8-Bit Melancholia

Video installation

Glitched Nintendo games, broken NES consoles and controllers in resin suspension

2020

8-Bit Melancholia is a site-specific installation that explores the relationship among nostalgia and technology of the recent past. Here, glitch, refuse game systems, and projection mapping are used to question the ways obsolete media technologies produce an affective longing for childhood play. Broken Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) consoles and controllers are suspended in clear resin, diced into cubes, and subsequently rearranged into sculptural objects to produce a physical, pixilation effect. Within the gallery, a projector maps abstract patterns onto select “pixels” so that these sculptures appear as three-dimensional, rendered images that are in constant mutation and flux. By fragmenting these game systems, 8-Bit Melancholia rethinks glitch and error as a sculptural technique intended to defamiliarize our nostalgia and desire to play with the video games of our youth. These modes of interaction aim to elicit a melancholic longing for childhood games through the familiarity of retro game systems, yet simultaneously produce uncanny sensations by “glitching out” these systems—pixelating their material parts—in novel and unexpected ways. More so, the arrangement of the sculptures within the gallery draws a resemblance to ancient cairns: arranged stone piles that serve as burial markers and objects of remembrance. Similarly, these pixelated cairns consider the liminal spaces between a desire to revisit memories through a video game system and new modes of sensual experience from engaging the body with its refuse parts.

Exhibited at:

University of Wisconsin Student Union Galleries, Madison, WI,February-March 2019.