• Issue
  • Mar 04, 2021

Shanghai: Ming Contemporary Art Museum

“Player of Beings,” at the Ming Contemporary Art Museum, took as its subject the history of the video game, artists who use the aesthetics of video games, or gaming as a platform for social commentary. It was an exhibition which, in lieu of examining one of these areas of inquiry with depth, touched lightly on all three.

Upon entering the exhibition one found vitrines containing a chronological display of video game consoles, some of them replicas. Subsequent spaces were replete with an array of popular arcade machines, which visitors could operate using tokens handed out upon entry, along with playable console and PC games. For enthusiasts, such a collection sets an expectation of a historical overview of critical technological and aesthetic developments in video game production, with details about, say, the key companies and designers. Yet the display was bereft of any information beyond titles and dates, leaving visitors wondering as to the significance of the exhibits to the gaming industry, and the curatorial logic behind their inclusion beyond personal preference.