First of all, your progress feels like something you would find in a modern art gallery. The participants begin in a kind of holding area, a dimly lit room with a clean, minimalist aesthetic. A staircase leads you to a broken mirror that rests on a pedestal. A description of the mirror emoji is on the wall behind it. But things get strange when you turn around. To move forward, you have to go straight through a blue wall to a completely new location. This is art about Fortnite.
Your Progress Will Be Saved is the first part of a new Manchester International Festival (MIF) project called "Virtual Factory," which is essentially a virtual art gallery created in Fortnite's creative mode. (An actual IRL room called The Factory is currently under construction.) Fittingly, the debut installation was made by LaTurbo Avedon, an artist and curator who also happens to be a digital avatar.
"The LaTurbo Avedon project offers everything we need to be The Factory: a place where new artistic forms and experiences are created, played and enjoyed by a diverse audience," said Mark Ball, artistic director of MIF.
After you've made it through the wall, you'll be taken to a similarly dimly lit studio apartment that is held in bright pink and purple lights. Next to the bed there is a drawing table and a kitchen table with spilled muesli. The goal is to collect memories. You do this by finding shiny objects. As you approach one, you will receive instructions such as "Inspect Overturned Painting." When you do this, you will be greeted with cryptic snippets of text such as "I remember a hut in the wild".
As you move through the installation, the scene changes. The apartment gives way to a more industrial building in which everyday rooms – such as a birthday party or an office cabin – are stacked on top of each other like boxes in a warehouse. In the middle is a glittering stage with a silent and stand-alone microphone. Smoking machines create a foggy haze. If you go further, you will enter a club with roaring dance music. Once you've collected each of the five memories, you can “look at” a broken mirror. After that, you will fall through a strange, psychedelic world reminiscent of Travis Scott's surreal Fortnite event in May.
"Reflections are visible throughout the virtual factory," says Avedon of her work. "From the memory of the installed works and locations to loud reflections from the game engine itself. Just as much of the world deals with a cultural moment of immateriality, your progress leaves the nearby, yet distant tension, online to be alone. "
There are aspects of the experience that are reminiscent of a real art installation, but your progress is saved is most notable for the way it differs. For one, it is a free expansion of one of the most popular games in the world. (You can check it yourself using creator code 1248 2128 4287.)
You can also take your time here. If you've been to a Yayoi Kusama exhibition before, you'll be familiar with the onslaught of bodies that move quickly through a room and use their short time mainly to take the perfect Instagram photo. You don't really have the opportunity to start work. That is not in your progress. Will be saved. You can spend as much or as little time as you like, and you don't have to worry about touching the art. While you carry a pickaxe around with you, it cannot damage anything. You can also completely change the mood by dressing up as sentient banana or as your favorite avenger.
This type of virtual exhibit is particularly noteworthy now that the world is forced to rethink its relationships with physical locations. Fortnite developer Epic was particularly adept at creating a brand new island with social focus where concerts and movie nights take place. Similarly, Minecraft users have done everything from hosting game graduation ceremonies to building huge libraries to house censored journalism.
Your progress will be saved, just the beginning of a much larger project. The MIF has also commissioned virtual works from American game developers (and professors) such as Robert Yang, British Nigerian filmmaker Jenn Nkiru and British artist Tai Shani. "They create work for a building that has not yet been opened," says MIF digital director Gabrielle Jenks and reuse it. "