At first glance, Free-to-Play lite recalls the many simple and addictive games that are free to play on social media websites and apps. Specifically, it builds on the model of “match-three” digital games, similar to Bejeweled and Candy Crush Saga, in which the player tries to align three or more similar items on a grid. The artist has said he himself plays such games when “I just want to forget myself and dissolve into nothing.”
Using seven thousand icons that he purchased online, Tabor Robak wrote custom software to create a self-playing “match-three” game. The automatic gameplay produces random, mesmerizing patterns, reminding us that the experience of playing such games is often one of mindless distraction. By having the game “play” itself, Robak prompts us to consider not only the different ways we engage with art today but also how computers are redefining creativity.
Label from We the People: New Art from the Collection, October 23, 2018–July 21, 2019