Back in 2015 I finished a project I was particularly excited about. Still am really. In typical Pauper fashion I used it on a couple of things and then let it collect dust for three years with minimal documentation. In an effort to get back in to a creative practice (need…. to…. make….. more…. art…. *GASP*) I recently plugged in my well-abused modified Playstation 2 and sat down to work on some brief sketches. It’s a rewarding machine to approach as an artistic tool. As with most corrupted gaming environments the palette changes from game to game depending on the manner in which the engineers utilized the hardware.
The level at which you can stack bends and shred polygons down to their basics is b-b-breath-taking. I spent a lot of time researching the PS2 hardware before I dove in. Fortunately there is a lot out there on the subject. The GPU corruption mods I wired up for the PS2 are a lot more varied in comparison to what I cooked up on the Dreamcast (which I will highlight in a later installment). The PS2 has some very nice object trailing modes and vertical polygonal stretch modes that far exceed the corrupted malleability of polygons on both the PS1, Sega Saturn & Dreamcast. The right conditions even create little rivers of feedback in conjunction with object texture-stripping (see “Where the Water Meets the Ruins” below).
I was never a PS2 fan as a kid, my allegiance was with Sega. In my later years however my primary fascination with the PS2 became how vast and trashy the library of titles is. They pumped out a lot of soul-less crap for this thing. It’s library is a pretty apt reflection of American culture in the early two thousands. Speaking of which, another aspect worth noting about the PS2 was how dark, realistic and graphic the depictions of violence suddenly got. Where else could you strangle a dude with a plastic bag? Or beat a prostitute to death after paying them for sex? Lord knows what cruel fantasies we’re acting out in video games these days but the PS2 featured some of the first titles to genuinely shock and disturb me.
I initially wanted to work with some of the most objectively cruel and useless titles and see if I could flip ’em in an interesting way. This is what lead me to working so extensively with Cabela games for a little while there. The premise to every Cabela game is simple (and poorly executed); kill animals. While I’d rather people kill virtual animals than real ones I still find these games a special breed of depressing. For “Fabricating Elk Meadows” I utilized the game Dangerous Hunts where you follow an old man into the woods to shoot all manner of woodland creatures. I was delighted to discover that you can choose not to pick up any weapons and walk right past the old guy into the woods for a leisurely stroll where effectively nothing happens. The forest is designed to look dark and “dangerous” but by utilizing the right combination of GPU corruptions it becomes a pretty peaceful and warm place to take a stroll.
In anticipation of a Basement Labs VHS release I’m working on with the circuit bent PS2 I’ve uploaded a couple of quick sketches from 2015-2016. I’ll be uploading and sharing some more recent works shortly. I also hope to document a number of other curious things I’ve done with my time on planet earth in the near future. Keep your Eyes peeled for “Mining the Emotion Engine” from Basement Labs this September.