Computer Games and Picture Interference

by Helga Maria Bischoff

© 1997 Helga Maria Bischoff
from: Needleworks II, Katalog Patricia Waller, Heilbronn 1997


TVs, PCs, video clips, computer games, virtual reality and cyberspace are becoming more and more integrated in all areas of our social life. Image by image, a staged, fictive or virtual reality is advancing as a prime communication factor. Patricia Waller has taken the lighter elements of these applications and woven their processes with artistic positions.

"Computer Games" uses the motif of pre-designed Gobelin needle point patterns with classical subjects from art history: still life, flowers, animal motifs and landscapes with idyllic villages or religious memorabilia. The artist draws a parallel between the reproducibility of image motifs, an art strategy Andy Warhol referred to as "Painting by Numbers", and programmed creativity of computer games. Using commands such as "Choose Favorite Fruit", anyone with a PC, program and mouse can construct their own still life. One's own imagination in such an activity is as challenged as that of a housewife doing Gobelin needle point.

Since the Renaissance artists have attempted to use perspective to integrate three-dimensional space in two-dimensional images and present the viewer a virtual world. This idea reached a climax in Baroque: ceilings disappeared into clouded skies, and walls appeared as beckoning columned passages. At the cutting edge of modern technology, cyberspace surpassing all previous efforts. Equipped with a helmet or glasses, gloves or joysticks, a person can enter a constructed, fictive environment, wander through ancient temples or on distant planets. In Patricia Waller's imaginary world, "Virtual Realities", the technology of the Gobelin needle point is built pixel by pixel into a computer images.

"Bildstörung" (Picture Interference) is the title of the knitted monitor screens: an illusion, with flickering images suggesting the moment of interrupted perception. What normally appears to the eye within a fraction of a second, cutting off the television's flow of images, is created here stitch by stitch in a slow process.

In her artistic engagement Patricia Waller reacts to various temporal phenomena with playful parodies, in which one must read the many small footnotes she has included. Applying seldom used media such as needle and yarn, she consciously quotes elements from areas of art history and thereby achieves unusual associations and new perspectives.