Chat Room (2019) is the latest iteration of Wendy McMurdo’s ongoing body of work exploring the relationship between young people and the digital world. In this piece, she uses animation, pixel replacement and still photography to explore the hyper-connected world of gaming. What does it mean to grow up in a world of constant connection where reality and simulation often seamlessly converge? In Chat Room, the four walls of the school room are transformed into the shifting borders and terrains of the game – a world where simulation takes over and the laws of gravity are suspended.
Shot in an Edinburgh Primary School, the camera moves through a series of empty rooms. The traditional elements of the classroom appear – chairs and desks, motivational posters, childrens’ self-portraits and school work – but as soon as the rooms appear, they begin to break down, replaced by colour fields of pixels as the algorithm takes over. The borders of the game become the borders of the room itself.
Fragments of multiple conversations begin to inhabit the spaces – disjointed questions, answers, rapidly typed commands and pieces of advice which have been harvested from gaming chatrooms. Above these fragmented and disparate communications, a single female voice – itself the product of an algorithm – rings out, providing a solace of sorts as she helps us navigate our way through the constantly shifting terrain.
Duration: Projection, 10 mins (looped)
Director: Wendy McMurdo
Animation: Andrew McKelvey
Sound: Zoe Irvine