Artspace is pleased to present Offduty (Version 3), a three-channel video installation by new media artist Justin Berry, viewable 24-hours a day through our Crown Street Window exhibition space from October 7 to November 10, 2016.
Berry’s installation proposes the video game as a site for non-competition, aesthetic wanderlust and contemplation. Two high-definition monitors display magnificent skies that transition from day to night. While the videos appear to be documentary footage, the recordings are revealed as vistas from the fictional landscape of Skyrim, a video game developed by Tod Howard in 2011. Upon its release, Skyrim received rave reviews for its “open world” format, which allows players the freedom to travel anywhere at any time and to ignore the main quest indefinitely, gaining points even for sensitive activities, such as picking flowers.
The only action a player is not allowed to do is stop playing—this is the moment Berry’s work kicks in. After two minutes of stillness or, in this case, sky-gazing, the game rejects the player, pulling the camera’s gaze away from the landscape and pointing it back at the player’s avatar. Berry re-constitutes the moments where the player ceased to play and decided to simply be still, stitching together those stretches of sky-gazing into a 24-hour showcase. The videos are timed so that noon on one screen meets midnight on the other.
Offduty recognizes a great paradox of the virtual world—players who enter these supremely creative tapestries feel real emotions, create formative memories that are not compartmentalized and try on new bodies and personas. These worlds are legitimate sites for meeting the other, coming of age, making decisions and passing time. The game too behaves and develops an intimate and responsive role with its player. In the face of this existential dilemma, where the real world and the digital blend into one, Berry searches for the space where the game shows itself, asserts its power, and reveals its physical limits.
Justin Berry is a new media artist and curator who lives and works in New Haven, CT and Brooklyn, NY. He is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA artist’s fellowship and holds an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago. Berry’s work has been exhibited around the world, most recently at CAVE in Detroit, CUAC in Salt Lake City, and at the University of Richmond Art Museum. His work has been featured in Frieze, Pin-up magazine, Media-N, Prattfolio and Bomb Magazine. Currently, he is a member of the gallery collective Essex Flowers and is a critic at the Yale School of Art. From 2007 to 2008 he was co-director of the artist run curatorial space Alogon, in Chicago, IL.