Tabor Robak employs an arsenal of software-based tools that are traditionally used in the production of simulated worlds for smartphone apps, video games, and motion picture graphics. The results are immersive and captivating installations that explore the symbiotic relationship between humanity and technology. By adopting the visual vocabulary of video games to isolate and comment on the appeal of those very games, Robak pushes up against the increasingly tenuous separation between the digital and the real, between our lives and the smartphones that run them. Free-to-Play lite is a self-playing version of “match-three” video games, similar to popular apps such as Bejeweled and Candy Crush Saga, in which the player tries to align three or more similar items on a grid in order to make them break apart and disappear. For his source imagery, Robak purchased a package of two hundred thousand commercial icons that he trimmed down to seven thousand and brought to life with code he wrote specifically for the work. With every fifteen “breaks” that occur, the grid takes on a new, random pattern; the same combinations never appear twice. Displayed on four stacked screens, the automatic gameplay produces a mesmerizing pattern of movement and images; it is a monumental homage to visual excess and distraction.
Label from For the Love of Things: Still Life, February 27–May 29, 2016