Mike Richison, NJ
with illustrations by Amanda Smith
“Housekeeping Hero”

Chores such as washing dishes is among the least glamorous activities in the world. Housekeeping Hero takes this chore and transforms it into a game. The player must conquer the house room by room - defeating large piles of nastiness. 

THE GAME PIECES: Housekeeping Hero uses a large joystick made from a recycled vacuum cleaner. It will be just like vacuuming the floor but way more fun!

RULES: Use the vacuum cleaner to control your on-screen character and vacuum up garbage - but be aware of the baby and the dog. Sucking them up will hurt your score and possibly end the game.

Artist Statement

Over the past several years, my process has involved the collection and reassembly of discarded materials. A recurring theme that unites my work is reassigned (or voided) utility through a new context. This holds true across several media – sculpture, video, drawing and performance. 

My sculptural pieces are perhaps the most obvious manifestations of these ideas. The sculptures appropriate materials that once had a specific design and purpose. Through the remix, the components are assigned new meanings, or lose purposefulness altogether. Both the process and concept are carried over into my video work, where I collage visual and auditory elements from commercials and news footage. Often these video clips are presented in a VJ performance setting. For example, the ongoing project Exquisite E Pluribus Unum began with appropriated news footage from the 2008 American presidential campaign. It evolved into a video performance that morphs images and sound from current news footage into visual and linguistic abstractions. 

Lately, my work has taken a new direction: a mash-up of video, performance, sculptural assemblage and custom electronics. The first attempt at this combination is a project entitled Simulsuck. This piece utilizes a custom video controller comprised of discarded vacuum cleaners. The controller houses interactive electronic meters and dials that feed information such as volume and rate into the computer program Max/MSP/Jitter. The program then outputs the video while altering it according to the incoming data. For the video component, I gathered television commercials for cleaning products such as mops, sprays, sponges, and, of course, vacuum cleaners. The result is a rhythm-based improvisational musical performance. 

My latest piece, Wobble Tumble Slide, also combines video, performance and sculpture. This piece, however, relies entirely on audience interaction. Rather than involving one performer and one controller, this new installation consists of three controllers, three video channels, and multiple performers. When viewers enter the installation, the video screen show a silent instructional loop. By picking up the sculptures and manipulating them by shaking, rocking, and otherwise interacting with the moving parts, participants alter and edit the sound and appearance of the projected video clips. Like Simulsuck, Wobble Tumble Slide is a performance, but a performance that requires the participation of the viewer. The audience member is simultaneously the viewer and performer.