[iDC] A somewhat off-topic but relevant graduate project at Parsons

David Carroll carrolld at newschool.edu
Wed Sep 23 19:35:44 UTC 2009

I've been lurking on the list thinking about how to contribute and  
introduce myself. An opportunity has presented itself through a very  
recent graduate student project. While this particular project is  
disruptive in subject matter, the mention of it on this list is not  
meant to be a disruption to the terrific essays that have been  
threading nicely along the conference themes.

My MFA thesis student in the Parsons Design & Technology program, Zach  
Gage, has launched an "art game" which is stirring up substantial  
controversy online called "Lose/Lose." It outlandishly deletes your  
files as you win and deletes itself as you lose. Is it malware? No,  
because it clearly discloses the outcome of playing, rather than  
employing deception. What constitutes an "art game?" The student has  
only recently discovered Flux kits and other playable artworks.

Here are a few links that point to the project's site and some coverage:

Certainly, the project interrogates the notions of play, property,  
privacy and the problems of virtual/actual agency. Considering the  
topic of labor, the applicability of the project is more of a stretch,  
but something (albeit simplistic) is there. Indeed, the "work" of play  
here disrupts the habits of a regular game mechanic through reversal  
(i.e., to not play is to win; to reject the assignment of a weaponized  
player as the vocation of an alien killer).

Perhaps what's most interesting about this project, which is merely a  
design research experiment working towards formulating a greater body  
of work, is the collective labor of playing of the game and/or just  
responding to it. Zach remains surprised that anyone actually plays  
the game despite its clearly stated effect (it will delete your files  
and destroy your digital property). Yet, the high-score list is  
growing. In addition, it serves as a theoretical work because the  
designer's statement clearly states the rationale for its creation and  
release into the wild.

Maybe I am just curious if this experiment merits any scholarly  
consideration? What advice would you give this student if he was your  
MFA thesis candidate?

thank you.

David Carroll
Assistant Professor of Media Design
School of Art, Media & Technology
Parsons The New School for Design
2 West 13 Street, Room L1106
New York, NY 10011
212 229 8908 x4092 office
917 302 1296 mobile

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