wheaton’s Ensign Crusher here years ago. Maybe I should restore it. Or … maybe not. Never heard of Caterina Barbieri before. What a hype-y title on that article. I’ll peruse it and listen. Thank you for that too. Oh, gotcha, about the English pollution. Hm, no, you know, people say the French are all fascist about their language, but, in the reality I know, they all sprinkle their French with English tidbits and don’t seem to blink when others do. There’s a beautiful abandoned theme park on the edge of Berlin: Spreepark. There’s Filmpark Babelsberg, which I haven’t been to but that doesn’t look so exciting. But, otherwise, there really isn’t a bonifiably good theme park near Berlin. They’re all in the west of Germany. Why, I don’t know. ** Okay. There are some odd, fun, interesting games up there for you if you’re game. See you tomorrow.


  1. Marilyn Roxie

    I think you’d love Secret Habitat if you haven’t checked it out already 🙂

  2. Damien Ark

    Dude. DUDE! You have to go. King Crimson might play Lizard live, which is insanely badass in that setting. I don’t know if you’ve heard their recent live albums, but they’re by far the best albums I’ve heard of this decade! Just fucking nuts, chaotic energy coming from super old dudes that seem to only get better at what they’re doing.
    This is by far one of the most fascinating posts I’ve seen in a long time. So bizarre and exciting. I can’t help but think about the video of a dude destroying Ai WeiWei vases ( ). Hard to pick my favorite. Maybe the deer wandering in GTA for an hour? I always found things like that soothing, even though I’m not into video games, but how you can have your character not do anything, then just absorb the ambient sounds of the virtual world. Skyrim is big for that. You can find 10 hour videos of recordings of that nature, sometimes people just walking around to interact with the ambiance of the game.
    With this and the recent novel post, I was curious if there’s any particular sci-fi or dystopian stuff you really enjoy reading. If so, have any favorites or recommendations? Almost done with the new Sotos (not sci-fi). Seems like his confession book or something. You know, it’s not something to read in public at all. Not even in a private setting in a library. Curious what you make of it. It’s definitely not my favorite of his of three that I own. What excites me is that I can probably make a thousand bucks in 5 years off of them, lol.

  3. scunnard

    Hi Dennis, there’s a lot of new to me stuff in today’s, so I’m glad I randomly stumbled across it. How have you been? Are you still game for having a book day here when mine comes out? What does that entail cuz I’m excited. Also do you have a current mailing address so I can have the publisher send you one when time and also wondering if I have your current email?

  4. scunnard

    …sorry if this posts twice, browser ate my comment.

    Hi Dennis, there’s a lot of new to me stuff in today’s, so I’m glad I randomly stumbled across it. How have you been? Are you still game for having a book day here when mine comes out? What does that entail cuz I’m excited. Also do you have a current mailing address so I can have the publisher send you one when time and also wondering if I have your current email?

  5. Jamie

    Hey D-spot!
    Nice post. I was oddly entranced by that Marco Van Ginkel study and liked the Akihito Taniguchi piece without fully getting what was going on within it. I want to play Passage. Lol at The Artist is Present. Have you see this –
    – I can’t find the whole series (or at least a link to it that works, but I love the look of it. Do you know his stuff? It all seems videogame based.
    How are you? How was the dreaded meeting? I hope it was better than anticipated.
    Yeah, I handed in my notice due to the Brussels move. I’m not going till late Dec/Jan, but I thought it’d be decent to give my employers as much warning as possible. They’re sad and I’m sad.
    I’ve not played with the Pastels for a couple of years, but I’ve a feeling I wasn’t regularly commenting here when I quit, so I probably never said. I was enjoying playing live less and less every time. I saw Stephen and co last week at the ESCPAE-ISM show, which was nice as I haven’t seen them in forever and I was worried that I’d been excommunicated from the Glasgow indie mafia.
    I’ve kind of enjoyed all incarnations of Batman on some level, but nothing has the magic of that TV show. A few years ago when Grant Morrison was launching a new Batman comic book written by him, he hyped it as being like the ’60s Batman TV show, but directed by David Lynch’. I was so excited, but of course nothing could live up to what I imagined.
    My mum once told that she saw the Beatles in play live once and screamed through the entire set. I liked this as it seemed so unlike anything my mum would ever do. I reminded her of this fairly recently and she said it wasn’t true.
    How was your Thursday? We drove up to Dundee and visited the V&A (wee bit of a letdown ‘in the flesh’,) the DCA and the Muriel Spark exhibition that Black_Acrylic mentioned in here. I like the Spark thing a lot. It was kind of tawdry and askew.
    Hey, you’re going to Germany next week! What day(s)? How exciting!
    May Friday make you feel the way I felt when I saw Rihanna live and she rose out of a hole in the stage wearing a kind of barbed wire dress (hint: very very good).
    Freshly laundered love,

  6. Steve Erickson

    Speaking of King Crimson, I really heard some of the live albums in THE ROAD TO RED box set, and they’re very impressive – the band, or at least their 1973 lineup had an ability to improvise without sounding like jam band wanking. But I can see the parallels between them and the Grateful Dead, starting with the fact that they have fans hardcore enough to buy a 13-CD set of live albums. (There’s a similar one for STARLESS AND BIBLE BLACK.) I follow someone on Twitter who usually only posts on politics, but when KC played Washington, DC last year, he saw them two nights in a row (and posted photos.)

    Here’s my review of French one-woman band Christine and the Queens’ CHRIS:

    I got my first invite to a press screening of the SUSPIRIA remake. If all goes well, I will be writing an article about this and David Gordon Green’s HALLOWEEN remake, but I have huge trepidation about the very idea of this film.

    I’ve heard a lot of praise for the Beach Boys’ HOLLAND lately. Sam Neill’s winery has 3 separate lists of his favorite songs: one devoted entirely to the Beach Boys, where he says PET SOUNDS is overrated and their early ’70s music is better. In the case of SUNFLOWER and about half of SURF’S UP, I agree that they made great music then which gets overlooked. I listened to HOLLAND for the first time today. I thought it had a lot going for it at first, but the spoken word/storytelling section that makes up its final third just grated on me.

    When I have time to write a second draft of my current script, I am planning to take out much of the overt discussion about politics on the talk show within it and replace the professor with a book about free speech on campus with an actor in (or maybe the director of) a film about a serial killer based on Jeffrey Dahmer that never shows the killer but follows several of his victims in the last few hours of their lives up to the point before they met him. That could spark some interesting talk without loading things with “SJWs are destroying the First Amendment etc.”

  7. _Black_Acrylic

    This evening I was at the Generator to see my friend Valerie Norris giving a talk about her work. Back in 1999 Val was curated by her fellow Dundee alumnus Lucy McKenzie to appear in Shake the Disease, a show LM had organised at the art school’s Lower Foyer Gallery. So it’s a small world but I wouldn’t wanna paint it haha.

  8. James Nulick


    When will you be in Tokyo? I will be there Oct 29 – Nov 10. Me and the other half are staying at the Hilton Tokyo in Shinjuku. Have you ever attended the Halloween celebrations in Shibuya? The entire street(s) are alive with celebrants. It’s total fun and pure unadulterated madness! Perhaps we could get together in Tokyo? I met up with Paul Curran there a few years ago. Please let me know.

    Much love,

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