Hallucinations and the Virtual World: An Artists Story of Passion, Focus and Sheer Determination

It is easy to criticize full time gamers. Nerds, low lives, ragers, sociophobes, you name it, but what is it actually like to be a full time ‘gamer’? What is it to sit at a computer screen day in and day out, peeing in bottles, living on prepackaged food, losing track of when you last slept and not caring enough to try and remember? For Australian artist Justin Cooper, it can be described as no less than inspiring.

For eighteen months he endured the life of a full time gamer. This meant playing each game in separate 24 hour blocks and using the state of surreal, hallucinatory exhaustion to create art with water colour, gouache and ink pen.  He describes the experience as a nightmarish habbit. A habbit where you eat, breath, sleep and dream for the abstract world of shapes, colours, violence and mayhem inside the flat screen. All aspects of your life begin to relate back to the game, you start seeing everyday things as they would appear mathematically in the psychedelic world of archaic constructions and sharp terrain. It becomes so captivating that you begin to take on an fictitious existence of your own, living and breathing for your undying allegiance to the game.

“I would dream about strange landscapes and mutated animals when drifting off to sleep or see images of falling specks of colour at the edges of my visual field or when I closed my eyes.”

For some this seems absurd, why would anyone do that to themselves voluntarily? But if you look at it that way, everything can be potentially damaging, why do anything at all? To put it simply, it’s experiential. Inspired by the story of a Korean boy who refused to eat, drink or go to the bathroom for the fear of leaving the game and consequently dying, Justin decided he wanted to know how something as simple as a game could have that effect on someone. For an artist to put himself on the line like that, not knowing how it would change his life or what the consequences would be, it’ shows tremendous will power and passion for his work. The result? The Gaming Effect is an exhibition showcasing talent, passion, drive and leaves you with a feeling of pure astonishment. It is an exhibition like no other.

*The Gaming Effect is currently being exhibited at A-M Gallery, Newtown until the 4th of August.

*For more information on Justin cooper head to:
Blog        – http://justincooper.blogspot.com.au/
Website – http://www.justincooperartist.com

*Mentioned in the show was White Rabbit Gallery‘s current exhibition Down The Rabbit Hole.

*Also mentioned was the third annual Jazz In Continuum Concert, Sunday the 22nd of July, 2pm at the Paddington RSL.

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