SORRY! is an interactive computer installation which exploits the stylistic slapstick violence/humor of mainstram Western animation and comics to challenge the viewer to rethink what effect representational garphics really have in a “user-friendly” environment. SORRY! consists of four buttons which are associated with four characters. The player must first select a particular character (by pressing down on one of the buttons) and then continue to press down on that button causing the character on the screen to flinch. With each successive “blow”, the character deteriotates more and more, drawing heavily on the visual codes and devices of cartoons that are used to represent pain, wounds and death, as well as the suggestive power of sound effects to induce the impression of a heightened sense of impact. If the player continues to pound the character, it will eventualy “die” – but only to reappaear a few minutes later as bright and perky as ever, and the process may begin all over again. Though “game-like” in appearance, SORRY is not really a game, as ther is no skill needed to use it, and no element of chance. There is only one purpose, and that is to allow the user to inflict inane and senseless representational voilence onto an inanimate object. While on one level Sorry may be seen as an elaborate electronic punching bag, a therapeutic device for the stress of our electronic age, it also seeks to explore the idea of how we can so easily empathise with a mechanical device, if it’s simply has some kind imitative human quality,no matter how stylised or abstracted they maybe. With the on going development of user-friendly interface design for the personal computer, we as users are being continually required to “suspend our belief” of its mechanical nature and instead regard it with more human virtues of intelligence , patience, helpfulness, and even personality. But no matter how friendly computers attempt to be, when things go wrong, – a system error, bug or whatever, the facade melts away and we are once again confronted with nothing more than just an idiotic, cryptic, computing machine. Sorry attempts to intensify this paradox by creating an absurdly user friendly environment, the epitome of personified technology. But in order to cooperate or interact with this friendly beckoning blob, you are required to abuse it, and like the dumb machine that it is, it must endure the procedure according to it’s programming, which is until the user is satisfied. However the “abuse” of course is purely subjective and regardless of whatever aural or visual messages we are receiving from the console, they are nothing more than binary coding to the computer. We are suspended between the desire to project life into these graphic representations of cute, infant like characters (by pressing on a button) and the comforting (or frustating) reality that it is in fact only a machine.
- Martine Corompt, Australia