Frank Stella in Morro Castle

Patrick LeMieux

Frank Stella in Morro Castle

Black Sanwa JLF joystick, IPAC, Power Mac G4,

Flash Application, digital projector, wood, paint

36" x 18" x 18"

September 29, 2008

Frank Stella

Morro Castle

Black paint on canvas

84 ⅝" x 107 ⅞"


¾ scale reproduction by Patrick LeMieux.

Frank Stella in Morro Castle (2008) places the artist's figure within his inaugural "Black Painting" now transformed into a top-down arcade game. Photographs shot by Hollis Frampton in Frank Stella's studio during the creation of Morro Castle (1958) animate the avatar of the artist. The painting's twenty-five black stripes fuse into a single labyrinthine pathway while two divergent stairways convert the nonrepresentational marks into the very castle (or apartment building, or cruise ship) suggested by the title. As Stella, the player must slowly trace the path pioneered by the artist's brush in order to reach either staircase. Working as a housepainter at the time, Stella adapted the job's ethos to his art practice, designing the "Black Paintings" to be "finished" as quickly and efficiently as possible. Like the arbitrary goals necessary to complete most videogames, the player might choose to pilot the painter to the far stairway. After finally arriving at the "finish," Stella's figure ascends or descends only to reappear from the opposing stair. The scoreboard in the bottom right corner tallies as one vertically traverses a stack of two dimensional floors in this castle of infinite height and depth.

Play the Game

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At Mason Murer

in Atlanta, GA on August 14 to September 11, 2009

At the School of Art and Art History

in Gainesville, FL on November 18, 2009