In his 2022 solo exhibition Really New God at Davis Lewis Gallery (November 4, 2022 - December 22, 2022), Alex Mackin Dolan presented custom-built video game machines that illuminate the addictive and extractive techniques of modern media. The show's title refers to the acronym RNG, or Random Number Generator, an algorithm that determines random outcomes in video games and computer programs. RNG is colloquially known in the machine gambling industry as Really New God.
The machines in the show, handcrafted from wood and spare parts, are modeled after "medal games"—a type of amusement machine popular in Japan that involves exchanging money for tokens without the ability to convert tokens back to cash. Though lower stakes than casino games, medal games simulate and normalize machine gambling. As Dolan's work suggests, these types of games share DNA with today's ad-driven apps and websites, which employ addictive design to capture user attention and "bleed" funds over time.
Through his constructed arcade cabinets, Dolan draws connections between gambling mechanics, algorithmic systems, and the extractive attention economy of digital media. Blurring recreation and addiction, his works reveal the underlying programs that fuel obsessive consumption. Ultimately, the exhibition imagines algorithmic code as the new omnipotent force shaping social behaviors and desires.
Dolan (b. 1990, Colorado) is based in New York. His work has been exhibited globally, including at the Serpentine Gallery, Swiss Institute, LUMA Westbau, and the Park Avenue Armory. He was featured in Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland, and Ulrich ObristHann's book Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present.
LINK: Alex Mackin Dolan (All images courtesy of the Artist)