Single channel color video, stereo sound
640 x 488 pixels
The number 4:57 represents one horizon of possibility for human play within Super Mario Bros. and the ultimate goal of a speedrunner named Andrew Gardikis—what he calls his “gaming masterpiece.” Published by the Speed Demos Archive and competitively raced live at Speed Runs Live, speedrunners are “expected to use every method at their disposal, including glitches, to minimize time.” One of the first and most famous games to speedrun is Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. and Andrew Gardikis has held the world record in this game for the last six years.
In this short documentary video, hundreds of Gardikis’ attempts leading up to his latest world record are collaged on top of one another and played simultaneously. At any given frame, the only-slightly blurred cloud of Marios in the middle of the screen is evidence of both Gardikis’ precision and the the temporal and spacial registrations undergirding all digital media. At the end of the video, Gardikis shouts “oh my gosh, I don’t even know!” Human knowledge is foreclosed as the granularity of this form of statistical play operates outside of human perception. Super Mario Bros. has ceased to function in terms of strategy, skill, agency, or intentionality.
Only after thirty minutes of decoding video and counting frames, was this world record discovered in retrospect. Gardikis’ uncertainty articulates a kind of play occurring outside the register of human consciousness and signals an unknown history of Super Mario Bros. in which thousands of thumbs have millions of Marios over goombas and green pipes.