INSERT COIN TO CONTINUE

Art Fair Philippines / NuNu Fine Art / 2016

These works map out the complex intersections of politics, war and economy through the visual power of archival photographs and videogames. Fusing the two set of imageries opens up commentaries layered with the authority of historical narrative and the popular appeal of an entertainment platform born out of the computer and digital language. In the process, it also tracks the continuity between the aesthetics of violence and the technologies of warfare, aggression and hostility.

Yet another offering of Keb Cerda among his playful takes on the theme and subject of war, the works are collectively named after an instruction used in coin-operated videogames: Insert Coin to Continue. This familiar phrase conjures up a continuous need to fuel one’s presence in a game or battle, to consume resources as a requisite to continue engaging in defense or launch offense. Such gesture of inserting coins draws a multitude of analogies in real-life instances of war: the necessity of funding for arms, weapons, and medical aid; the centrality of economic gains in the agenda for claiming, expanding, and occupying territories; the cost of postwar reconstruction and business opportunities it opens up; and so forth. All these reflections examine the economic more than the ideological impetus for war.

In this series, Cerda chooses icons and graphics appropriated from videogame technology in line with his earlier explorations on intervention with archival photographs. This time, he merges monochromatic scenes of ruins, battles, and actual combat captured by photography with pixelated graphics seen in computer games. These computerized figures and images making their way into vintage photographs include tokens or prizes to be collected, characters and heroes, and clouds of smoke from explosions, to name but a few. The pieces produce a striking contrast between color and figuration styles in photography and computer graphics as they highlight how politics and economy coincide in the business that we call war. Most references are from Japanese videogames; another curious twist as Japan, failing from its aspiration to establish a global empire during the Second World War, has instead conquered the world through videogame technology where the aesthetics of war and violence very much operates.

They hoped there were no weird plants in the Tropics / 48″ x 60″

Please don’t ignore them coins / 48″ x 60″

BBBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMM!!!!!! / 48″ x 48″

Gotta love that mushroom / 48″ x 48″

I bet some bastard will beat that / 60″ x 48″

They’ll always show up unless you need them / 60″ x 48″

Closing in is not cheating / 48″ x 48″”

Where’s that freaking door? / 48″ x 48″