Art, Summerhall, Run Ended
Patrick Miller and Patrick McNeil make up FAILE, an American urban installation and mural art duo. Their work centers on graphic street murals and installations that echo vintage comics. The piece ‘Deluxx Fluxx Arcade’, being shown at Summerhall, was originally created as a pop up show, made for Miami Beach Florida in 2013. Considering the content of bulky video arcade games under incandescent lighting, the relocation from Washington Street Miami with the “right amount of seediness” (Patrick McNeil), to Newington Edinburgh seems comically ironic and mismatched; the flashy machines hidden are away in the basement of Summerhall art space.
The ‘Deluxx Fluxx Arcade’ fuses chimes of pinball machines, bright strip lighting, and harsh techno music to create some kind of neon time machine. You are transported, not just as a spectator, but as if you were a virtual character; you become a real part of one of the vivid fluorescent games. The set-up definitely demonstrates what interactive art is about. Nothing is out of bounds, the piece is about the experience of being in the arcade, rather than being about an arcade.
Originally, in Miami Beach, the show was made as an extension of previous street art pieces. Born as a pop-up show, people traveled from all over the states for the opening. That audience was hit by the chance to catch it before it went, extending and enhancing the value of something temporary, which is something also reflected in street art; one day it’s there, the next it’s not. However, this sense of urgency and busyness that keeps the room and machines alive was hard to picture in the dark basement of the old vet school.
The games themselves seemed to play off popular culture reference points, what FAILE described as a reassessment of things that are ubiquitous to the point that we just accept them. Using this interactive medium allows us to play. The stereotypes of violent, destructive themes that we are familiar with from contemporary video games, were swapped with abstract, playful concepts, such as one game centered on being part of a band. You are superimposed onto a range of backdrops including The Beatles, and even Pussy Riot. This enhanced a sense of fun and story that you find in comics, although the low level lighting, during a quiet day, could also turn into something eerie and sinister.
What worked best for the exhibition was a neon wall papered room, focused around a table football with fluorescent orange and yellow players. The walls, ceiling and floor were covered with a patchwork of 80s punk style collage. Everyone lit up, literally: reflective spots form on your clothes and shoes. Once again, you are part of the game.