Bob Bicknell-Knight is a London based artist working in moving image, installation, sculpture, and other digital media. His main interests are surveillance, the internet, and the consumer culture in capitalist societies. He explores these themes using different tools and technologies.
Dead End and An Undignified Failure (both 2016) are part of Bicknell-Knight's 30days/30works project assignment, which consists in creating a brand new piece of work every day during an entire month and submitting an image of the piece every day. Bicknell-Knight is currently pursuing a BA in Fine Art at Chelsea College Of Arts in the United Kingdom. On his blog, the artist chronicles the creative and pragmatic challenges of undertaking such marathon.
Dead End (Day 2) is a creative collage/montage which juxtaposes the image of a gamer (the artist himself) to gameplay sequences taken from popular online first-person shooters. The brief was "is your work descriptive, or performative?"
"The second piece that I created was a 40 minute film that features a webcam video of myself, watching a compilation of all the endings from the Call of Duty video game franchise. The video of myself was filmed in the dark during the early hours of the morning, whilst watching a tv show, the light from the screen is flickering against my face with various amounts of light so that at points my face is lit up whilst at others the screen is completely black. I chose to have some fun with the layout of the different clips, creating a newsstand-esque aesthetic for the different slices of gameplay. The twisting of the different screens draws your attention towards the fact that it is a screen, that it’s a performance, a virtual space posing as a real one, something that I’m interested by. It also makes it more evident that I’m having this dialogue with the different video games, rather than simply being put in front of the gameplay. This aesthetic is borrowing from Neïl Beloufa’s video piece People's passion, lifestyle, beautiful wine, gigantic glass towers, all surrounded by water where he twists the screen, and plays with your senses. The cold, blank face of my video, seemingly playing these games considers how our first world society is (in the media’s eyes) slowly becoming desensitized to violence through the use of these FPS video games. Obviously this is not true and various studies have explored this, but I thought that it would be interesting to create something that explores this. The work reminds me a lot of Harun Farocki’s Serious Games, where soldiers are filmed playing an army game. I’m happy with the piece, but the lack of time to create the work made it so that I had to export the video in a very low quality, which is always a shame." (Bob Bicknell-Knight)
Neil Beloufa, People's passion, lifestyle beautiful wine, gigantic glass towers, all surrounded by water, 2011, Digital video, excerpt (original: 10' loop)
Harun Farocki, Serious Games I-IV, 2009-2010, Digital video, excerpt, 1 minute
To create An Undignified Failure (Day 20), Bicknell-Knight appropriated some gameplay footage of a woman being thrown out of the window of a building via a glitch. He then overlaid the sound taken from another video game, Super Mario. As he writes, "The video then rewinds incredibly slowly, coming to a head just before the woman is bounced out of the room. The sound is slowed so much that it sounds like the woman is screaming insistently."
As these works clearly illustrate, some of the most interesting machinima projects are being created in art schools around the world, discusses on blogs, and circulated on popular video sharing sites.