Aram Bartholl
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Proposal for the Rhizome Comission 2011-12
Aram Bartholl 2011


‘Dust’ is a 1:1 scale replica of one of the most played computer game maps in the world. The idea is to build the 3D model of ‘de_dust’ of the first person shooter game ‘Counter Strike’ as a permanent ‘building’ from concrete, making this map accessible as a large scale public sculpture.

Dimension: ca. 115 x 110 x 15 meter, Material: concrete

Computer games differ from other mediums such as books, movies or TV, in that spatial cognition is a crucial aspect in computer games. To win a game the player needs to know the 3D game space very very well. Spatial recognition and remembrance is an important part of our human capability and has formed over millions of years by evolution. A place, house or space inscribes itself in our spatial memory. We can talk about the qualities of the same movies we watched or books we have read. But millions of gamers experienced the same worlds in computer games. They all remember very well the spaces that they’ve spent a great deal of time in. Computer game architecture and game maps have become a new and yet undiscovered form of cultural heritage. How many people in the world have seen the real Time Square, the Kaaba in Mecca or the Tiananmen Square with their own eyes? Millions of players share the experience of the same computer games and 3D spaces they have ‘lived’ in for a significant amount of time in their lives. A computer game map like ‘de_dust’ appears to be more real than many other places in the world such as artificially constructed places like supermarkets, airports or cities like Dubai. Unlike current computer games (with their endless worlds and terrains), game spaces of the 1990’s were still limited in size due to graphic card and processor power limitations. A respectively small and simple map like ‘de_dust’ offered a high density of team play with repetitive endless variations.

Made from concrete in 1:1 scale, the map becomes an art piece and a museum for a game at the same time. Visitors are invited to take a walk in materialized virtuality and experience the loaded game space in the physical reality. In a level of abstraction all parts of the map will be made from concrete (no color or textures) and will represent a petrified moment of cultural game space heritage.

Aram Bartholl 2011

Today Dust is - according to the statistics - one of the most played maps in the world, and certainly racks up a remarkable amount of multi player time. Some say the reason for Dust’s success was its simplicity. Others say it’s due to how balanced it is. In reality, the two are closely linked - the simpler a map is, the easier it is to balance. In essence, it’s hard to make a simple map play badly.

From David Johnston’s ‘The Making Of: Dust’

Dust - Rhizome Comission

A Rhizome commission for this project would enable a profound first phase of research and communication for this large scale project. In cooperation with engineers and architects construction and bulding costs would estimated in detail. Different concepts for financial realization would be evaluated and communicated with interest groups, investors and collectors. Besides a high detailed portfolio including a theoretical context of game culture and architecture the Rhizome commission would result in a limited edition of models of the game map 'de_dust' scale 1:100 (115 x 110 x 15 cm). Made from different materials, machine produced and hand crafted the models would represent a first step in physical cultural heritage of the computer game age.

Timeline & Budget:

Planing and research:
Summer - Fall 2011
Communication and promotion :
Fall 2011 - Spring 2012
Production of a series of models: Fall 2011

Dust model series scale 1:100 and different techiques and materials
2500,- $
First planning phase incl. cost calculations and building plans for IRL 1:1 architecture of Dust 3000,- $
Total 5500,- $

4 work samples:

- WoW
- Chat
- de_dust
- Speed


Aram Bartholl has been working in Berlin since 1995. He studied architecture at the University of the Arts UdK Berlin and graduated there in 2001. His art work has been shown worldwide in festivals, galleries and musems such as Ars Electronica, Transmediale, TENT Netherlands, Eyebeam New York, Enemy Gallery Chicago, eARTS Shanghai, NIMK Netherlands Media Art Institute, KAdE Amersfoort, Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Skulpturenpark Berlin, Total Museum of Contemporary Art Seoul, FACT Liverpool, Microwave Hong Kong, Museum of Modern Art Weserburg Bremen,, LABORAL Spain and the MoMA New York among others. He received the 17th Video Award Bremen in 2008, the Browserday Award in 2001 and an honorable mention of the Transmediale Award in 2007. He was artist in residence at V2 Institute for unstable media in Rotterdam 2009 and resident at EYEBEAM, New York.

Aram Bartholl is a member of the web based ‘Free, Art & Technology Lab’ aka ‘F.A.T. Lab.’

In his art work Aram Bartholl thematizes the relationships between net data space and public every day life. “In which form does the network data world manifest itself in our everyday life? What returns from cyberspace into physical space? How do digital innovations influence our everyday actions?” Through his installations, workshops and performances Bartholl developed a unique way to discuss the impact of the digital era on society.

In his series of physical objects recreated from digital space and a series of light installations he questions the technology driven society and the tension of public on- and offline space. Workshops interventions and performances in public play a central role in his interest to create offline social platforms and situations to discuss day to day life in the era of Google, Facebook, Twitter and co.

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