Video Games as Art?

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2009 at 7:03 pm

If you grew up during the ’80s and / or ’90s, you probably spent a good portion of your childhood playing Nintendo (or at least hearing peers talk endlessly about their adventures in Mario and Luigi Land). While the original Nintendo, complete with games containing crudely designed 2D backgrounds and repetitive muzak, could hardly be considered “art” by most – discussion about categorizing video games as art is one that both cultural commentators and video gamers have had for the past three decades.

Mirroring advancements in technology, video game systems and the games themselves have become more visually (and musically) stimulating. Thus, it’s unrealistic (and misleading) to say that the design and creation of video games have nothing to do with art. In fact, video games seem to fit artistic definitions and guidelines quite accurately – as they express their subjects in creative ways that vary from fancifully abstract to three-dimensionally realistic.

 While critics like Jack Knoll disagree with notions that consider video games as art, the debate continues. As a recent article from the Guardian notes,

The fact that a growing number of artists are turning to videogames as a form of expression also hints at the fact that these things are not just daft little diversions with no inherent aesthetic value. The likes of Riley Harmon, Alison Mealey and Wafaa Bilal have all used videogame graphics, interfaces and/or tropes in their work, trading not only on the visual imagery and accepted conventions of games, but also their inherent meanings.

Thus, New York artist Cory Arcangel (who created one of the most famous works of hack art called Super Mario Clouds) is curating a fascinating exhibit at London’s Lisson Gallery. The artist, known for his hacking and subsequent alterations of Nintendo games during the 1990s, has worked with video art and continues to create “videogame art.” He and his contemporaries are pushing for game culture to be included in the realm of contemporary art.

To read more about Arcangel, the video game as art phenomenon, and the entire article associated with this story, click here.

To see Arcangel’s “Super Mario Clouds,” click here.


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