Tuesday, January 10, 2012

After Us The Savage God (Race Against Time iPhone App from Tate Modern)

The user plays as a wily chameleon, travelling through the history of modern art in order to defeat evil Dr Greyscale’s plan to remove all the colour from the world.


"Tate Modern announced an innovative free iPhone game Race Against Time that blends mobile gaming with art history.

    The user plays as a wily chameleon, travelling through the history of modern art in order to defeat evil Dr Greyscale’s plan to remove all the colour from the world. As the gamer races through time from 1890 back to the present day, the background, platforms and enemies change to reflect major art movements and works from the last 121 years of modern art. A bespoke soundtrack for the game provides an audio journey through the time period – each decade has a stylistic variant of the main theme and uses instruments appropriate to the era.

    Along with Race Against Time, Tate is releasing a new version of its free award-winning mobile game, Tate Trumps, the digital card game that brings Tate’s collection to life. Choose one of the three modes (Battle, Mood or Collector), pick 7 artworks to make up your hand, then play a fast paced round of trumps against the computer or your friends, and see who scores the highest. In this new version, produced by Hide&Seek, the game can now be played anywhere, not just at Tate Modern. Both Race Against Time and Tate Trumps are supported by Bloomberg as part of a programme of digital content about art that includes Tate Modern’s multimedia guides and Interactive Zone, and the weekly video podcast TateShots.

    Jane Burton, Head of Content and Creative Director, Tate, says: “Our aim is to bring art to new audiences who are interested in a more playful experience than cultural institutions typically offer. With stunning graphics, addictive gameplay and stylish soundtrack we think Race Against Time will do just that.”

    Jez Nelson, Chief Executive Officer, Somethin’ Else, adds: “Somethin’ Else has produced another cutting-edge project which further cements our commitment to creativity. Race Against Time is a ground-breaking way of incorporating art and gaming – where the art is as important as the game. No art knowledge is required, as the game aims to informally inspire and educate users simply by playing through the beautiful artscapes. We are delighted that Tate loved the idea as much as we did.” 


When I first encountered this article about the Tate Modern’s latest foray into the multi-media junk world, I was so stunned and offended by its vulgarity and uselessness that I thought it was probably pointless (for me) and unnecessarily unpleasant (for anyone kind enough to be interested in visiting here) to post anything about it.  

    I mean, people seem to love this sort of garbage and I can’t do anything about it except to try to ignore it and stay away from it in my own life.  I suppose Race Against Time and Tate Trumps are simply new editions of the same “lifelines to relevance” that museums have been throwing out to the public for ages.  


Originally, these sorts of projects were mainly confined to “children’s museum" wings of the great art institutions and, as such, they were unobjectionable, and possibly actually valuable teaching tools.  

     Then, these museums started systematically treating adults as children, adopting (for the single purpose of revenue raising) contemporary  “productize”/“monetize”/"gull the Club" philosophy.   

   We are a tragically long way from Ananda K. Coomaraswamy's actuating maxim that "the function of Art is to imitate nature in her manner of operation." 

   I’ve always loved that couplet in Visions of Johanna that goes: 

Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial; 
Voices echo this is what Salvation must be like after a while.”

      Adapting a well-known cliché:  We get the cultural institutions we deserve 

  For me this stuff is more toxic than Grand Theft Auto and its kindred "shooter games," which are actually more honest about and purer in their intentions than Race Against Time and Tate Trumps.



Ólafur Elíasson's Weather Project in Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, London.  After Us The Savage God.

Sir John Everett Millais, Hearts Are Trumps (detail), 1872, The Tate, London


Themes In Counterpoint:

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