A row of chairs abandoned on the beach

A row of chairs abandoned on the beach is a short interactive fiction by LaughingPineapple about a person who melts with the ocean.

The protagonist finds a row of verloren monobloc chairs on the beach, waiting for the flood to come. You might decide at any time to leave them and return to your warm home; but you can also decide to sit on them, wait with them, feeling increasingly empty, and eventuelly turn one with the coast, the sea, and the world itself. Other people are there in the distance, following their way, until they also blend into the blue. Where do the roads towards home lead to?

The sound design and graphical arrangement is minimal, the (often randomly chosen) texts are written greatly – they are highly poetic, beautiful, fey. While a clean, clear interpretation is neither possible, nor probably intended by the authors, there are some points I’d found striking:

The decrepit plastic chairs can be read symbol for the petrocapitalist economic system that went beyond its peak, and is in decline („the show is over“), but also as a symbol for the humans turned into commodities, with their only permited individuality in the form of the wear and tear from being used, and now left for the rising tide to swallow. The remains of human society in the form of trash as last testimonial after a crash in cause of the overexploitation of the natural resources is a recurrent theme in the studios work, so this is a nearby lens to view this work.

But while climatic anxiety is surely a part of the narrative, the text is also in the long tradition of poesy linking the sea with both death and the becoming-one with the world accepting their nature, and – on this way – ones own transience and naught. Prominent examples include Shakespears „Full Fathom Five“ (here is a wonderful interpretation by Tom Rapp!), or Hemingways „The Old man and the Sea“.

Early, often nature-religious texts, described humanity as a being born out of the nature (the often clay or wood, examples are the Edda, Adam, and the first humans in the Greek mythology) an idea that went out of fashion as the human ability to control its surroundings via the means of cilization seemingly increased, and was nearly fully discarded over the rise of the ideas of the Enlightenment, where humanity was regarded within an ideal room detached from nature, and expected to be completely in control of its own destiny.

The happenings of the 20th century crashed this view on the world, and as our lack of ability to take control became apparent, a reuniting of human and nature, or the world in general, took place in postmodern literature, and became – I believe, with the growing awareness for our interdependence with the world, ought to doom towering in sight – a central motive for the art that is now characterized as metamodern. In „A row of chairs abandoned on the beach“, humans do consequently become coast, night, and sky – but the world is turned into a living, equitable, and vivid instance in return.

The authors, LaughingPineapple, made several other games – on of them „The solar system tastes like Chicken“, was featured on this blog a while ago. Runs fine with Firefox using OpenSuse Thumbleweed.

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