Donna Reidland Bourret
(American, b. 1950)
Suite of ten photographs, 1995
Digitally Altered Type C Photographs
In this series of ten photographs, the Houston-based artist Donna Reidland Bourret inserts herself into early video game scenes as a low-fidelity avatar assuming multiple identities throughout the images. Titles—including Self-Portrait as Judge; Self-Portrait as Queen, Jack and King, from Eric’s Solitaire; Self-Portrait as Pharaoh, from Civilization; It’s Just a Simulation, from Star Trek: 25th Anniversary; Self-Portrait Prince, from The Prince of Persia II; Self-Portrait as Boxer, from 4-D Boxing; and Self-Portrait as Sumo Wrestler, from Sumo: A Futuristic Version of the Ancient Sport—also reference the artist’s fascination not only with the merging video game culture but also with role playing and with the merging of Eastern and Western imagery and culture: both of which are ubiquitous aspects of contemporary video gaming culture. Additionally, prints from the series offer a rare glimpse of the bygone user experience of the original Apple Macintosh, introduced to the market in 1984 and phased out in the late 1990s. The computer’s now vintage desktop design frames Reidland Bourret’s imagined scenes while serving as the compositional device which unifies the series. Much like Charles Wiese’s Rules of the Game works from 1995, also on view at the College of Technology Building, Reidland Bourret’s photographs may appear crude by today’s standards yet they were created at a pivotal time in the development of digital photography. In the early to mid-1990s, software and hardware to create these images was becoming more available to professionals. She was among the first to adopt these tools for purely artistic means, pioneering what was then the emerging field of digital art production with minimal historical context.
University of Houston at Sugar Land
College of Technology Building, 2nd floor