Total Refusal is a pseudo-marxist media guerilla focused on the artistic intervention and appropriation of mainstream video games. We upcycle video games in order to reveal the political apparatus beyond the glossy and hyperreal textures of this media.
It's an ordinary day in Grand Theft Auto V. And yet, the car-crowded streets are marked by a grave absence. Searching for clues, protagonist Edgar explores the uncanniness of his normality and rediscovers a beautiful yet nightmarish world.
Club Stahlbad takes a stab at the dysfunctionality of the established spaces of entertainment, where “fun” is obligatory as a ritualized counterpart to “labor” - subordinating both work and “free time” to the logics of capital accumulation.
Cooking & Culling is a live ingame lecture performance dealing with economic developments related to the service sector and the economy of attention, viewed through the frame of TV cooking shows.
NPCs are digital Sisyphus machines that have no perspective of breaking out of their activity loops. In the moments when the algorithm shows inconsistencies, the NPCs break out of the logic of total normality, and appear touchingly human.
Dark Tourism in the Mud of Market Garden
In Flowers don´t care Total Refusal explores the indestructible nature of the flora in three different war video game environments.
Everything started with a utopia. To end the antagonism between the oppressors and the oppressed, between the owners and the own-nothings. To create a society that would be truly free, equal and solidaric.
For the duration of one week, video game avatar and NPCs are transformed into social media influencers. Their profiles are created in multiple social media channels such as Tinder, Instagram, Zoom, Twitch and TicToc.
Washed away from their alpine pastures, cows pass the riverbanks of Graz, floating in the stream as buoys of industrialized livestock.
The constructedness of the digital firmament becomes visible and points of contact between late capitalists, conspiracy theorist and romanticist world experience open up.
A Crash Course in Class Analysis through St. Denis
Total Refusal meets with filmmaker and artist Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis in Los Santos, the digital city landscape of video game GTA V, to go on an art tour through the game world and discuss the concept of hyperrealism in capitalist media.
An anti-war movie in the true sense of the word, How to Disappear searches for possibilities of peace in the most unlikely place of an online war game. It’s a tribute to disobedience and desertion - in both digital and physical-real warfare.
As part of the digital scenery, playgrounds are not really usable in shooter games. They document different attempts to interact with the dysfunctional objects, showing how difficult it is to actually play within a video game.
"My character was disconnected, not my brain. " (User “not-a-jedi-yet” on reddit.com)
A pacifist finger exercise
The video shows how a rough cuboid modeled out of the bullets of shooter game.
A city through through the architecture of an online shooter game.
"Wow, whats over this side? Ah, isn't this landscape just beautiful? Wow, this place is perfect! Alright, I'm staying here, don't care, I'm staying here. Haaaaaaaaa!"
JOY visualises the desire to be scared and the joy of watching people being scared while playing horror games.
For the earth to live,
capitalism needs to die <3
The pseudo-marxist media guerilla Total Refusal explores and practices strategies for artistic intervention in contemporary computer games. It works with tools of appropriation and rededication of game resources.
Since its foundation in 2018 the collective has been awarded with numerous prizes like the Diagonale Film Award for the Best Short Doc, the Contemporary Visual Arts Award of Styria Province and Vimeo Staff Pick Award among others. Total Refusal has been screened at more than 130 film and video festivals like Berlinale (2020), Doc Fortnight at MOMA New York and IDFA Amsterdam (2018) and they been exhibited at various exhibition spaces like the Architecture Biennial Venice 2021, the HEK Basel (2020) and the Ars Electronica Linz (2019).
Philosopher, media culture researcher, builder, designer,
former competitive gamer
*1987 in Graz, lives in Vienna
Artist & game theorist, studied Visual- and Media Art in Linz, Leipzig and Vienna and is a PHD candidate in Cultural Studies
* 1988 in Graz
Artist, illustrator & cultural anthropologist, board member of Forum Stadtpark in Graz
*1993 in Stuttgart, lives in Vienna
Artist & filmmaker, studied at the Nordland College of Art and Film in Lofoten, Norway.
*1991 Vienna, lives in Vienna
Artist, musician, editor at MALMOE Zeitung, programmer for film series on politics of remembrance (Filmclub Tacheles, JFW)
* 1988 in Graz
Video artist, exploring the relationship of the body to its technologically mediated environment. Lives and works in Vienna