THE HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE
 

Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
Digital Prints
16th October - 5th December 2004

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The White Room
In-game photoshoot of manipulated gamespace interiors - Digital Prints - 8in.x6in.


The White Room is a set of photographic prints resulting from an in-game photo shoot that documents a series of constructed disasters. These interiors were set up by the artist using the videogame Max Payne 2, a 'Film Noir' thriller that tells a tale of lost love, deception and betrayal. The shoot took place within the game's developer mode using the GOD and GETALLWEAPONS cheats and BenDMan'S 'bloody mod 1.2'. By transforming the game environment into a ready-made urban studio space, the objects and interiors were altered using the in-game weapons with the gore from dead enemies being used to 'paint' the sets before being unceremoniously blasted out of view and the scene captured. The events implied never happened in the game, they are not representations of 'real-life' crimes nor are they illustrations of fictional crime stories. These are silent witnesses, containers demanding context, they are waiting places.

Press Article

4 page article from Jumpbutton magazine issue 1 (Australian Games, Art and Culture magazine) - a really good article on the evidencia series get the pdf here (7MB)

 

 

The House in the Middle...

John Paul Bichard, Richard Billingham, Jo Broughton, John Kippin, Martin Parr, Paul Reas, Danny Treacy and Dirk Wackerfuss - in an exhibition of photographs of interior design in the nuclear age - Curated by Gordon MacDonald

Gordon MacDonald comments:

House in the middle is a show that looks at the interior as artifice, as a stage on which the viewer can imagine various scenarios being played out. Show homes, television and photographic sets, porn studios and environments specifically created by artists all show interpretations of the domestic interior, but are all made with an ulterior motivation. They sell us a product or make us believe that actors are occupying a ‘real’ space, into which we are allowed to intrude unnoticed.

Key to this exhibition is the film The House in the Middle, a 1953 government information film describing how to make the interior and exterior of a house safe from a nuclear blast by cleaning, painting and buying new furniture. Similarly photographs from the Los Alamos National Laboratory show the Typical American Community, a town inhabited by mannequins and designed to test the effects on a residential area of being at the epicentre of a nuclear explosion. Both the film and the photographs were sponsored by business and served as points of sale for the paint, furniture and clothing industries,’

Selected works and an installation view here

The exhibition catalogue is available from Photoworks here
The House in the Middle: Photographs of Interior Design in The Nuclear Age
Hardback, 200mm x 160mm, 80 pages, 50 illustrations
Designed by LOUP
Limited Edition of 1000
ISBN: 1-903796-14-8, Published in 2004
£12.95
Click on the book for more details.

 

Bichard comments:

As the digital image increasingly becomes a fragmentary medium of conversation, experience sharing and personal exchange, the photograph can increasingly be seen as a traditional cutural 'truth', a commonly understood site for cultural discourse.

'The White Room' explores not only the role of the photographic image in the digital era but also the role of the artist in the virtual world. By conducting the shoot entirely within the game and the confines of a digital space, the artist becomes a game player assuming the role of photgrapher; the gaming interface becomes the camera and the viewpoint of the photographer; and the digital capture from within the virtual world is made 'real' as a photographic artifact. The artist becomes at once a producer and spectator of their means of production.

Realised as a collection of objects: photographic artifacts layed out in a glass case, the White room prints provoke the viewer to re-assess what is understood by a 'photograph' and to reflect on how the virtual world can be occupied, explored and re-contextualised.

...white paint.

'The dingy house on the left… the dirty and littered house on the right… or the clean white house in the middle… it is your choice - the reward may be… survival.'

With patriotic verve and concerned undertones, the presenter closes the National Clean-Up Paint-Up Fix-Up Bureau's ‘scientific’ documentary ‘House in the Middle’. The film extols the virtues of ‘beauty, cleanliness, health and safety’ in an effort to motivate American citizens to clean up their houses and neighbourhoods to protect them from the threat of…(nuclear attack). The film shows a number of real-life mock-ups at a nuclear test site, that prove conclusively that run-down, unkempt houses will perish in a blast whilst clean, tidy painted (white) houses will stand virtually unscathed. The contrast between white middle class suburbia and the stereotypical image of an implied black neighbourhood: poor, scruffy and litter ridden, allied with the rhetoric of survival and virtue seems only to reinforce the social prejudices of the time and reinforce the neurotic, paranoiac drive to conformity prevelent in mid 50’s America. View movie here

On 8th December 1953, President Dwight D Eisenhower stood before the United Nations to deliver his ‘Atoms for Peace’ speech. His plea was noble; to divert the disastrous course of nuclear science from a destructive path headlong into armageddon, to a utopian world collective nuclear energy plan where science could tame the atom for the good of mankind. In private, the president was simultaneously ratifying policies to accelerate nuclear arms proliferation, as devastatingly illustrated by the 1954 Bikini Atoll 'Bravo' test, the first and largest detonation of an H bomb that surprised both the scientific and political communities by its intensity. View lecture here - Bikiniatoll.com

Early 50’s America was a time of shifting domestic and social values. On December 1st 1955, Rosa Parks was returning from work when she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. Her arrest and trial, followed by the 381 day Montgomery bus boycott, led to the Supreme Court's ruling in November 1956 that segregation on transportation is unconstitutional. A year earlier, the first rumblings of a new subculture were emerging as a young Elvis Aaron Presley made his debut 1953 recording at Sun Studio and Marlon Brando appeared in The Wild One, a film that struck fear into the heart of middle America, as the films opening squence warns: ‘ This is a shocking story. It could never take place in most American towns - but it did in this one. It is a public challenge not to let it happen again.’ Rosa Parks - Sun Studio - The Wild One

In 1953, Arthur Miller was denied a passport to attend the premiere of his play 'The Crucible'. The play, itself a chronicle of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, was an allegory for the anti communist 'witch hunt' stirred up by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Although McCarthy was discredited and the 1950 list of 205 communists who had allegedly infiltrated the state department was never publshed, his accusations bought about a climate of suspicion and intolerance, Miller, in a comment at the time, accepted the notion that conscience was no longer a private matter but one of state administration. Notes on The Crucible

 

 


Copyright

Copyright © John Paul Bichard 2004 - All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means, nor stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the author with the exception of the case in which brief quotations embodied in information, articles, etc, and which are given appropriate credit. All content on this site is protected under copyright law.

Screenshots are taken from the developer version of Max Payne 2 running the standard game maps. Max Payne is a trademark of Rockstar Games /Take Two Interactive. Max Payne 2 is Copyright © Rockstar Games 2003 - for more info go here

'bloody mod 1.2' was created by BenDMan as a modification for Max Payne 2.

e-mail john[at sign]hydropia[dot]org

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