shawné michaelain holloway, Evan Ifekoya, and sidony o’neal come together around shared practices of engaging multi-dimensional space through the prisms of blackness and black queerness, and in the process they (re)imagine, (re)theorize, and (re)construct how modes of sensing, feeling, and being are disciplined by the environments we move through. For Architextures of Black Queer Practice they read June Jordan’s writing on and architectural plans for “Skyrise For Harlem,” a redesign of the violent sharpness of public housing into conical structures whose openness would generate more livable sites of communication, rest, and play for black people. Esquire, however, published the piece in 1965, under the title “Instant Slum Clearance,” as a utopian idea that they wholly attributed to her collaborator and friend Buckminster Fuller. In new writing (and a new video game) created for ARTS.BLACK, holloway, Ifekoya, and o’neal carry Jordan’s work forward as co-thinkers dedicated to the task of not only conceiving of but physically constructing environments wherein the queer and feminist doing of black life and black study might be governed in more ethical and humane ways
— Kemi Adeyemi, Guest Editor
005_POWER.TRANSFORM=ROTATE(180DEG).EXE, the game, is the fifth issue of THE CHAMBER SERIES COMPANION and the tenth installment of THE CHAMBER SERIES, a hybrid publishing and performance project that tells the story of a half-human, half-wolf named X3 who is held captive in a science lab testing facility. Through a series of interactive “scores,” or maps, viewers engage with the narrative via a set of small actions that they must perform in order to access it in its entirety. The demand on an audience to submit to its strict viewing instructions turn THE CHAMBER SERIES into an armature that only offers itself at a price: the work submits to you as soon as you submit to it, often asking viewers to interrogate their own experience of the abuse of power, control, and fantasy in tandem with the unfolding dystopian narrative.
How to run 005_POWER.TRANSFORM=ROTATE(180deg)[DOT]EXE :
Right click and select “Save As” to download the file. When the download is complete, right click and select “Open” to run the game. You will receive a pop up confirming you’d like to run a program from an unknown developer. Click to confirm that you want to run the game. ”
The game builds upon the previous installment of THE CHAMBER SERIES, #004ACCOMPANIMENT-004_TRAINING-PLAN-AND-CODE-NOTES, a set of architectural plans exhibited at 205 Hudson Gallery (New York) in the exhibition Refiguring the Future. In front of the plinth measuring fourteen inches off of the ground, a vinyl print of the word “KNEEL” was applied to the floor. Too low to bend over to read, too high to sit down and turn the pages, the dimensions forced the reader to hold an uncomfortable position for the duration of their interaction. This position put a strain on their knees, arms, and back, reflecting a resting pose that, in previous editions, the protagonist was instructed always to assume in the presence of her Master.
005_POWER.TRANSFORM=ROTATE(180DEG).EXE, the game explores the perspective of the Master, and is the first installment of THE CHAMBER SERIES to do so. It implies that a Master, too, can have someone or something presiding over them, even as they project the illusion of absolute power to their subjects. Thus, the role of the dictator can quickly transform into a sad spectre of middle-management and into no more than that of an indentured Keeper who merely repetitively submits to a mirror structure of their captive’s servitude.
In #004ACCOMPANIMENT-004_TRAINING-PLAN-AND-CODE-NOTES we learn the Master figure visits X3 in her cell every day. 005_POWER.TRANSFORM=ROTATE(180DEG).EXE, the game invites viewers along in the Master’s routine walking trajectory toward X3’s cage.
The game’s four parts—“To start, knowing”; ”To continue, carrying”; “To decide, believing”; “To arrive, exhausted”—are meant to expose a recursive structure of two-ness through a discussion about the exhaustion that is induced by unquestioned platforms, routines, and directives inherent in occupying a position of power. By using the WASD key group to guide the character through the game’s single level, viewers-turned-users-turned-players are in control of the seeing and hearing perspective of X3’s Master character. Players have the choice to stop and listen to the character’s monologues, to run through the level, or diverge from the obvious path and see what questions await them in the areas underneath the game’s built structure. Engaging with THE CHAMBER SERIES’s virtual space presents an opportunity to experience a double consciousness: within a ouroboros of dynamic realities and identities, the fact of the videogame medium is used to ask what paths can be created for us, to question who the creators of those paths are and what happens when we diverge.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
shawné michaelain holloway is a new media artist using sound, video, and performance to shape the rhetorics of technology and sexuality into tools for exposing structures of power. She has spoken and exhibited work internationally in spaces like The New Museum (NYC, NY), Sorbus Galleria (Helsinki, Fi), The Kitchen (NYC, NY) Institute of Contemporary Arts (London, UK), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL). Currently, Holloway teaches in the New Arts Journalism department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.