POWER GAMES Projects by Matthew Fagg and Paula Gortázar (6 – 23 February 2012)

Power Games is an exhibition of work that brings together two new photographic projects which reveal an aesthetic & cultural thread running through 1980’s design.

Fagg’s memorial documentary photographs of early 80’s game-playing technology show the machines in a space of lifeless homage. These obsolete consoles fascinated the warlike urges of children with legendary games of interplanetary battle. The users of these machines are now in their thirties or forties, their destructive childhood drives have hopefully matured, equipping them for our daily power struggles. Fagg’s images reveal a natural melancholia – sentiment for a time before adult responsibilities affected our social, political and corporate decisions. The aesthetic of these design objects hinted at a futuristic technological dystopia and represent the fantasies of a unique period in western culture, which appeared in the film, literature and product design of the period.

Gortazar’s inventory of the interior design of the European Parliament buildings, particularly the Espace Léopold (design led by Michel Boucquillon, 1988-9), reveals a design centred on the same visual reference points forming the backdrop of our multi-state governmental machine. Vorticist angles and acres of industrially produced materials appear as scaled up version of the gaming machines produced a few years before. In this building data is processed, national muscles flexed and armies controlled in the game of ideological and economic world domination, but the civilization which these systems serve has again moved on whilst the building itself stands still, awaiting the outcomes of some recent developments.

These projects present the remnants of a human will-to-power via the machines of an obsolete period in which humans refused to conceive of, whilst perpetually envisioning and acting out, the collapse of their civilization following massive attack. As the millennium progressed our focus shifted and the collapse, when now envisioned, is brought about by internal weakness rather than external aggression. Whilst the early computers fade into the past and reappear in a generational retro- revival, the Espace Léopold still functions. The perpetual challenge is how to upload a new version of the functionality on top of the old hardware. (Atari VCS 1980-2, Vectrex 1982-3, Espace Léopold 1988-93)

Special Performance Event: Friday 17th February 19:30 – 20:30 Sous La Surface – a special site-specific dance performance choreographed by Artémise Ploegaerts.

Admission Free. Opening times: Monday – Friday 9.00am – 5:30pm