Shing Yin Khor is an installation artist and sculptor from Malacca, Malaysia, now settled in LA. Their installations, many of them verging on or outright performance art, have been understandably impacted by the current state of the world. Museums all across the United States have shuttered their doors for the duration. Like the rest of us, they’re stuck at home, playing video games.
Or rather, playing with video games.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons which came out just in time for the whole country to be stuck inside is Khor’s chosen medium to play with the nature of the art world.
“I’m pretty sure I’m just using Animal Crossing as a space to goof off right now but the art world also has a lot of tree branches up their collective butts, so I am enjoying responding to and poking fun at it within this little game,” said Khor in an email interview with Polygon.
They used the game’s simple elements to replicate famous art installations. A scattering of stones on a beach is Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. The game includes umbrellas too; perfect for recreating Christo and Jeanne Claude’s The Umbrellas even if Khor doesn’t have six miles of terrain and a crane to build it. They put together a little tribute to Barbara Kruger’s Untitled, but with turnips.
Then they stepped things up. On Tuesday, March 31st, Khor opened their little digital island to the internet by posting an access code, called a Dodo Code, to their twitter. For the event, they put their little avatar in a plain red dress, set up their in-game house as an empty room with a table and two facing chairs, and invited visiting players to recreate The Artist is Present, Marina Abramović’s 2010 performance piece in which she simply sat, gaze locked on whomever would sit opposite her, for eight hours a a day for three months. Khor’s rendition only lasted for an hour, but over a dozen people joined in the experience for that time, with more coming just to observe. They have plans next to recreate Urban Light, orignally by Chris Burden.