The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is pleased to present “Games, 2013-2019,” a groundbreaking, three-part exhibition by artist Shachar Freddy Kislev. The exhibition, which lives on the fringes of art and play, covers new ground for the museum: it marks the first time the Tel-Aviv museum has exhibited a video game, presented scientific illustration, and displayed riddles. It features hallucinatory scientific illustration, a video game based on Google Image Search, and an abstract sculptural playground for toddlers. Bound together by a sense of play, the projects operate at the outer periphery of art - at the threshold between art and games, and art and science.
Hexagonal Lobes, Moist Tube and Other Riddles
a series of fruit description
and their illustrations by scientific illustrators
who suspected nothing
The first part of the exhibition is an artwork that doubles as a riddle exhibition, a collaborative work of scientific illustration, and a collection of imaginary fruit. It consists of hundreds of scientific illustrations of mutant vegetable-things. These resulted from the following procedure:
Blindfolded, grope a fruit or a vegetable.
Describe what you’re feeling in technical terms. Remain ambiguous.
Commission scientific illustrators to prepare drawings based on the descriptions. Claim that the descriptions are hallucinations that come to you in your sleep.
Marvel at the resulting illustrations: peculiar sci-fi beings, faintly echoing fruit.
Marvel, too, at the relations between the drawings, the descriptions, and the fruits.
Ask viewers to reverse-engineer the process, and decipher the father-vegetable from the child-drawings.
The project is an exercise in translation, across mediums and across senses. At once whimsical and scientific, it gave rise to various mutations. A small selection of such mutants, along their respective descriptions, can be found here.
The image-search game
“Google What” is image search in reverse. The game shows the user a search result, and he has to guess the query. The user asks himself: what do these images have in common? What search string would have resulted in this specific cluster of images? How did I get here? In this inversion of Google image search, a simple search phrase proliferates into a bounty of visual information: the user has to funnel down this messy multiplicity of images, back into its clean origin. The game features over 100 rounds, lovingly hand-searched, including some of the weirdest puzzles in the history of video games. A demo of the game can be played online.
A playground for toddlers
In the newly built family wing, a play environment for toddlers is installed. Abstract and geometric, in primary colors, it walks the line between a sculpture and a playground; a soft sculpture for infants. The sloping playground, titled “Warm Shadow”, is loosely modeled after Dani Karavan’s iconic 1968 Monument to the Negev Brigade, dedicated to fallen soldiers in Israeli’s War of Independence. There are notable coבntrasts, however: the concrete was replaced by foam, the grey by primary colors, the desert wind by air conditioning, and the battle-scene echoes by crawling children, oblivious.
In a world governed by algorithms designed to mine human behavior for data, Kislev’s work is a refreshing swerve. Kislev uses similar processes, but to new, imaginative ends that upend market-based behavior. And yet, for all its modernity, there is a gesture toward more antiquated times - primarily in the form of the riddle, which supplants information with wisdom. Kislev’s work allows us to imagine a Sphinx every time we recover a forgotten password and must answer a personal riddle (“Where were you born?”).
Shachar reddy Kislev (b. 1982) works in Tel Aviv. His wide-ranging practice includes sculpture, installation, games, works on paper, video, photography and computer-generated images. A Ph.D. in the history of philosophy, he teaches philosophy, art, and games at Tel Aviv University, Shenkar College, and Bezalel Academy of Art. Since 2016 he serves as head of the National Artist Union.