Non-Player Character

Opening 29th July 2022

30th July – 21st August 2022

Galeria.Kollektiva, Schillerstraße 30, 34117 Kassel, Germany

 

Galeria.Kollektiva is delighted to present Non-Player Character, a solo exhibition by artist, curator and writer Bob Bicknell-Knight, presenting a research based body of work exploring the many facets of non-player characters (NPCs) in video games, from their looping lives to the repetitive dialogue that they bark at the player character, as a metaphor for the boundaries of human action within an increasingly algorithmic, surveilled existence.

 

NPCs are characters in video games that are controlled by the computer. They have a predetermined set of behaviours programmed by artificially intelligent (AI) software. The lives of these characters revolve around the player. They are stuck in the game world, doomed to repeat the same day for eternity, waiting to be interacted with.

 

In Non-Player Character Bicknell-Knight exhibits new paintings, sculptures, a recently commissioned CGI video and a newly produced interactive video game, examining the game development tools used to create NPCs whilst imagining what NPCs are thinking and feeling on a daily basis.

 

The central piece in the exhibition, titled Non-Player Character, is a new CGI film commissioned using funding from Arts Council England. The looping video explores the NPC as a vehicle by which we can understand human navigation of an increasingly codified and controlled existence. Controlled by the AI software, NPCs have predetermined sets of behaviours. Programmed to repeat the same day, their lives revolve around the player, waiting for interaction. Bicknell-Knight’s film imagines what enemy NPCs are thinking and feeling, forced to be defeated over and over, until their data becomes unreadable.

 

Each enemy NPC 3D model that you see in the film has been directly taken from a different video game. The script, written by Bicknell-Knight, is read out in a series of high-pitched tones, referencing the use of grunts instead of professional voice acting in early video games. Grunts were used in the 90s and early 2000s when budgets were smaller, sound hardware was more basic and the cartridge space for video games were limited. Within the film these enemy NPCs have been killed by the player, falling off the map into a white non-space, breaking into small pieces to be subsequently recycled and reused to create endless copies of their own selves. Their collective memories have become homogenised whilst their voices have been replaced by a series of grunts. The work resides on a 3D printed USB drive resembling the arm of a Deathclaw from the popular post-apocalyptic video game series Fallout. Viewers are invited to watch the film whilst sitting on a series of custom-made cubes featuring the video game textures from a number of the enemy NPCs included in the film.

 

A new series of paintings contain different NPC quotes from a number of video games from the past 20 years. The new paintings explore NPC dialogue in video games, short one-line audio clips spoken by NPCs that populate the game world. These short sentences are called barks and can be random or in reaction to the player or events happening within the game. The phrases are often repeatedly spoken to the player within the game world, sometimes heard hundreds or even thousands of times in a single playthrough. Each painting includes a specific bark from a different game, written in the games typeface and set against imagery taken from within the specific game world.

 

Bicknell-Knight’s 2D works are hybrid paintings. The pieces begin as digitally edited fabricated images. They are then printed onto canvas, stretched and then painted onto with acrylic paint, with the offline artist’s hand interacting with the original online digital image. The sides are colour matched, and the front of the canvas is partially painted onto. The paintings are held in a series of 3D printed frames, produced without a perimeter to expose the inner workings of the structure. They are intentionally elaborate, taking inspiration from traditional frames from the 18th century, deliberately drawing attention away from the subject of the work and emphasising the artificial nature of the painted representation.

 

The sculptures in the exhibition explore collectible items in video games, objects within different game worlds that can be collected by a player, and more specifically vendor trash, items found in video games that serve little or no use to the player, other than to be sold to NPC vendors for money. This mainly occurs in role-playing games (RPGs), with the most well-known types of vendor trash being extremely poor-quality equipment or items that are literally useless other than their value to vendors. In Vendor Trash I, II and III, Bicknell-Knight has reproduced a series of useless items from the video game series Fallout. These items, ranging from a garden gnome to a human skull, have been 3D printed with translucent filament and are exhibited in a number of stacked plastic crates referencing elements of the archive and storage facilities.

 

The final work in the exhibition, Gone But Not Forgotten, is an interactive video game that transports the audience into a misty forest filled with the graves of a number of NPC companions from different video game worlds. NPC companions accompany the player throughout the game and usually have complimentary skills that boosts the players abilities. Their role in the overarching story can be anything from being a helpful sidekick to a potential love interest. They are NPCs within the game world that many players become particularly attached to, with some mourning their digital deaths in the same way that you might mourn a relative or close friend. Each grave within the work is custom made, referencing the companions’ specific traits or interests.

 

Non-Player Character is an in-depth investigation into the tools and technologies used to create NPCs in video games, continuing Bicknell-Knight’s ongoing investigation into the lack of agency and autonomy experienced by the vast majority of living human beings as they are unable to enact real change around the globe, dominated by higher forces. From the world of finance to the will of corporations, from increasingly pervasive bureaucratic systems to the inertia, greed, and corruption of the political class.

