Other Names for Famous Sculptures #3

The third of this strange series of renaming famous works (sculptures or otherwise) in this recurring fit of grad student sleep deprivation is one I want to talk about for a hot second. 

I am often struck by the similarities we see in modern art and game design: different mediums used to explore the same themes, though some might consider the two wildly disparate. The Japanese postwar art collective The Gutai Group, founded in 1954, did a lot of crazy radical stuff. Among that crazy radical stuff is the above piece, Passage, as performed by Saburo Murakami breaking his way through a series of paper screens. The collective's emphasis on the work of art as process rather than finished product is expertly shown in this photograph of the work by Kiyoji Otsuji -- Murakami smack in the middle, between the screens he has already broken through and the screens he has yet to encounter, a not-quite-grimace, not-quite-smile on his face, and his body in flurried motion. We are confronted with the notion of the self-inflicted violence that can occur in the simple act of moving forward, the irreparable damage we have the capacity to do to ourselves and the world. There is simply no turning back. 

Jason Rohrer's work of the same name, Passage (2007), could very well share an artists' statement alongside title with the Gutai Group. 

Rohrer's work, a five-minute, free-to-play game has fairly simple win condition: move forward until you can't move forward anymore. Using the arrow keys, you move your character in classic side-scrolling style across the landscape, and as you move, your avatar meets a partner who joins them on their journey. They walk together, accumulating points, backdropped by an unsettling chiptune, age, and then die. 

In their simplicity, both works showcase what it can mean to move forward, and what little choice we have in the matter. For Murakami and the player in Passage both, the choice is either to go forward or to remain still and stagnate. And really, either means death. It just depends on how they choose to go about it.