Although Patrick McNeill and Patrick Miller have collaborated as Faile for over a decade and a half, the pair of Patricks are still pioneering fresh modes of artistic experience. Case in point: the Deluxx Fluxx Arcade, a Faile piece that redefined gallery spaces all over the world before appearing at the far end of Long Island, in Montauk’s Surf Lodge Hotel.
The arcade itself is a smorgus of working arcade games, poster and text spattered walls, and neon lighting. CONVICTS recently caught up with Patrick McNeill to get his word on the origins of Deluxx Fluxx, the inaccessibility of much modern art, and the rare joy of watching your kids play on your creations.
Hey mate. So tell us a little bit about the history of Deluxx Fluxx Arcade?
We’ve done this Deluxx Fluxx arcade, five times, I think. There have been different incarnations of it in London and New York, Brooklyn Museum, Scotland, a couple other places.
Are all of the pieces recycled from past versions of the installation?
We made some of the stuff new for this one. The posters are new, but most of the games and things we already had from previous arcade installations.
How long did it take to put this together?
To do the installation in this room took a day, but to make all the black light posters and all the assets and everything took a long, long time.
How did you guys come up with the idea for the Deluxx Fluxx Arcade?
The arcade started off as a really random idea. We got asked to do an installation in London and we were going to collaborate with an artist named, Bast. We were talking about doing these weird living rooms with couches and televisions, but the idea of putting a pinball machine in the room came up. Then we just got talking about arcades and thinking about well that could just be why don’t we just do an arcade?
Have you always been interested in arcades? Did you grow up playing a ton of arcade games as a kid?
We’ve always talked about the weird hotel arcades that we went to as kids, on ski or school trips. You’d always find this weird arcade room in the hotel and want to spend all your time there.
How did you take the project from vision to reality?
Patrick (Miller) had some buddies from school who he thought would be great for programming the computer games. We crashed this whole thing together in like three months, but people reacted like, ‘Wow, this is something that’s interesting and fun and different than anything else’ and that kept it going.
Did exhibiting at Surf Lodge change anything about Deluxx Fluxx Arcade?
One different thing was the natural light coming into the space. Most of the times the places we’ve done the arcade have tended to be pretty dark, dungeon-esque places… but at the Surf Lodge it could be open to the elements. We embraced the natural light and how that would set the mood as the sun went down and the black lights took over.
Have other components of Deluxx Fluxx changed over the years?
The original incarnation had more non-objective based video games. The games were just weird art on the screen where you could move things.
Tell me about Montauk. Have you spent much time here?
I love Montauk. I used to spend quite a bit of time here in the summertime. I was overly surprised the first time I came here. I just had no idea. Being in New York and immersed in that, then coming to a place this beautiful totally blew me away. I always made an effort to come back every summer and take it in a little bit.
There’s a pretty rich artistic history in Montauk too, correct?
Absolutely. I know artists that retreat from the city to come work, but most of the time when I come out here it’s just to unplug and relax into nature, get out to the beach, have a bonfire at night and just totally evaporate.
This exhibition seems perfect for Surf Lodge. It’s fun and interactive…seems kind of ideal for people on a weekend getaway.
Yeah. We looked at some of the other shows that have been in here and a lot of the time people would come in, look at them and then leave. We wanted to deliver something that would lend itself to the hotel environment and keep people engaged, give them something to escape to and play around with.
How important is physical space to your work? You’ve enjoyed success online as well.
Physical exhibitions and immersive spaces have always been a huge part of what we do. Spaces where you could come in and let yourself get sucked into whole environment. The arcade’s been great in that way, ‘cause it encompasses a lot of things: sound, visual, digital media. One of the reasons we’ve done it so many times is because it’s so immersive and kept us interested in exploring all those mediums and continuing the exhibition. Also, just the way people come in and experience the arcade is unlike any of other art show we’ve done.
Tell us a little bit about that?
A lot of art can be really inaccessible. People come in and see art and it’s very hard to get. We made the arcade very approachable and that makes it fun for everyone. Part of the appeal for us is that it’s not super conceptual, not hard to get. Young people can appreciate it, old people can appreciate it. You hear laughing and screaming and sounds that you don’t hear at your typical art show. It introduces people to art in a subversive way that’s fun.
It must be cool to see your boys playing on it.
How many art shows, do we get to do where the kids come in and say ‘Dad this is fucking awesome?’ They never say that.
A few parts of the arcade were put to drunken use late night.
It lends itself a little to that.
It’s certainly a party in there. Thanks for your time Patrick, and take it easy.