On Feb 25, 2016, I went to the gallery opening titled One 2 One by Joe McKasy. The exhibition contained both interactive and traditional non-interactive pieces. Joe Mckasy describes himself as both an artist and a game designer. With this gallery, he wanted to make pieces that were artistic, but still universal enough that it didn’t take an art historian to understand them. He also likes to incorporate an element of humor into his work.
One of the interactive pieces, called Plus Plus, was this rolling wheel with two tablets attached to it. This piece was a collab with Kristin Lucas. You could roll the piece around the gallery and the tablets would display numbers that counted up with each rotation of the piece. One tablet counted the rotations in one direction and the other tablet counted the rotations in the other direction. McKasy describes the piece as being like a spool or a “digital tumbleweed.” In order to make this piece, he had to hack the tablets, and he liked the feeling of hacking into the tablets and making them do something beyond their creators’ original purpose and how they were intended to be used.
Another interactive piece, spontaneously named Cellograph via a suggestion from the crowd, consisted of two flip phones each connected to a telegraph machine and linked via a network of cables that hung from the ceiling. When you pushed the lever, it would cause the flip phone on the opposite side of the room to flip open. The artist described the piece as being somewhat goofy, but somehow feeling right. He was inspired by how people kept their old cell phones in a drawer when they got a new phone because they find it hard to suddenly discard something that you’ve used so often and become attached to. He felt that through this piece, he was taking a communication device that was obsolete and making it into a new communication device.
The last interactive piece was a videogame titled 4 Mice, a piece that the artist wanted to be both fun to watch and fun to play. It was controlled with two mouses for each player, which would move the intersection points on the player’s shape. Beside the mice controllers, there was a sheet with instructions on how to play. The goal was to touch dots of a certain color while avoiding dots of other colors. The artist wanted to create a controller system that was innovative, but also still easy for galleries to set up. He came up with the idea of using 2 mice, one in each hand, as a controller because of how familiar yet awkward it felt, since people are used to using one mouse but not two. The artist designed it to be a difficult game, like a rage game, because he realized that people had the most dopamine (the “happiness hormone”) when they died in a game. He wanted to find a balance between artistic games and art, while still having it be fun and not boring.
Among his non-interactive pieces were some photo collages of the older Google Street cars that he constructed from Google Maps images by using only reflections of the the Google Street car. He found an element of humor to it because of how the old Google Street cars looked like creeper vans and not very professional while they were doing professional company work. In order to save himself a lot of time, he went out on his bicycle around his town and noted all the areas to look for good reflections. He then went back on the computer and found those locations on Google Street View, and sure enough, they generated good reflections of the Google Street car.
This last non-interactive piece of his was a short animation clip projected onto the wall. The animation was done via rotoscoping, using a video of a young man failing to use a Segway properly and slowly falling over. The artist was inspired by how technology such as this has high expectations for how it will change the world, and then it ends up being rather underwhelming. He found a lot of humor in the clip because of the pathetic nature of the individual’s attempt to ride the device, and how he even manages to lose a shoe when the device was barely moving, if at all.