Punching a painting by Claude Monet is never a good idea, as Andrew Shannon learned the hard way last week when he was sentenced to five years in prison for putting his fist through “Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat” (1874) at the National Gallery of Ireland. But if it’s a digital likeness of the $10 million Impressionist painting, like the one that awaits in Punch a Monet, all bets — and gloves — are off.
The new game by Dries Depoorter, Eiji Muroichi, and Tom Galle is very simple: The user navigates an avatar around a small, red-walled gallery in which the lone work on view is Monet’s “Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat.” Equipped with only a fist, the user can inflict varying degrees of damage on the painting, with a counter tabulating the cost of said damage with every new punch. Hits causes $3,143,600 worth of damage each, maxing out at $12,574,400. After about eight hits, the painting comes crashing to the gallery floor, and an alarm sounds, which is how you know you’ve won!
Though it’s neither as colorful nor as enjoyably open-ended as Grayson Earle’s Ai Weiwei Whoops! — which lets players smash Ai Weiwei vases to their hearts’ content — the first-person-shooter presentation of Punch a Monet is a major step-up in terms of gameplay. It’s no Jeff Koons Must Die!!!, but it sure is satisfying.
Depoorter, Muroichi, and Galle created the Monet-punching platform at Party New York, a design and advertising group based in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Party New York’s other web-based wonders include Sad Tweets, a site that aggregates the least popular tweets on Twitter, and Sperm Visualizer, which choreographs scores of motion-captured sperm to move in time with your music.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.