September [08:46]

(Copied from a post I made from Facebook.)

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Sometimes I sit on the floor of my photography studio to work rather than anywhere more conventional like a desk with a chair, or the sofa. I don’t know why I like the floor in here so much. Maybe it’s because I’ve drunk wine, a rarity for me at home, and therefore it feels safer down here.

I’m contemplating the case studies I might use in my Masters thesis, to support my argument that videogames are works of art, when I find a book on the floor under the table in here. It’s not supposed to be here – only photography books go in this room. It’s meant to be downstairs in the study with my art books.

It’s called ‘September’ and is an essay on Gerhard Richter’s painting of the same name – attached below to this post. It’s a small work, about 50x70cm. Indeed about the size of a television… or a computer monitor.

Can you see it? If you let your eyes relax like a magic eye picture. Can you make out the image of the World Trade Centre?

I’ve never seen the original of this painting with it’s thick layers of paint applied and then scraped back – I’ve only ever seen one of the edition of 40 prints. They are printed on vinyl, enlarged slightly, and shown between two pieces of glass, only increasing the temptation to compare it to a computer monitor. Or a TV screen.

The book argues that paintings can be a way to engage with complicated events in our world today. That they can shape and mould our understanding of the world. That they can help us come to terms with world-shattering events.

There is a game called [08:46]. I say a game, it’s a ‘serious game’, technically, if you want to use the lingo of the industry. It uses Oculus Rift technology to allow you to explore what happened at 0846 that dreadful day in September 2001.

I was at school. Everyone can remember what they were doing that day. I was at school, and I found out about it in the parquet floored entrance hall, next to the big glass wall of windows that looked out over the playground. At home, after school, I watched the news with my grandmother. I even remember my sullen response – I had grown up near London with the ever-present threat of my father being blown up at work by the IRA. Terrorism was ingrained in the fabric of my life even at the age of 16.

I should ‘play’ [08:46] to see if it brings the same kind of visceral experience and understanding that being stood in front of the Richter painting does. The Richter gave me that strong feeling as if I’d been punched in the gut. The layers and layers of paint, the streaks, the colour, the vinyl and the glass, it was like being there in front of the TV again. Watching the news. While people burned.