Games are art at the Mori Art Museum



Overlooking Tokyo, fifty-three stories in the sky, is the Mori Art Museum hovers. A couple days ago they opened up a new contemporary art exhibit called Roppongi Crossing 2007: Future Beats in Japanese Contemporary Art. Some of the pieces are exceptional if you’re a sucker for modern art like me and (surprise!) two of them are related to video games. While walking through the layered art pieces I heard the familiar Nintendo coin sound radiating from my right. I hopped over to see a mix of Pong, drums and psychedelic visuals projected on the floor. Mizuguchi would be proud.


This wasn’t a passive piece of art. People were encouraged to “play” with it. I sat down on the left set of drums and the other player grabbed the right set. Hitting the drum made the paddle move up and stomping on the foot pedal made it move down. The game started out with a single ball. While it bounced back and forth, both players made a cacophony of noise not often found in museums. After the score was up 9-2, in my favor, the game threw two balls, then three. Each of these balls made the colorful background explode into the confetti-like photo seen above as they blazed from one side of the floor to the next. Once, I thought I got the hang of it the game threw me a curveball. It didn’t respond to the controls. Hitting the foot pedal made it move forward instead of down. When this happened I rapidly jammed on it and eventually the paddle moved in the direction I wanted it to. I noticed the same thing was happening to the other player too and all of the sudden we were making music… not good music… but there was a beat because pong has its own rhythm. We alternated playing solo” to move our paddles and the two separate melodies complimented each other during the frantic multiball moments.


Next to it was “Laxical Shooter” created by Ito Gabin, which was played with an Xbox 360 controller. You use the analog stick to run, ABXY buttons to fire tiny pellets and the two bumper buttons to run. The game isn’t in 3D, it’s more like a Mode 7 SNES game or a stretched out version of 3D Worldrunner. When you walk the world stretches towards you. Even though you can rapidly fire a gun, there isn't much to shoot. Laxical shooter is more about exploring the level than gunning down zombies.


These two neat exhibits compliment a bunch of other brilliant pieces like Arithmetic Forest where you don a number and walk through a set of sensors to make your number equal 73.

Siliconera Staff
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