Simulation as Institutional Critique: Lawrence Lek's 'Unreal Estate'



Lawrence Lek, Unreal Estate (the Royal Academy is yours) (2015; video game still)

Wealth is monolithic: it refutes argument, pointed criticism, direct gaze. The architecture of today’s wealth is monolithic, as well: a crucial expression of modern oligarchies’ centralized power. Where the estate once served as a neat symbol of riches, our edifices are more diverse and inventive. They are built heavy and tall, as rebuff. They have to symbolize abstract figures, tens of billions of dollars on paper.

Artist Lawrence Lek offers us entry into the monolith in his work Unreal Estate. In it, we, the viewers, are the new billionaire owner of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.


Kentucky Route Zero: Adventuring into Appalachian Limbo


Still image from Cardboard Computer (Tamas Kemenczy and Jake Elliott), Kentucky Route Zero (video game). Act I, Scene I: Equus Oils.

"I've got a delivery on Dogwood Drive, but I'd rather watch the sunset." –Conway, Act I, Scene I

Kentucky Route Zero, created by indie developer Cardboard Computer (Tamas Kemenczy and Jake Elliott) is, so far, a well-polished crystal that shimmers out of the otherwise looming darkness of the video game industry.