JODI

(BE / NL)

Jodi’s work has been included in many international exhibitions and festivals, including Documenta X in 1997. In 1999, they received a Webby Award in the Arts category, proclaiming in their compulsory five-word acceptance speech, “ugly corporate sons of bitches!”

Jet Set Willy Variations, 2002
87
Modified videogame

Jet Set Willy Variations is a software art work consisting of ten variations on the computer game Jet Set Willy (1984), conceived for one of the first home computers, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The code has been modified in such a way that although the basic functions of the game are the same, the on-screen graphics are redesigned, often turning the game into an abstract-geometric animation. The work is written in BASIC, a powerful, yet almost extinct, programming language. Jet Set Willy Variations is also one of the first artistic tributes to the culture of hobby game programmers and to the early computer subculture, a mainstay of Jodi’s work. “We had no nostalgic feeling for the ZX Spectrum machine” – explained Jodi in 2004. “We were interested in old forgotten computer languages, and this was one of the first for home users.”

To code the game, the artists used an emulator in order to access the original machine code. The downloadable program can be played on an emulator on any computer, but in this case the player loses a lot of the original experience: on the ZX Spectrum, the game ran off an audiotape, and was displayed on a TV monitor, not on a LCD screen. On a CRT monitor, “a line is not a line. A piece of red on an LCD display is just straight, one color, but on a TV it’s totally lively. Even if you put a white against a black, the TV tube cannot hold the line, and it bleeds or bows.”