Thursday, 15 August 2013

The battle for David Blandy's soul

David Blandy is an interesting artist, especially when you consider him within the canon of what can be very obtuse and exclusive contemporary art. Blandy is comfortable in his obsessions and unashamed, but equally inquisitive, trying to find his identity in a world where we are incresingly pigeon holed and targeted by what we profess to like to Facebook and Tumblr and such. (On a personal note, it has always disturbed me the way Facebook says my "profile is only 30% complete". Its like I don't become a complete person until I relay to the world what my favourite books and albums are.)

Blandy's latest show as the aspex gallery in Portsmouth, "Background", centers on his family relationships, but through the media of 16-bit conversations with his father, an anime about the guilt of his grandfathers life continuing but only due the the death of 110,000 people in the nuclear bomb in Nagasaki, and there for his own life continuing, and also the battle for his soul in the arcade game Duel and Dualities.

Yes, Duel and Dualities is a working arcade video game. You get to play through as the various versions of him that have existed in his art work; The Barefoot Lone Pilgrim, Orochi Pilgrim, The White and Black Minstrel, The Child of the Atom, and David Blandy himself. Me and Richee played through it a few times and, well, it is a rather simplistic fighting game in the style of Street Fighter, but it is one of the most original ways of exploring identity that I've seen in an art piece in a long while. You start to get fustrated when you realise that the David Blandy character is rubbish, with simple weak fist punches, especially when you put him up against The White and Black Minstrel and The Child of The Atom, with their respective wheels of fire and shuddering bolts of pure nuclear energy. It was fun to play though. Its always nice to actually get involved in the art sometimes. Richee, however, didn't quite understand why the characters all had to be of varying strength (if you get Child of the Atom, you just obliterate your opponent), as it makes the game unfair. This is where you stop viewing it as an enjoyable game and more a piece of self expression. As its called Duel and Dualities - Battle for the Soul, this is David Blandy fighting out over all his different personalities he's portrayed, the willingness to give these characters centre stage, and also the guilt of being alive (in reference to the Child of the Atom character), which may explain why this character is so powerful and destructive.

Even you claim to not like art (???) I urge you to go see this show if you can. It's interesting to see the logical conclusion of all this personalised game play that you get nowadays in gaming.

The show is on to the 25th August in the aspex gallery in Gunwarph Quays, Portsmouth. Aspex is a fantastic gallery so go support it. If you are unable to see the show, some videos of Blandy's art are available to watch on his website and here.


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