Mario’s Furniture 2 : A Mushkin-Barnet Game

October 28, 2006 6:00 pm to December 2, 2006
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Mario’s Furniture 2, an installation and interactive game, will be exhibited at TELIC Arts Exchange in Chinatown from October 28th to December 3rd. Created by artists Hillary Mushkin and S.E. Barnet, Mario’s Furniture integrates wireless technology with artistic production and performance. In most video games you just sit on the couch, but when you play Mario’s Furniture you MOVE the couch, in fact you move the whole living room!

Mario’s Furniture began in 2002 as a video installation, including a single night of performance. Four years later, Mario’s Furniture 2 - created with programmer Clay Chaplin and electronic specialist Lorin Parker - is now a wireless environment where viewers become players, physically moving objects before a relentlessly panning camera, all the while watching themselves and their scores in real time on a large-screen projection.

In Mario’s Furniture 2 the body is actualized in real and virtual space simultaneously. Players can’t merely manipulate an avatar with a joystick. Playing Mario’s Furniture involves strenuous physicality, parodying conventional video games in which avatars are put in peril while players sit on a couch. Players must physically move the couch to play the
game. Mario’s emphasizes how camera and screen effect the construction of social relationships. Players see themselves (and not a stand in) under the camera’s scrutiny, humorously mirroring the absurdity of living within the frame.

Mushkin and Barnet look at technological and narrative ways in which video and digital media unfold and complicate meaning. The game critically remarks on aesthetics and narrative boy-logic of computer games while reflecting on theories of the digitally decentered subject. The artists’ racing antics against the camera alludes to Chaplin and Keaton, Mario Brothers, Tomb Raider and the deadline pressed “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Los Angeles based artists Hillary Mushkin and S.E. Barnet have been working together periodically for six years on collaborations that challenge the differentiation between real and virtual worlds. Using video projections, performance and new media technologies, their collaborative work explores mediated experiences of space, time and identity.
In 2005 their collaborative project Mario’s Furniture was developed in residencies at the Bolsky Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles and at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena.

In her individual practice, Barnet makes videos, installations and new media works that play with the discrepancy of the actual to the expected. Her practice integrates the public realm, whether in the form of physical landscape, political environment, social community, or a combination thereof. Barnet’s work recently (2006) screened at the ICA in London.

In Mushkin’s individual work in video, animation, installation, and print, landscape is shaped by nostalgia and socio-politics. Since 2002 she has focused on American ideals of comfort and security in an increasingly militarized society. Mushkin’s work has shown internationally, including an upcoming (2007) group exhibition at the Freud Museum in London.

Clay Chaplin is a composer, improviser, and video artist from Los Angeles. He has worked on many projects throughout the US, Europe, and Japan involving experimental music, video, improvisation, and custom electronics. Clay has given workshops on computer music and digital media for various universities and electronic arts groups in California. He is currently the Technical Director for the Computer Music and Experimental Media Studios at CalArts and a member of the composition faculty. Clay’s latest CD is available on Artifact Recordings.

Lorin Edwin Parker is an artist specializing in technology and art. Parker designed and built the wireless sensor system and electronics hardware for Marios Furniture from scratch. He is also a sound artist, sculptor and sound designer, renown for his creation of new instruments, synthesizer and robots. Parker has exhibited and performed works throughout the US and Europe. Parker is the proud inventor and builder of the only steam powered synthesizer known to exist. Currently he teaches sound design at the Art Institute of CA, Los Angeles as well as running a productive studio, Atticus Lo-Fi ™.