Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Every Day Art of Video Games

First, I wish I had had the presence of mind to title my previous post "I Never Promised You a Moongate Garden." It is an oppuntunity forever missed. Also, I forgot to use the Video Games label in the last post. See what I mean by I am a bad blogger?

Speaking of which, another benefit of video games is that they let you see the world in a completely different world. For example, the Smithsonian is asking us: "Are video games art?" My first instinct is to say yes.

But, instead, let me say that video games have inspired art at the Hirshhorn and Smithsonian sculpture gardens before this new exhibit even existed. Below is a photo essay demonstrating my point.

First, is a modern artist's interpretation of a Zergling. It is modern art, so, you know, you kind of have to just trust it is what they say it is.

A Zergling at the Hirshhorn. (Photos by Matt Sablan)
Next, we have Chomp, In His Dotage. Notice how the artist has captured both the freedom that comes with old age with the infirmities. Chomp, though free from his chain, is only a shadow of his former self, without teeth to bite or eyes to see his way through his advanced age.
Chomp, in his dotage.
In less abstract art, we have an artist at the sculpture garden by the fountain reminding us of Q-Bert. Devoid of enemies, power-ups or the player, this stark, and empty Q-Bert board reminds us of the clean slate with which we start life, and how the world continues to exist with or without any input from us, the players of life.
Tabula Q-Bert-asa.
Finally, in showing how the part is reminiscent of the whole, we have this famous piece. Ladders extending forever into the sky at angles. This helps us recall a time when our princess was not in another castle and where it was simply man against pre-man, as we must forever reach skyward and look up to overcome the inner animal within us all. In truth, those were simian simpler times.
Young Plumber's Ladder.
And that was the video game art I saw just on my way to the exhibit. Imagine what was in store once I actually got there. Unfortunately, as you can probably tell by the radically different places I found these pieces at, I got a little lost. Luckily, I had an amazingly useful tool to help point me in the right direction.
You can see my notes!
So, very soon, I was turned around and going in the right direction. In front of the American Art and Portraiture Gallery, I soon was. On the way there, I found this nifty little ad for the exhibit. And, since I obsessively take pictures, I took a picture. Sometime during the next week, we'll actually get inside!
Note the dates! Through Sept. 30, 2012!

I had an internal debate as to the order of the photos. I settled on this presentation because I thought the Zergling photo was strong, but the commentary was weak. I knew I wanted to close with the Mario one, as I felt it was the strongest. I did not want two Mario jokes next to each other. Opening with Chomp seemed bad too, which left either Q-Bert or Zergling. I decided that starting with the Zergling made it look like we would be doing a "Modern Art is bad" bit, which was not the intended direction. I combined the weak joke with a curve ball to set up the slightly more in-depth fauxnalysis of the other photos.

Now I have explained to you how my mind processes attempts at comedy. Hopefully, I have not ruined it for you. Also, I love this post because I can talk about art, Clerks (the animated series), good music and video games all in one place. Wait, you missed the Clerks reference? Mouse over text, stat!

Also: Look at something that there are pretty paintings of. Maybe I'll go there some day.
The bike adds something to the picture. Not sure what though.

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