Will the Wii lower knife violence, theoretically?
The late German philosopher Martin Heidegger distinguished works of art from the equipment used to produce them by his assertion that artworks incorporate their creation as part of their content. With equipment – pencils, paintbrushes, what have you – their very usefulness distracts us from the fact that they were indeed made. Equipment does not proclaim its creation as part of its content.
What might Heidegger make of the new WiiSpray prototype made by German Bauhaus University graduate student Martin Lihs? Design students at the University created a prototype Wii controller with Lihs that is made to look and feel like a can of spray paint. The possible side effect is of keeping graffiti artists indoors rather than out.
Lihs, after spending time in Lisbon earlier this decade, developed an interest in graffiti and raised the following questions, which turned into the basis for his master’s thesis:
“Is it possible to create a tool that allows one or more people to interact creatively independent of space and time?
“Furthermore, is it possible to exchange thoughts and ideas through this?
“Can people who have only been observers take part in the creation process?”
Lihs’ version of the tool of the graffiti artist, the spray can, is merely a catalyst for the software. Using the Wii can is as self-explanatory as using a regular can of spray paint. The software allows an array of colors and interchangeable caps, and it allows the user to incorporate their own photos, graphics, and backgrounds into their artwork. The WiiSpray is a tool that deliberately omits specifications on how to use it. It’s all up to the individual user. In view that video games have been blamed for causing game-based violence to spill over into real life, might it soon be credited with reducing crime through what is often seen as a transgressive art form, or could it actually result in an increase in real world grafitti due to Wii's exposure to consumers? (thanks, Darren!)