Arts Picks: Video game installation at SAM, Jeremy Tiang on translation, local plein air paintings

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Hito Steyerl: Factory Of The Sun

At Gallery 2 of the Singapore Art Museum at Tanjong Pagar Distripark is this landmark work Factory Of The Sun by acclaimed German video artist and film-maker Hito Steyerl, which immerses visitors in a not-so-alternate reality where people are forced to dance to produce light.

First presented at the Venice Biennale in 2015, the 20-minute video is a dark satire of how the virtual has bled into the real world in the digital age.

It takes to extremes the fact that every movement, whether glancing at a phone screen that triggers advertising algorithms or an online purchase, can be and has been harnessed for corporate profit.

The multilingual sequence contains documentary footage and made-up news coverage inserted seamlessly into a surreal video game.

Visitors are invited to draw up a deck chair in the luminous matrix of the gallery, and challenged to try to tell the real and the simulated apart.

For instance, is the player who is shot by a drone part of gameplay or an event that has prompted demonstrations in the real world? What are the Singapore riots of 2018? And is participation in the game voluntary?

In this work, Steyerl is inspired by her studio assistant’s brother, whose viral homemade YouTube dance videos were used as a model for Japanese anime characters.

It becomes obvious that what started out as a fun hobby has become stifling. The dancer is covered head to toe in latex, and play becomes breathless work in a motion-capture studio.

As the surtitles remind viewers: You do not play the game, the game plays you.

Where: Gallery 2, Singapore Art Museum at Tanjong Pagar Distripark, 01-02 Tanjong Pagar Distripark, 39 Keppel RoadMRT: Tanjong PagarWhen: Till Sept 24, 10am to 7pmAdmission: Free

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