-/-

Bob Bicknell-Knight (b. 1996, Ipswich, UK) is a multidisciplinary artist, curator and writer influenced by surveillance capitalism and responding to internet hyper consumerism, automation and technocratic authoritarianism. Within his practice he harnesses different processes and materials to create both physical and digital artworks, including fabric printing, painting, ceramics, bookmaking, 3D printing technologies and game development software. Key subjects of investigation include our complicity with corporate giants, the sculpting of online identities and the prescient qualities of dystopian science fiction.

 

Bicknell-Knight is also the founder and director of isthisit?, a platform for art that’s specialised mainly in digital art since its creation in May 2016, and has worked with hundreds of artists over the past 6 years. Through the platform he curates online and offline exhibitions, hosts a residency programme and has designed and edited a series of books, focusing on a number of broad themes from contemporary modes of surveillance, fake news and video game culture

 

Selected solo and duo exhibitions include Digging History at INDUSTRA, Brno, Czech Republic (2021); Eat The Rich at Galerie Sono, Paris (2021); It's Always Day One at Office Impart, Berlin (2021); Bit Rot at Broadway Gallery, Letchworth (2020); The Big Four, duo show with Rosa-Maria Nuutinen at Harlesden High Street, London (2019); Wellness, Ltd., duo show with Erin Mitchell at Galerie Manque, New York (2019); State of Affairs at Salon 75, Copenhagen (2019); CACOTOPIA 02 at Annka Kultys Gallery, London (2018); Sunrise Prelude at Dollspace, London (2017) and Are we there yet? at Chelsea College of Art, London (2017).

 

Bicknell-Knight has spoken on panel discussions and given artist talks at Vilnius Academy of Arts, Vilnius, Lithuania (2022); Mezanin, Bucharest, Romania (2021); panke.gallery, Berlin, Germany (2021); Contemporary Calgary, Canada (2020); Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom (2019); University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom (2019); Camberwell College of Arts, London, United Kingdom (2019) and Goldsmiths, University of London, London, United Kingdom (2018).

-/-

Non-Player Character Installation view

1_Non_Player_Character_Install_01_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character Installation view

2_Non_Player_Character_Install_02_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character Installation view

7_Non_Player_Character_Install_09_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character Installation view

6_Non_Player_Character_Install_08_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Do You Have Any Potions? Or Food?, 2022

Ink and acrylic on canvas, plywood, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

21.3 x 34 x 3.5 cm

Unique

11_Do_You_Have_Any_Potions_Or_Food_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Why Buy Tomorrow What You Can Buy Today, 2022

Ink and acrylic on canvas, plywood, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

21.3 x 34 x 3.5 cm

Unique

12_Why_Buy_Tomorrow_What_You_Can_Buy_Today_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Take No Prisoners, 2022

Ink and acrylic on canvas, plywood, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

21.3 x 34 x 3.5 cm

Unique

13_Take_No_Prisoners_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

I Am The Milkman My Milk Is Delicious, 2022

Ink and acrylic on canvas, plywood, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

21.3 x 34 x 3.5 cm

Unique

14_I_Am_The_Milkman_My_Milk_Is_Delicious_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character, 2022

4K video with sound, 3D printed marble PLA plastic, USB drive, USB male to female cable

9 min 38 sec

Commissioned by Petra Szemán using funding from Arts Council England

Edition of 3, 2AP

15_Non_Player_Character_01_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

 

Non-Player Character, 2022

4K video with sound, 3D printed marble PLA plastic, USB drive, USB male to female cable

9 min 38 sec

Commissioned by Petra Szemán using funding from Arts Council England

Edition of 3, 2AP

16_Non_Player_Character_02_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character, 2022

4K video with sound, 3D printed marble PLA plastic, USB drive, USB male to female cable

9 min 38 sec

Commissioned by Petra Szemán using funding from Arts Council England

Edition of 3, 2AP

17_Non_Player_Character_03_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character, 2022

4K video with sound, 3D printed marble PLA plastic, USB drive, USB male to female cable

9 min 38 sec

Commissioned by Petra Szemán using funding from Arts Council England

Edition of 3, 2AP

18_Non_Player_Character_04_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character, 2022

4K video with sound, 3D printed marble PLA plastic, USB drive, USB male to female cable

9 min 38 sec

Commissioned by Petra Szemán using funding from Arts Council England

Edition of 3, 2AP

19_Non_Player_Character_05_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character, 2022

4K video with sound, 3D printed marble PLA plastic, USB drive, USB male to female cable

9 min 38 sec

Commissioned by Petra Szemán using funding from Arts Council England

Edition of 3, 2AP

FFXIII-LR_X360_MONSTER_Anubys_Body_D.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

