Jordan Speer, Cautious V, 2014, video game still
September 4 – 27, 2014
Institute 193, Lexington
Giant desert slugs, endangered scorpions, burning tires, convenience stores, and a high school football team inexplicably trapped in a slime-filled sewer system populate Jordan Speer’s most recent work, a post-apocalyptic video game titled Cautious V. Visually, the game is reminiscent of an older generation of games and could be mistaken for one, if not for lack of a defined goal or reward. There are no princesses hiding in castles or dangerous enemies to kill; there is only the landscape to navigate. There are, of course, plenty of things to kill in the game, but it will not help you get to the next level, and there is no reward. You might even be verbally chastised for your murderous ways.
Speer’s existential environment is presented in an arcade machine, a device that long ago entered into the realm of novelty and nostalgia. This format gives the game a physicality that modern games no longer possess and invites “over the shoulder” viewing, common to arcades all over the world in prior decades. Cautious V asks the player to publicly maneuver a small red-cloaked character with big eyes and alien blue hands through Speer’s digitally engineered world with only a vague promise of an ultimately inaccessible “outside world” as guide. Not unlike the rules of our own mortal existence, Speer’s game posits that experience is the only reward for playing.
Play Cautious V here.