eSports, Angels, and Other Tododachi
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eSports, Angels, and Other Tomodachi

Installation with video (1-channel, 3:4 format, colour, and stereo sound, 13 min 49 s), game consoles, gaming memorabilia, and toys

Assembling pirated sequences of text and footage, eSports, Angels, and Other Tomodachi portals across worlds of contemporary gaming, late capitalism, and millennial nostalgia. Videos of games and franchises introduced from the 1990s to the 2000s such as MapleStory, Kingdom Hearts, and Touhou Project intermix with other recent international recapitulations of gaming, which unfurl as spectacle and competitive sport. Here, contemporary gaming is enmeshed within global currents of popular culture, whether manifesting as memetic fan-made anime music videos, orchestral covers of game soundtracks, or augmented reality performances by K-pop girl groups boasting game characters for its members. Observing the institutionalisation of eSports for sporting events in Southeast Asia and beyond, these playable nationalisms are posited to operate in discursive tension with broader histories of Pan-Asian sports. With gaming and competition enabled by infrastructural networks developed alongside processes of colonialism, the work fixates upon the figure of the angel—the divine messenger; a benevolent tomodachi—and draws connections to the role of Christian missionaries in proliferating amateur sport in Asia in the 20th century.

Presented on a homebrew ‘arcade’ set-up with cathode ray tube television perched on its side, the work operates with a recognition of the playful resourcefulness of emergent communities, while contending with the seemingly unceasing ability for capitalism and political institutions to co-opt play and all other facets of life.

Photos by Godwin Koay and Johann Yamin