Time in Spaces

An hour spent in an unchanging space inside Goldeneye.

Companion piece – 56: Goldeneye

Over a long weekend in 1974, French Philosopher Georges Perec recorded every event, however large or small, that took place as he sat gazing out of the window. In these idle moments, Perec observed the changing world of people, buses, and pigeons as they passed into and out of his life. Perec asked himself to consider what happens when nothing happens. What is noteworthy about the unnoticeable?

My vigil didn’t last as long as Perec’s, but one Saturday afternoon I spent an hour within the familiar surroundings of Nintendo 64 classic Goldeneye. Specifically, the bathroom of the game’s second level, with the task of exhaustively recording every detail held within the digital world as Perec had done before me.

After an initial moment of intense action where I dropped in on unsuspecting guards from the vents, I was left in silence. Bullet holes littered the room, but bodies began to slowly fade from existence leaving me alone. I took in the reality of the space. My eyes tracking around the room, constantly fighting against the controls that snapped my vision back to the centre of the screen. I traced the lines of the tiles, sat in each cubicle, read every sign, but I was constantly aware that I was in a space that was no longer designed for me to exist within. No water gushed from the urinal, no more enemies entered to vanquish. It was a space that would forever remain in this frozen state until I continued the game or switched it off.

This is not the living and breathing sentient spaces that many modern games aspire to. But instead, I was met with one that remained eerily consistent. It was in that consistency that I felt hostility, and forced to move onwards. Perec’s world continued without him, and sitting outside of that as an active viewer, he found beauty. I on the other hand was living within a space specifically constructed for me, but had nothing left to give. The space had served its purpose, and it wanted me to leave.

By Jon Place

Jon is a writer and visual artist currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. His work explores themes of imagined landscapes, and he writes about comics and video games. See his work on Instagram @art.incomics

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