Can You See Me Now?

Can You See Me Now? (2001)

Game, interactive installation

Blast Theory

Project Link

Can You See Me Now? by UK artist collective Blast Theory is an  interactive multi-player game that utilizes mobile GPS technology so the game can take place over two planes: one in reality, and one online.  It was first played in Sheffield in 2001, and has traveled to various cities across Europe and the United States through 2010, including Chicago, Barcelona and Amsterdam.  The game has two maps: one in the physical city itself, and online interface version of that same map.  Participants play either online or live, in the actual city as “runners.” The goal is for the “runners” in real life to catch the online players as they explore the virtual city. Runners use handheld computers to see the map and where online players are located virtually in the city. Online players can see runners’ positions on the map due to the GPS tracking on their mobile device or handheld computers. Can You See Me Now? has also been exhibited as an interactive installation version in which viewers see a recorded feed of a live game, follow players of their choosing, and see how it plays out.  Essentially, this piece utilizes locative media to exaggerate and explicate the interplay of physical and virtual dimensions in our lives.  Participation is an crucial element as well, which borrows from Situationist concepts regarding “spatial concerns and reappropriating the city for its inhabitants,” as well. The players become “active participants rather than passive spectators of their own lives” (McGarigle). Because of the duality of the digital and physical game maps, the player’s becomes conscious of their movement and participation in a digital space as well as just the physical.  The game also becomes an exploration of perception of time, as  runners start the game being asked to “think of the name of someone you haven’t seen in a long time”, and then shout that name when they have caught an online player.  They then record the spot where “caught” someone and upload it online.  Though the spot is empty in real life, it becomes associated with that player’s presence online.

Follow the curatorial statement on the next piece here.

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