Walking the Machine

In January 2020 we presented new work in Flachau, as part of the minus20degrees | festival for art & architecture.

For this snowy context, we developed a new 2 screen video: Instead of gaming and fighting, we traverse the landscape in a meditative way: a peaceful, lonely, and at moments boring hike.

The work interlaces two realities and combines video footage of two virtual environments: the snowy mountain ranges of The Frozen Wilds, part of the open-world video game “Horizon Zero Dawn.” and the virtual world of Google Earth.

During the festival it was presented in 3 forms:

• Projected on the viaduct pillars as a two-screen video

• Posted as 9 video fragments and a poem on the Instagram account of PolakVanBekum


• Posted as a YouTube video that plays with the format of “blurred sides”.

Artistic contemplation:

As we could not make it travel there, we decided to make a version for Instagram. It was a welcome excuse to dive into that platform finally.

Before we have mostly shot our video’s in Google Earth. This time we also used the open-world game “Horizon Zero Dawn”. We chose to film “The Frozen Wilds”, a part of the game area that offers players the experience of very realistic, digital snow. In that snow, one can leave footsteps. We explored that by to making a long hike, and by doing some snow-footstep-drawing. No fighting, no storyline, just enjoying the sound of our footsteps and the leaving of traces. On the photograph you see how we combined the game-footage with an exploration of snowy mountains in Google Earth, using the two pillars of a viaduct.

During the festival, Ivar van Bekkum and I posted several super short clips of the game-footage/snow-walks on Instagram. It made us feel connected. I had no expectations, but it seemed to work. One of the clips got over 350 views in two days. Mostly from people, we don’t even know. Our strategy had been to copy hashtags used by other Instagrammers that post stills of that specific video game.

Now enthusiastic, I posted one of the nine Instagram clips below on my Facebook wall. This did not work. Only two likes. I left it at that.

During dinner with friends last week I was sitting with some kids who were very bored and wanted to leave the restaurant asap to go back home and play their computer games. I felt for them. My head also was longing to dive again into the digital snow. Speaking of boredom and games, I told them about our latest video work and how it consisted of a slow, meditative walk in the game Horizon Zero Dawn. They, of course, knew HZD. Finally, I found ears to the story of how we had explored The Frozen Wilds (the mountain area in the game) how we had killed enemies, to “clear space” to be able to make our peaceful walks. One of the kids strongly advised me also to upload the video to YouTube: There is a community of people uploading their game films that might like it. He was curious whether the video might draw attention. Now I also was. We especially edited a version. The hashtags I used earlier I used as tags. I was full of expectations. So far, there are only two views. Probably our own.


The work is available for screening in indoor and outdoor situations and can be adjusted to the given space.

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