Mario's Furniture Version 2
When you enter Telic Arts Exchange over the next six weeks, you’ll be entering a video game. The black box of the gallery space has been transformed into Mario’s Furniture, a game world created by Los Angeles–based artists S.E. Barnet and Hillary Mushkin and inspired by the Super Mario Bros. video games. Here’s how it works: Two players quickly arrange two sets of furniture — one life-size (and heavy!) and the other in miniature. The action is recorded by a single video camera, and the players use the live video feed, which is projected above them on a wall, as a reference, trying to find a cozy balance among the chairs, lamps, tables and couch. Each furniture item is worth a certain number of points, and your goal is to achieve a high score; points are tallied when a player sits down on the couch, marking the end of the game. Mario’s Furniture is amusing in reversing traditional video-gaming dynamics; gamers can’t kick back on the couch and lazily manipulate characters, but instead become the characters and run around doing all the work. More than that, the piece prompts an interesting feeling of dislocation as you look to the screen for help arranging all the elements. You are both in the physical space of the game and in the virtual space of the video image, and this momentary suspension between the two places creates a very pleasurable, giddy sense of existential vertigo. Telic Arts Exchange, 975 Chung King Road; Oct. 28-Dec. 2. (213) 344-6137.
— Holly Willis
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