A satirical and subversive Polish artist and illustrator Pawel Kuczynski has painted a picture which strikes back against the current phenomenon of Pokémon Go.
The painting which has the caption ‘Control’ depicts a teenage gamer, with a Pikachu (one of the main characters in the Pokémon Go series) perched on his neck, sitting on a saddle with reins coming from the boy’s mouth as he is zoned out while looking at his phone.
Pokémon Go is the latest trend to hit smartphone users. Launched on 8th July It is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic for iOSand Android devices.
In the game, players use a mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player.
Players must physically travel to explore the game’s map and visit PokéStops (the smaller circular (purple, visited) or cube (blue) icons, depending on proximity) and gyms (the one large tower shown).
It has been launched to astonishing success. Pokémon Go has become the fastest game to go to the top of the App Store and Google Play, beating the previous winner Clash Royale. According to Similar Web within two days of its release it was installed on more than 5% of all Android devices in the United States.
On August 8, 2016, Pokémon Go reached the milestone of over 100 million downloads on Google Play alone after barely 33 days on the market.
Although the game is free to play, users can purchase add-ons which extend the game, and give users more options. And the add on purchases are certainly adding up for the game’s creators, it was reported than first month sales totaled over $200 m US dollars.
It has become a phenomenon, but one that is not without criticism. The company has attracted criticism for sending its gamers, so that they can ‘capture Pokémon’, to public sites. Some of these public sites have been museums and cemeteries with many feeling these are not suitable sites to send hordes of obsessed gamers.
Kuczynski is an artist that uses his paintings to rail against inequalities and injustices in the modern world.
He has attacked the power that social media and trends play in our modern world and is known for his anti-authoritarian stance and much of his work reflects his politics and his world view.
Previous paintings of his have taken aim at companies like Facebook which he suggests are ever encroaching into our privacy.
Karolina Prymlewicz, curator of the Museum of Caricature and Cartoon Art in Warsaw, calls Kuczynski “deeply involved and uncompromising in his political judgments and social diagnoses. He exploits the aesthetics of surrealism, makes skillful use of visual metaphors… and black humor is definitely his element.”
His attack on the Pokemon phenomena appears itself to be a viral hit. His Facebook page, which he still uses despite his criticism of the company, garnered more than 30 million views and half a million likes and shares from his page alone.