/roʊˈdeɪoʊ/, Let’s Play: Hollywood


/roʊˈdeɪoʊ/ Let’s Play: HOLLYWOOD by Cory Arcangel is a super computer that plays and learns to play in real time “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood”, an Android video game in which the goal is to gain more and more fans to become a celebrated Hollywood star. Using an impressive and complex machine learning process, the system calculates and identifies the most effective game actions on the basis of the reinforcement learning algorithm. It can do everything a human player can: click, double-click, scroll and restart the game. Everything is also visible as it happens; each act taken by the system (which can be heuristic, generated by the artificial intelligence or random) is shown to the viewers through a series of emoticons that run synchronously on the right of the screen, synthetically representing the activities in progress. A precise glossary of each is available on the project website. In the installation, the work has an imposing and decisive aesthetic: an enormous central screen is flanked by a super computer that is physically present and visible. Unlike previous video games by the same artist (such as “Various Self Playing Bowling Games” or the iconic “Super Mario Clouds”), this system does not modify the game itself in any way. The point here is no longer to isolate and emphasise an aesthetic or functional aspect of the game and turn it into a “pre-recorded” paradox, extrinsic to the code, as in a synecdoche. The process here is more a hyperbole. The narrative is a deployment of forces that become oversized when compared to the purpose shown: playing an obsolete, graphically simple videogame with a poor narrative. Perhaps the intent of the artist is showing, with a violent abundance of details, the way that humans are constantly subjected to competitive mechanisms of gamification. Perhaps this is in order to demystify the illusory reward of ‘winning’, oriented to objectives that do not nourish our thinking at all, but rather flatten it.