The Golden Shot (revisited) by Simon Poulter (2006)

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The Golden Shot (revisited) by Simon Poulter employs the strategies of media, iconic and semantic transformation and the re-use of a form of mass entertainment from the history of television to establish a critical praxis of interactive media art. It creates a situation in which the original unease of observing and participating, repressed by the trivial splendour of the TV spectacle, returns subversively in an unexpected form. Here, taking pleasure in a banal and harmless game show is transformed into an ambivalent gesture, a cruel, symbolic demonstration, of the exercise of political power.

The on-line project The Golden Shot (revisited) is structurally based on the scenario, phenomenology and context of the reception of the popular TV show in the UK during the 60’s and 70’s. However its effects reach beyond that of a simple comment on different social, political, economic and technological conditions and implications of the ‘new’ and ‘old’ media systems of representation and communication. The viewers of the original live TV show gave instructions to a blindfolded cameraman who was supposed to hit the target with the help of ‘telebow’. For a successful hit they were awarded money and a faked studio applause. Simon recreates this game on the Internet and in the gallery space, where there is an actual target and a person operating an equivalent ‘weapon’ as an extension of the web camera, while the participant’s access to the game is enacted through Internet and digital technology.

The shift, which reflects the hypocrisies inherent in the paradigm of globally totalising media industries, is implemented in the game by the introduction of reality: geopolitically marked targets – territorial names of countries that are a current political threat to world stability. While here the TV studio tension becomes less publically visible and chronologically and spatially dissected, both the position and emotional involvement of the player are transformed. The fact that from a distance, a subject with a hidden identity is controlling a weapon aimed at a target representing a specific country just for the pleasure of playing the game and winning (a symbolic, electronically transferred award), shifts the focus to the ethical role of the player through his forced appropriation of the position of a political enemy.

It is possible that no one would wish to play such a game, in which case the technologies implemented here remain dormant. It is more likely that people will attempt the game but be faced with uncomfortable choices. This is how the artist himself imagines the result of the simulated militant action. He is interested in the context of the relation between man and technology, questioning the behavioural issues that are raised when a ‘game’ becomes an ‘experiment’. While in reality long-range weapons are controlled by sophisticated military technologies armed with apparatus for registering reality, in the online remake of the TV show, as the game reveals, the weaponas-extension-of the-camera-as-extension-of-thenetworked-machine-as-extension-of-the-eye is controlled by an imperfect, defective, accidentally established ‘cyborg’; a digitalised amalgam of the physical, indirectly seeing and the ‘virtual’, directly seeing human subject. In this hybrid clash, this subject cannot avoid finding themselves with disturbing, mixed-up feelings.

By Ana-Marija Koljanin
Translation by Ivana Bago