As part of a series of works inside the East X East Red Zone in Burwood, local artists Porta and Bols have extended their POWER UP! series with a fresh container mural. In 2020, the duo installed a range of pixellated cut-out video game tokens throughout the zone, creating an analogue digital-inspired treasure hunt. Coins, potions, swords and treasure chests were hidden through the landscape and a seat painted as an arcade console explained the rules. Now, with support from Life in Vacant Spaces and the Christchurch City Council’s Red Zone Transitional Projects Fund, the artists have employed the retro game imagery with a text-based mural on a run down shipping container in the park’s north-east.
Mimicking a video game screen, amidst the black cosmic backdrop the question PLAY AGAIN? shimmers in a blocky 8-bit font. Reminiscent of the challenge posed after “GAME OVER” flashes on screen, the question posed refers to the potential of the surrounding area. The remaining concrete streets serve as reminders of the homes that once stood in place and the presence of families and in particular young people riding bikes on the streets, climbing trees in backyards and, of course, playing video games as the sun beamed outside. PLAY AGAIN? draws on both the nostalgic reminders of what once was and suggests the potential for play to return to the area, as if an encouragement.
The artists painted the work over several days, masking off the font before adding the effects with aerosol. They explained that running power lines to project the image was the biggest challenge, but one that was overcome quickly, finding humour that echoed the sentiment of the work. The artists also admit the visibility of the container from the nearby motorway was an added bonus, serving like a billboard for an inquisitive public passing by. In addition, they hope to expand the POWER UP! installations, replacing icons that proved irresistible to visitors.