Slug Frog Snake

HD Video; Duration 00:05:14:00

This work shows the playing of a game of ‘Mushi-ken’, the oldest Japanese example of type of hand game — using three gestures — popular in East Asia. A version of this — Paper Scissors Stone — was introduced into the West in the twentieth century.

The three gestures in ‘Mushi-ken’ represent Slug, Frog, and Snake, represented by the little finger, the thumb, and the index finger, respectively. The ‘frog’ defeats the ‘slug’, while the ‘slug’ defeats the ‘snake’; the ‘snake’, in turn, defeats the ‘frog’. Although the game was originally imported from China, one of the animals differs from the original: it seems that the characters for the ‘Poisonous centipede’ in the Chinese were mistaken for those of the ‘slug’.

The videos show the artist playing a game against himself. There was no ‘score’ for the gestures, and no set rhythm for each play, and so the gestures fall in and out of synch with one another. The two videos are also of a different duration, and loop, and so this also alters the relationship between each set of gestures.