power+up

55 Meadow Street
Brooklyn
APRIL 16, 2013

 

KEYWORDS: ALL YOUR BEETS ARE BELONG TO US

 

Just around the corner from Third Ward in Bushwick is a warehouse, like most warehouses in Brooklyn, that might have actually been used for manufacturing something other than an experience. Now this former factory is the strange performance/ eat/art/party space Power+UP, where diners wander through the various floors finding food for themselves, like characters in a video game. The interior is painted in blocks and polygons of color, entire fictional landscapes. An icy, arctic level with igloos and pixelated penguins; a copper-and-rivet-dungeon with sparks and flames and little rooster-like dragons; a hilly landscape with a blue sky full of clouds. Hallways are dimly-lit and there are strips of luminescent tape to assist, a bit like the game-grid from Tron—which if you are not aware, is at least one movie where Jeff Bridges is good with a computer.

Food in videogames is traditionally eaten in the middle of battle or while moving. Thankfully, this is a detail that has been omitted. Also, participants routinely find something and then offer it to someone else, something unprecedented in the narrative of most video games. “Roasted beet and parsnip salad?” a family of three asked as a child dressed like Link from Legend of Zelda frowned. Link never struck me as much of an eater.

As for my own discoveries, I found a Brooklyn Lager hidden among a row of cardboard boxes all marked “?!”; a lemon tart inside a paper maché gargoyle that I destroyed with a whiffleball bat; a box of warm biscuits offered from a six-foot cardboard robot, who I also destroyed with the same bat before someone asked me not to; a roasted chicken which was hidden behind a brick wall; and a loaf of anadama bread that someone left on a platter in the middle of a hallway.

Despite the fact that I am ordinarily terrible at videogames, my pants now no longer fit me. Why was I good at this and no other game, video or otherwise? Perhaps it's because you cannot smell food in a video game. If there was such thing as a Wii for your nose, I would be some sort of Wii Nose Champion.

Regardless of how well you do on the scavenger hunt, the final top level has table service, menus, and you can easily bypass the whole experience by taking the elevator. I might recommend this for those who may not wish to be humbled by the bounty that other players have found throughout Power+UP. Especially if I show up hungry.

 

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