The digital emerges as military, but achieves acceptance as entertainment. The military versions of digital telesthesia make the world over as a military space, but the digital does not yet become a culture other than for a small band of specialists tied to the military industrial complex. The coming together of the digital and the entertainment commodity inscribes the digital not just in space and time, but in cultural perceptions of space and time.
The digital game is a very particular commodity. It is not just the usual store of entertaining representations transferred from analog and mechanical reproduction to a digital platform. Rather, it makes the digital itself into entertainment. The digital object always addresses its subject as a player, as a calculator and competitor. The digital inscribes topology within the subject itself. It makes the uploading of the world into topology seem natural and inevitable. And it offers the digital in its purest form, where the transformation of analog into digital is always consistent, repeatable, in a word — fair.
The digital makes the analog appear as something distinct. The digital rules a line between analog and digital, making their difference into a distinction. But perhaps, having made the distinction appear, the perspective can be reversed, and the digital can be perceived from the point of view of the analog. What might emerge is rather the play between the analog and the digital. The digital might become again the threshold that turns a movement into a break, rather than imposing the break on movement.
“I don’t play games”, says Keita Takahashi, designer of Katamari Damacy. He is a sculptor. “I am happy going through this game phase of my life, where I can get paid and eat.” As the digital subsumes the analog so too the designer subsumes the artist. The longing to return to art as an analog pursuit may be in vain. But the artist within the designer may still inscribe the analog in the heart of the digital as something irreducible.
King Digital may rule in Katamari Damacy, but it is his subordinate, the Prince, upon whose labors this digital topology is built. Not the least of the charms of Takahashi’s work is this foregrounding of the labor the gamer performs. It is no longer labor as punishment for defying the Gods. It is no longer absurd labor, performed consciously and joyously in spite of the absence of the Gods. Topology installs, in place of the absent Gods, King Digital, and his demand that, while labor is punishingly hard and absurdly pointless, it nevertheless has its measure. Sisyphus, the Analog Prince, labors to roll up everything in this world make over under the mark of the digital and offer it up for appraisal. What the digital has always wanted — to be the form of all forms — has come to pass. Our punishment for attempting to steal those forms for our own purposes is to labor endlessly to repeat them. Katamari Damacy merely extends the atopia of the digital to the heavens themselves.