Game Boy Chang.png
Image: Rutherford Chang

Conceptual and performance artists find meaning - or try to - in the unlikeliest of places, often taking mundane or obsessive aspects of life and applying an artistic different vision. One artist doing this is Rutherford Chang, who's based in New York and has previous works that include taking news articles and alphabetising them, with the goal of highlighting the language used. One of his ongoing projects also relates to Tetris on the Game Boy; he's trying to set the world record.

So far Rutherford has the second highest score of all time - 614,094 - which places him above Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and chasing Uli Horner's record of 748,757. For Rutherford, though, playing and recording over 1500 attempts has an artistic purpose - he sees Tetris and his attempts at the record as a metaphor for capitalism.

...We're expected to repeat a specific task over and over and strive to be number one in our fields. It's the way capitalism makes us work, where you have to achieve more than others. It's endless, and it's for everyone.

You can play what feels like a great game, but your score might not be impressive. Or you can lose based on one tiny mistake.

Every 10 lines you complete, you advance one level and the pieces fall faster. Eventually they fall so fast that you can't keep up and you die. You can't ever beat the game. It's about squeezing in as much perfection as possible in this limited time before your inevitable death.

We admire Rutherford's commitment, even if we don't exactly buy into the perspective he's trying to share - Tetris may be merely a simple puzzle game from an era of endless score chasers, after all.

In any case, the artist will be live streaming his efforts to finally conquer the world record on 10th January, as part of a collaboration with Real Live Online. Until then you can see him set the second highest score of all time below.