Caleb Larsen, "Simulacrum" (2005) - images courtesy of the artist
"The Sims is an off-the-shelf video game simulating life in all of its mundane glory. The player is required to micromanage the lives of his virtual people, or "Sims". He must instruct them to find jobs, eat, brush their teeth, watch television, use the rest room, and go through all of the real life banalities. The Sims are also able to form relationships with each other, fall in love, have babies, and die. Not only does the game alllow one to voyeuristically watch the lives and experiences of the simulated people, but also to control them.Serious and playful at the same time, this project uses computers and consumer electronics as both the subject and the media. It relates not only to work done by Joseph Beuys, Alan Kaprow, and Tehching Hsieh in which they were exploring the art/life relationship, but it also looks at artificial intelligence, technological simulacrum, time usage, and personal endurance.
For this project I replicate, in the game, elements of my life, family, apartment, and neighborhood as closely as the game will allow. I create a character with a virtual life not unlike my own, and while my Sim advances his career, maintains his home, and develops personal relationships, mine all but stand still. Both the life of my Sim and my own life are put on display.
In June of 2005 this project was installed/performed in the Tjaden Gallery at Cornell University. For one week I played The Sims in the gallery from 9:00am to 4:30pm. The video was projected 16'x11' on the largest wall and I sat at a desk in the center of the gallery. During the exhibition I maintained a weblog of my Sim, documenting his life by posting screenshots and captions. The weblog serves to record the exhibition as well as provide a dimension of the piece that exists outside of the gallery." (Caleb Larsen)