Background Check

With Brody Condon's second solo show, titled Three Modifications, opening at Virgil de Voldere Gallery in New York City this week, l thought I'd take the opportunity to do a little Rhizome-based background research. Condon, an early practitioner in the 'game art' genre, gained much recognition through his work with the collective c-level and his often cited piece 'Adam Killer.' Subverting expectations of the first person shooter game 'Half Life,' Condon inserted and then killed (over and over) an avatar of his friend Adam--to gruesome yet beautifully kaleidoscopic effect. 'Adam Killer' is an important example of this type of game hack and also happens to be part of Rhizome's ArtBase (and the subject of numerous discussion threads on Rhizome, including a great interview with Jonah Brucker-Cohen). For the new work in Three Modifications, Condon exploits his game engine tinkering to more aesthetic ends. Formally comparing the visual similarities between the realistic yet highly stylized look of contemporary 3-D video games with those of 15th Century Flemish painting, Condon raises issues of representation, iconography, and multi-dimensionality. And as always, through his use of the game engine and his "self playing" games, he frustrates our desire for interaction, forcing us instead to participate through meditation, as opposed to physical action.