Are Video Games Art? Find Out at Art Basel's Deluxx Fluxx Arcade

Take a stroll down Washington Ave from December 3-7 and stumble into an arcade to get a different shade of Art Basel. The FAILE Bast Deluxx Fluxx Arcade 2013 Miami Beach Presented by Perrier (phew) will take you back to the grand ol' days of the arcade and give you the chance to immerse yourself in the merger between art and play.

We had a chance to talk to Patrick Miller, one half of Brooklyn-based FAILE, and one of the artsy minds behind the installation:

Tell us a bit about this arcade space!

FAILE & BAST are creating an art arcade. This is the third installement we've done [with all new games for Miami]. We're essentially celebrating the old style kind of '80s arcade--that sort of intersection between that experience growing up, going to those arcades, finding that a magical, strange place--then taking those games and celebrating them as electronic art. We're taking art out of the gallery setting and have people interact and associate with the art in a way that's totally immersive. Play with the art, manipulate it, really enjoy it in a non-conventional setting.

We also really wanted to do it in South Beach. We wanted to capture how Washington felt (I don't know if "seedy"is the right word). It's got some more grit to it than all the other avenues. I also think it's an extension of the street art that's part of our background, it's something that can pop up for a few days, then be gone, and someone can kind of stumble across it.

What kinds of games are going to be on display?

This is the first time we've done pinball machines. Doing the electromechanical stuff is more difficult. We also have nine arcade cabinets, and each cabinet has two to four games on it. The cabinets were taken apart, repainted--it becomes a sculptural object all the way around. There's also blacklight room in the back with foosball tables.

New games bring our artwork to life or let the user manipulate the art.There are about 25 games. Surfin' Safari is about a surfing horse. There's High-Rise Surprise, which has six buttons. Each player slowly destroys palm trees and builds condominiums. In another, you drop bricks of cocaine into boats. It plays with a little bit of pop culture things towards Miami.

With all of the games being original creations, what was the process like?

We played a lot of video games growing up and still love that culture around gaming. We don't really have a background in game development, though. Essentially, it was really just about celebrating the idea of arcades and arcade culture. We sat down with some programmer friends and hashed our way through it.

What are the kinds of games from back in the day that inspired the project?

Original Atari 2600, Nintendo, so on and so forth. As far as being in the old arcade, Galaga, the original Star Wars--that weird, super bright screen. The 720 skateborading game, Off-Road. It's not just the games--it's also the tokens, the t-shirts, and the blacklights, and the neon, the weird kind of space where kids and adults met in these spaces before people gamed online.

What does the future hold for you?

We really hope to do it [in] Paris/LA/Hong Kong. Every time we do this show, and you watch people's reactions, people are just so happy. When you have the opportunity to do that as an artist, it's a fun thing.... I hope it keeps leading to different game ideas!

You can check out the FAILE BAST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade 2013 Miami Beach Presented by Perrier December 3-7 at 1604 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, from 3 p.m. 'til late each day. For more info, visit deluxxfluxx.com

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