I was a human pixel

I had the chance some days ago to participate in this historical re-enactment of the computer game Pacman, first released 1980 in Japan. It is the fifth in a series of video-game reincarnations by Swiss artist-designer Guillaume Reymond (after Pong, Space Invaders, Tetris…), filmed in stop-motion animation and using human live actors in the place of pixels.

To tell the truth, I was never fascinated by video-games, and I cannot remember that I ever played Pacman… but I do appreciate the low-tech spirit of those videos. The key factor is the performative way in which Reymond is directing the actors, letting them decide collectively of the outcome of the game.

It was a fantastic experience to participate in this action, sitting for a few hours among many other colored pixels (teenagers, design students, geeks, undercover Disney and Google employees…) in the seats of a multiplex-cinema in Baden, and watching on the screen we were facing how the yellow Pacman was chasing the ghosts (or got eaten by them). Seen from this slowed-down perspective, the whole event had something of a 1970s happening: a set of strict semi-absurd “rules” that the actors were following, and which made sense only afterwards, when watching the sped-up footage.

The part I like the most is the “video noise” that occurs while the game loads: those images where taken during the last minutes of the shooting, with the instruction to sit “as randomly as possible” …

Watch the video:

Read more here about the background of Guillaume Reymond’s fantastic project: