Visual Research for "Emerald Room"



I had the idea to do a casino piece before I took two weeks of holidays and another week of being sick with Covid, so I was thinking about it a bit too much. I went to two Casinos to conduct "visual research" for this piece. The first was in downtown Vancouver and I lost something like $30 on slots. The second was in Regina and I won $20 at roulette. Slots are really a terrible way to gamble and totally indicative of our cultural moment. When you gamble at a table you're invloved in a social activity, often one where share in celebrations, commiserate etc. Theres a visual weight to everything and most exciting of all, theres room for human error. Anything can happen! But it's much easy to play a slot. You walk right up to it and sometimes get to watch a little animation of some diamonds lighting up or whatever. You are an atomized individual in front of a screen (as usual). The odds are terrible and the wins feel weightless, theres just a little number going up and down. When I went into Casino Regina I was horrified to see that the roulette table was now mostly played by people at litte stations with screens and a live feed of the roulette wheel that was about ten feet away from them. Everyone was just looking at the little screen! Including me. What is going on? Can't we just stand up and walk over to the actual wheel and watch that? Where is this romantic ideal of a casino? In gambling anything really can happen. If it can happen at all that means it can happen to me! What type of person does that possibility attract? Wouldn't that be great to be in a sort of backroom casino.