Two challengers look into each other’s eyes, ready to pounce armed to the teeth. The two cannot be more different, one in soldier’s armor with a metal helmet, the other a slender purple figure without any protection on his body, armed only with his fists.

Chris Wright, through the video game Dark Souls III (2016), creates an epic clash between two online players, You and Me (You and Me). The artist, paying particular attention to the digital bodies of the avatars, analyzes their movements and attack moves while the narrator sings the heroic deeds of You and subsequently tells the battle to the death between the two avatars from the point of view of Me. The flow of his thoughts is thus formed by a series of different tracks: what the avatar of Me is thinking, the commentary of the battle, the impressions of the player who hides behind the purple body of the avatar. As in a game of mirrors, the encounter/clash between the two characters gives life to different performative levels inside and outside the game experience.
As in a waltz, the two avatars alternate moments of stasis with dancing clashes between the walls of ruined castles and abandoned sacred places. In the background, moreover, you can see aesthetic incursions extrapolated from other game contexts, such as arcade fighting games and musical video games like the Dance Dance Revolution series (1999).

Body Language investigates the communication methods of digital bodies between the limited range of movements allowed by the game and the performative tradition typical of the communities of players, to this is added the grandeur of a film shot in contrast with the clumsiness expressed by the movements of the protagonists during gameplay. Wright’s video is reminiscent of videos produced and shared in passionate communities but connects to the contemporary artistic and academic context. Through this frame, the artist examines how the boundaries of playful activity are widened by the performative actions of the players themselves. Whether it’s the intimate physical interactions of online multiplayer, the choreographic pursuit of perfection in speedrunning or the camouflage act of character creators’ digital cosplay, Christian Wright puts community performative gestures at the forefront.

Body Language was commissioned with funds from Arts Council England as part of On Animatics, an interdisciplinary project that explores the overlaps between contemporary art, animation, fandom, avatars and virtual worlds, organized by the Hungarian artist Petra Szemán.


Christian Wright
Duration 21:19, 2560×1440, 60fps (color, sound)
Digital Video Still © courtesy the artist