Happy Doomsday!

Catalogue description of the work "Happy Doomsday!," published in "The Art of the Accident," 1998.

HD! is an art project that reflects on the culture of war by using the conventions of computer gaming. HD! starts from the premise that war and interactivity have common patterns, a view that lies beyond enthusiasm and critique, somewhere in the limbo of entertainment itself.

The visitors access HD! via an installation that consists of two fitness machines connected to a media system (computer, data projector, sound). By working out on the fitness machine, the user can navigate through and act in a virtual multi-user environment which is essentially a simulator of European history. Depending on preliminary options and the physical performance, a database can be accessed containing information about military history and cultural history in still images, documentary and feature films, news reels, etc. A mix of war, cultural, political and other human generated sounds are shaping a mood setting ambiance where the narrative channel interferes, inserting short dialogues between various supporting characters. Defined also at the level of graphics, these characters are giving guidance to the players, keeping alive the quotational character of Happy Doomsday! as a 'game about game playing'. The fitness machines are instruments through which two competing users can influence the political developments represented in the virtual environment and change history into a personal fiction.

Sex, lies & video games

In the attempt of understanding what interactivity is, HD! uses the basic reactive set up of two human beings. Corporal interaction between humans is limited both in aggression and acceptance, and boredom often sets in quite rapidly. In order to keep up the necessary level of attention, another feature has to intervene. We normally call it dialogue; although probably a more generic name should be applied, and that is story telling. No matter how short, story telling is actually the real motivation for dialogues, where people are throwing at each other images, actions, topographic descriptions intersecting in a non-linear succession. But the reactive set is not this - it is the shoestring virtual space between the physical performance of the narrator and the mental visualization of the audience, between figuration and abstraction, between the spoken and the speculative, between the named and the unnamed, the immediate and the projected.

Computer Game Europe

According to the teaching of the surfing class, exhibited seriousness is not a productive attitude in our infantile environment, where everything has to be wrapped playfully in order to pay off. Therefore, EUROPE can't be a chaotic model, but might be an INTERACTIVE GAME. Needless to mention this in the post-Gulf era: all games converge into war games. Their structure depends on what is the significance of the war parameter in the user's psychology. A user-friendly war is a war that rewards the skilled warrior in an obvious way. Skill is something connecting the neurons to the muscles, in the same way that the mouse (the joystick) is connecting the software to the screen. Skill cannot be internal or even remote, without developing into a frustration. Skill has to be exhibited tri-dimensionally. Through skill, physical effort survives in the computer game era as the ultimate approach to entertainment. While territoriality remains (still) the maximum war-game reward, it is obsolete in the post-industrial real-war protocols.


Design and production:
Software: Aadjan van der Helm, Neil de Hoog, Jan-Wijbrand Kolman, Bram Meijboom.
Hardware: Peter de Jong.
Interaction: Paul Boots.
3D: Meik van der Noordt, Constantin Stürmer, Lenno Verhoog, Merel van der Weij, Carola Zee.
2D: Schachaf Dekel, Arjan Groot, Janine Huizenga, Menno van de Laarschot, Rogier Meijerink, William Pompen, Fred Sophie, Merel van der Weij.
Sound: Boris Debackere.
Graffiti: Koen van de Crommert, Daan Drubbel, Thomas van Vroenhoven
Production Management: Anne Nigten.
Produced in co-operation with Ars Electronica Center, Linz (A).

© 1998 / V2_

Document Actions
Document Actions
Personal tools
Log in