20_FFXIII-LR_X360_MONSTER_Anubys_Body_D.png_01_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

FFXIII-LR_X360_MONSTER_Anubys_Body_D.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

21_FFXIII-LR_X360_MONSTER_Anubys_Body_D.png_02_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

FFXIII-LR_X360_MONSTER_Anubys_Body_D.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

22_FFXIII-LR_X360_MONSTER_Anubys_Body_D.png_03_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

cis_inf_battledroid.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

23_cis_inf_battledroid.png_01_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

cis_inf_battledroid.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

24_cis_inf_battledroid.png_02_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

cis_inf_battledroid.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

25_cis_inf_battledroid.png_03_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

revenant_head.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

26_revenant_head.png_01_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

revenant_head.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

27_revenant_head.png_02_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

revenant_head.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

28_revenant_head.png_03_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

deathclaw.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

29_deathclaw.png_01_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

deathclaw.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

30_deathclaw.png_02_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

deathclaw.png, 2022

Ink on canvas, plywood, MDF board

47 x 47 x 47 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

31_deathclaw.png_03_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Hey! Listen!, 2022

Ink and acrylic on canvas, plywood, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

21.3 x 34 x 3.5 cm

Unique

32_Hey_Listen_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Almost Makes You Wish For A Nuclear Winter, 2022

Ink and acrylic on canvas, plywood, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

21.3 x 34 x 3.5 cm

Unique

33_Almost_Makes_You_Wish_For_A_Nuclear_Winter_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

He’s Dead, 2022

Ink and acrylic on canvas, plywood, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

21.3 x 34 x 3.5 cm

Unique

34_Hes_Dead_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Pick Up That Can, 2022

Ink and acrylic on canvas, plywood, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

21.3 x 34 x 3.5 cm

Unique

35_Pick_Up_That_Can_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

What’s Your Favourite Thing About Space?, 2022

Ink and acrylic on canvas, plywood, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

21.3 x 34 x 3.5 cm

Unique

36_Whats_Your_Favourite_Thing_About_Space_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Never Should Have Come Here, 2022

Ink and acrylic on canvas, plywood, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

21.3 x 34 x 3.5 cm

Unique

37_Never_Should_Have_Come_Here_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I, 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

38_Vendor_Trash_I_01_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I, 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

39_Vendor_Trash_I_02_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I, 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

40_Vendor_Trash_I_03_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I, 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

41_Vendor_Trash_I_04_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I, 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

42_Vendor_Trash_I_05_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

43_Vendor_Trash_I_06_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

44_Vendor_Trash_I_07_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

45_Vendor_Trash_I_08_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

46_Vendor_Trash_I_09_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

47_Vendor_Trash_I_10_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

48_Vendor_Trash_I_11_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

49_Vendor_Trash_I_12_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

50_Vendor_Trash_I_13_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

51_Vendor_Trash_I_14_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

52_Vendor_Trash_I_15_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash I (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 95 x 58 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

53_Vendor_Trash_I_16_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II, 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

54_Vendor_Trash_II__01_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II, 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

55_Vendor_Trash_II__02_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II, 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

56_Vendor_Trash_II__03_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II, 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

57_Vendor_Trash_II__04_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II, 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

58_Vendor_Trash_II__05_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

59_Vendor_Trash_II_06_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

60_Vendor_Trash_II_07_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

61_Vendor_Trash_II_08_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

62_Vendor_Trash_II_09_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

63_Vendor_Trash_II_10_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

64_Vendor_Trash_II_11_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

65_Vendor_Trash_II_12_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash II (detail), 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, plastic crates

71 x 97 x 95 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

66_Vendor_Trash_II_13_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character Installation view

3_Non_Player_Character_Install_03_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character Installation view

5_Non_Player_Character_Install_05_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character Installation view

68_Non_Player_Character_Install_06_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

I Am Not Afraid, 2022

Ink and acrylic on canvas, plywood, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

21.3 x 34 x 3.5 cm

Unique

67_I_Am_Not_Afraid_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character Installation view

70_Non_Player_Character_Install_07_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Vendor Trash III, 2022

3D printed translucent PLA plastic, 3D printed marble PLA plastic

39.5 x 18.5 x 9.8 cm

Edition of 3, 1AP

69_Vendor_Trash_III_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character Installation view

8_Non_Player_Character_Install_10_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Non-Player Character Installation view

9_Non_Player_Character_Install_11_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Gone But Not Forgotten, 2022

Interactive video game environment

Dimensions variable

Edition of 3, 2AP

10_Non_Player_Character_Install_12_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Gone But Not Forgotten, 2022

Interactive video game environment

Dimensions variable

Edition of 3, 2AP

71_Gone_But_Not_Forgotten_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Gone But Not Forgotten, 2022

Interactive video game environment

Dimensions variable

Edition of 3, 2AP

72_Gone_But_Not_Forgotten_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg