Video Game Appreciation 101, Scary Side: Roxy’s – A Little Slice of Silent Hill, Circa 1960…

Edward Kienholz was an artist you may or may not have heard of (depending on your level of education), so if you know his work and happen to be a gamer, you’re smiling right now.  For those of you who are scratching your heads, I’ll let you Google him and more of his work up at your leisure. Before that, take a peek at that image to the left. Go on, it won’t bite (I think)…

OK, maybe this should be ART Appreciation 101, huh?. It’s from Roxy’s, an environmental installation piece from 1960-61 (and the artist’s first large scale work) based (loosely, I hope) on the artist’s memories of a visit to a Las Vegas bordello in the 1940’s. Long story short, I’d seen this image years ago in an art book and it bugged the hell out of me for weeks. As in seeing that figure hovering around in a nightmare or two and maybe wanting to dig my eyes out with a cold spoon after waking up bugged…

I’d forgotten all about it until I played Silent Hill back on the original PlayStation back in 1999 (those nurses brought back memories), then later, Silent Hill 2 with its freaky mannequins and thematic elements revolving around the Maria character made me think of this artwork again. On that occasion, I actually wondered in the dev team had seen or heard of Kienholz’ art work, specifically this installation, as there are some moments that almost feel as if you’re IN a strange museum. Granted, stuff in Roxy’s isn’t trying to kill you at all, but there’s an unsettling tone to both the games and this room-sized piece that’s too close for comfort.

Naturally, I’d forgotten about that image (again), as Silent Hill 3’s giant stuffed rabbits and 4’s creepy update to Home Alone made me think of other things that grew less arty with the later non-Konami developed Silent Hill titles. To date, it’s been only Climax’s brilliantly conceived and executed Silent Hill: Shattered Memories that made me think a tiny bit of Roxy’s, but that was more due to some of the choices made during gameplay that changed who turned up as a supporting character. I won’t spoil that for those of you who haven’t yet played this Wii, PS2 and PSP classic, by the way.

Anyway, that was a few years ago, so no Roxy’s flashbacks until recently when scanning an art book for a friend’s teaching project. I should have realized that this was the EXACT same book with the EXACT same image on the (wait for it…) EXACT same page that freaked me out those many years back. But nope, I didn’t realize it at all until I hit the page. Ah, memories… Ha ha… eek.

Actually, I wasn’t scared at all this time, but I certainly wouldn’t want to wake up to THAT sitting next to my bed, that’s for sure. That and any thoughts I’ve ever had about paying too much money for the services of a lady of the evening (never thought about it, by the way) have gone right out the window with my lunch. Yuck. OK, class dismissed – I still have a bunch of scanning to tackle, whee. Thankfully, i checked and there aren’t any more pictures that will have me headed for the cutlery. Isn’t art FUN? Er, good niiiiiiight and pleasant dreams to you. As those Motel 6 ads say, “We’ll leave a light on for you…”

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