Copyright © 2021 Credit: A man (a Buddhist monk ?) sitting cross-legged wearing robes and beads and holding a bell. Photograph, 1910/1930. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Abraham Falcon | Video |
From May 2020
This pixel-art video game depicts, explores and publicises a current cultural and political issue ignored by mainstream media: the self-immolation protests by Tibetans in China against communist rule, which as of 2017 have caused 148 confirmed deaths. This ongoing conflict represents the continued, wide-spread repression, segregation and cultural destruction in ‘post- imperialist,’ ‘third-world’ countries. View this piece to personally struggle as a member of a marginalised group from a first-person perspective and make meaningful, emotional and autonomous choices.
Controls and Instructions
On mobile devices: Swipe in desired direction to move. Tap to proceed with dialogue.
On desktop: Directional arrow keys to move. Enter key to proceed with dialogue.
Traditional Tibetan Buddhist chant should be played throughout the viewing to provide an authentic auditory experience. For example, please play the following in the background: <https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=BIRJMESl4U8>. If the video at this link is unavailable, please Google a video or audio track of Tibetans chant background music.
If the viewer is physically able to do so, please sit uncomfortably cross-legged whilst viewing the piece to physically replicate the posture of the depicted player character. For example, please sit like the monk shown in the main image.
Interpretation (to be read after viewing)
The interaction with the piece through the viewer’s own mobile device or keyboard is intentionally made physically uncomfortable as movement of the player character is purposefully restricted to follow ritualistic patterns. The optional cross-legged viewing posture is a physical mimicry that adds further physical discomfort and is intended to allow the viewer to build a deeper, personal connection with the narrative through a physical exploration of another culture’s discomfort.
The interactivity of the piece extends beyond physical mimicry: the cultural exploration of the subject matter is also emotionally uncomfortable. Progression through the narrative involves meaningful, emotional and autonomous choices. After witnessing the real-world struggles of a marginalised cultural group through a first-person perspective and failing repeatedly at helping to defuse the situation, the viewer must choose whether or not to ultimately commit ritual suicide.
The display of the piece on the viewers’ own mobile devices or computer screens is intended to demonstrate how easily viewers could have accessed the emotionally difficult political content portrayed and the discomfort conveyed, which should be contrasted with how viewers either choose not to (as in the West, because of a general lack of mainstreaming reporting) or are unable to access (as in China, where government censorship prohibit access) such content.
The Artist chose to represent a traditional environment in a contemporary medium, digital interaction, which itself has faced difficulties with acceptance by the art world, to reflect the conflict between upholding tradition and pursuing modernity in relation to debates on diversity.
This piece also demonstrates the accessibility of game-making toolkits. They are super easy to use and everyone can use them. The Piece is intended to inspire viewers to create similar games to publicise and reveal other lesser-known ‘invisible’ issues around the world.