What is Vernissage?
Vernissage is CENTAUR‘s foray into digital gaming. A follow-through from our ongoing project Art Dai Dee and borrowing some ideas from Pablo Helguera’s Manual of Contemporary Art Style, it is a smartphone app that helps you role-play and have fun at contemporary-art-exhibition openings.
What? Just — why?
The contemporary visual art world is a game.
The vocabulary used in artists’ talks, curatorial essays, and critical “interrogations”; the unspoken power hierarchy between collectors, gallery owners, and practitioners; the way “affinity networks” develop at international conferences and exchanges – all these tell of a complex system that artists and other participants are obliged to “play” if they want to get ahead in the industry.
In this, the art world is a microcosm of social interactions, in general – Name drop! Butter up influential persons; damn rivals with faint praise! Break boundaries just enough to impress, but don’t go so far as to offend your community’s sensibilities! – and there is no better microcosm for the art world than an exhibition opening.
The objective of Vernissage is to play the part of a visual-art-world participant, and to play this part well. Go to an exhibition opening and start the Vernissage app. it will automatically determine your location and assign you a character. Role-play your assigned character.
Judge yourself, judge other people:
The character sheet you are given has a list of actions for you to perform at the exhibition opening. You may attempt to perform these actions as many times as you wish. After every attempt, assess your performance and give yourself points.
When you are finally bored of the exhibition opening, tell Vernissage you’re going home, and you will be presented with a questionnaire, asking you about the actions of any of the other players at that particular exhibition opening. This is your opportunity to give or remove points from other players.
Everyone’s points are tracked on a city-wide leaderboard. Compete with your rivals, see how you relate to your allies, and keep working at driving up your art-world cache!