HASH Award 2018 - Award Winner

Marloes de Valk

Picture of the start of the video game »What Remains« by the Dutch artist Marloes de Valk

The »HASH« Award 2018 was given to artist Marloes de Valk. Her artistic works range from computer games to installations and publications. In addition to surveillance technologies and artificial intelligence, she critically examines the mechanisms and contexts of propaganda, fake news, and climate change.

During a four-week Web Residency in 2017 on »Blowing the Whistle, Questioning Evidence«, she explored in the essay »How to Escape Reality in 10 Simple Steps« the strategies of industry and politics to manipulate public opinion and the role of the media, based on PR campaigns during the 1980s in the US.

Juror Marisa Olson was particularly impressed by the variety of media the artist uses as a “passionate and informed cultural commentator on the larger ecosystem of technological devices that includes network culture and its symptoms – from global warming to infectious surveillance states. When talking about Internet Art in 2018, it is essential to include this wider range of aesthetic, cultural, and political considerations.” (Marisa Olson)

Marloes de Valk used the production prize of 8,000 euros to create two computer games: »What Remains« (2019) and »Villains and Heroes« (2020).

Idoine Dynamics (Arnaud Guillon, Chun Lee, Dustin Long, Aymeric Mansoux, Marloes de Valk)

What Remains

video game; Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), gamepad, NES cartridge, CRT monitor

The virtual world of »What Remains« is based on the findings that de Valk published in »How to Escape Reality in 10 Simple Steps«. Together with Arnaud Guillon, Chun Lee, Dustin Long, and Aymeric Mansoux as artist group Iodine Dynamics, she developed the 8-bit game, blending visual novel and adventure elements. The story translates real events from the 1980s into an epic quest to save the world. The game lets you experience the fight against industry disinformation, showing you several ways to push back, and regain agency by joining forces with others. The 1980s was the decade in which many of the problems we face today became painfully apparent. The collateral damage of industrial capitalism – acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer, global warming – became visible at the same time as the rise of neoliberalism, with its push for deregulation. In those days, several industry disinformation campaigns have been successfully used in an attempt to delay regulation. The game is based on those campaigns, showing strategies that are still used today. The game is developed for the original NES hardware. In order to not generate more e-waste, the game is developed on reused and repurposed cartridges.

Marloes de Valk

Villains and Heroes

video game - interactive fiction; website: HTML5, Javascript

The online computer game »Villains and Heroes« is an interactive fiction based on a real event: the costume party hosted by multi-billionaire Robert Mercer shortly after the election of Donald Trump in December 2016. Mercer was a major contributor to Trump’s presidential campaign. The twenty-five guests the artist was able to identify are the protagonists of the story. It all starts with the player being accidentally invited to this party. As the story unfolds, the player tries to uncover the identity of the disguised guests – among them Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and Nigel Farage – carefully maneuvering the rooms in the mansion without getting exposed as an uninvited guest. The player hones their bluffing skills and gathers poker chips in the hope of winning a game of poker in a setting where truths, opinions, facts, and lies are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from each other. While progressing, the player discovers the incredible number of think tanks and lobby groups used to promote the denial of climate change, the targeting of fragile minorities as scapegoats, the lowering of taxes, and the continued dismantling of the welfare state. The work explores how the guests plan to further their elitist agenda by tapping into the anger and frustration of citizens with a failing political system.

»Villains and Heroes«

»How to Escape Reality in 10 Simple Steps«


HASH Award 2018 – Marloes de Valk
Presentation of the production prize