article for the catalogue of documenta 11, 2001
Q4U: An Artist as a Quaker
based on Quake III Arena (Id Software, Inc., 1999), one of the most popular FPS (first person shot) game today, Q4U is my latest computer artwork. compare to my last digital movie Q3 (MiniDV wide screen, 32 min, 1999), which also based on the same video game, Q4U is quite simple: no more stories. no more dialogues. only gun fires. bloods. death.
Quake III Arena is a internet shot game. players all over the world connect to many servers, to find and play with each other. usually every master server can has hundreds or even thousand servers connected, each has five, eight or even fifty players play the game, day by night. this not including many players in LAN of internet coffee, game club, or at home along as Single Player mode. this game is going to be a serious sport match, professional gamer who usually sponsored by video game business travel the world for matches, the prize of tournament (one-on-one) is $100,000 (Babbage's CPL / Quake III, 2001).
Q4U is shown with three computers and three projections. the left and right are for the two local players, the middle is keep for the artist when he is in the space, or showing as a Separator when he is not there. all the three computers are connect to the internet, in fact one of them is a server, which logging to a master server, so players all over the world can find and play with these three computers. Q4U is completely wired.
this work seems very similar with the original game, except the character. the original has 32 computer-controlled gladiators (bot), they are cybronic human, reptiloid alien, gargoyle etc. Q4U has only one - a real human, that's myself, with naked torso, US army pants, and a MiniDV camcorder in my left hand. I setup the server to force all the players appear in my screen only use this model, the result: the artist are anywhere, fight and kill each other.
with the great animator Lu Yue's help, after hard works for months - 3D modeling, mapping, animation, programming, sound recording - finally one day I saw the character in my shape stood in the scene of the Arena, tried to give it first shot - it's dead. this was shocked.. but after 3 min I forgot if this is ME, just play as usually. there is only one rule: kill or be killed, in the mode FFA (free for all) - Frag Everything That Isn't You.
Q4U is not only a interactive, internet connected installation, but also a real time performance: when I am in the exhibition space, I play the game, the local audience can see the performance, the players connect to my server can see it too; when I am back to home, I can still player on my server remotely, the performance still going on, via internet. but audience in the exhibition space might never know who is the real artist, because all the characters appear in the same model - local players, internet players, bot, and the artist - except by the nickname, I will named FMB:Q4U. players all over the world won't see my model on their screen, except they download the model from the URL: http://wwww.nease.net/~mbgame/Q4U/download.html. I am very glad I may be the first artist can be d/l via internet!
the meaning.. is that too violent - better turn on the television. see the news. then you might think the virtual violent of Q4U is a GAME, a lucky happy ass-hole. a true story: when I was a young boy, my ideal is to be a PLA soldier but also a painter, so the best way is to be a military-painter:-) now I realize why I add a DV camcorder in the hand of my 3D model. this is a real time game, and almost a real world. as a line of Thin Red Line, if some bad happen, I want be there.