Media Myth & Mania

Text from Martin Rieser’s website, when Ship of Fools was me, Martin Rieser, Jon Dovey & Terryl Bacon. We were  joined by Liz Milner on later projects.

“1994 Media Myth and Mania by Ship of Fools -part of the Arcade section of ”From Silver to Silicon” The latter piece has been shown at many venues around the world: ‘Silver to Silicon’ CD ROM publication, exhibited Watershed Gallery (Bristol), Focal Point Gallery (Southend), Millia (Cannes), and at conferences at the Universities of Middlesex and Westminster including Milia in Cannes; Paris; ICA and the Photographer’s Gallery, London and at ISEA Montreal.

An interactive spoof game, using digital sound and photographic sequencing, examining issues of power and control of the mass media through a multi-choice biographical journey through the life of a media “Mogul”. The individual player makes moral choices at various life stages and views the consequences in dramatised photo-romance style tableaux. Photo-realistic image based adventure games are a growing section of the computer games market and are likely to spearhead the penetration of interactive CD into the domestic environment. This game is an attempt to subvert this process by de-mystifying the use of representation within the genre, through both form and content. Whilst providing a pleasure-driven activity within the overall concept, themes related to the role of public media and their relation to the domestic sphere are also questioned via hidden quotes and juxtapositions.

Photo-romantic magazines and adult comics provide the inspiration for the visual ‘feel’ of the piece. Actors are posed for various life situations and placed digitally against computer -generated photomontage backgrounds. In a sense this updates the Citizen Kane idea of rooting the public figure in the personal depths of childhood. Biographical parallels to the lives of such contemporary ”Moguls” as Maxwell and Murdoch are explored. In consequence the piece is structured as a dual branching choice “seven ages of man or woman” interactive biographical narrative, with the player assuming the role of the either male or female “Mogul”. The player chooses between two action options at each level. There are more than 80 Interactive tableaux images in the whole game, plus accompanying sound, text and QuickTime movies. A mythic parallel universe of neoclassic futility interweaves the narrative at various keypoints as a metaphor for the ultimate emptiness of the scramble for media control.”

Choice: you are a student, need cash to top-up your grant. Do you or don’t you take a job in a massage parlour?