Dec 17th 2010 By Dan Solomon
For most of us, the closest we've been able to come to realizing the shared dream of all global culture enthusiasts -- actually inhabiting a "Super Mario Bros
." world -- has been to don a hat, overalls and a mustache, then go looking for turtles to kick in a park somewhere. For Beth Olson and the other members of her Art and Social Practices project at Portland State University
, that just wasn't good enough. Enter: The 8-bit hallway.
"Our idea was to create an interactive life-sized 8-bit style level for people to play with," Olson says, and she and the group picked Mario for the same reason any of us would have. "There is just something about 'Super Mario Bros.' that everyone seems to relate to, even if they never really played it as a kid. Even people who are in a hurry or have arms full of books instantly found themselves jumping goombahs and making beep-beep-boop sounds the whole way down the hall."
In the end, they placed bricks and blocks down the hall, accompanied by goombah, koopa troopers, and mushrooms, as well as coins on the staircase and a big green pipe at the elevator -- plus, naturally, a castle at the end. (Reports that the group was grateful to Mario, but were forced to regretfully inform him that the Princess was being held in another castle, were unconfirmed at press time.)
Keep reading to see more pictures from this amazing project.
The project was intended to be short-lived, according to Olson, since she and her team did it as "sort of a renegade operation" -- meaning they didn't have the permission of the school or the fire marshal. But even though the majority of the project only lasted for a few hours, certain elements, like the pipe on the elevator and the castle, remained for over two months.
Ultimately, Olson says, the project was rewarding for one reason we can all relate to: "As designers," she says, "we're really just a huge bunch of geeks."