Video Games as Art

18 December 2012 on Uncategorized by admin

Post by Tim Roseborough


I cavalierly dismiss the argument that video games are not Art. As they evolve, in fact, video games will prove to be one of the highest forms of contemporary cultural expression, despite commercial intents or the fact that they often rely on the collective efforts of a multitude of talents.
My interactive installation, "CYMN" seeks to sidestep the dominant "Are Video Games Art?" debate by posing the inverse question: Can an interaction with art assume the characteristics of a game?
I am drawn to the look of a simply "framed" artwork: paintings, prints, photographs, videos and other media allowed to live and breathe on the expanse of a clean wall. At the same time, part of my art practice is concerned with pushing art towards an increased contemporary emphasis on making the "viewer" a more active part of the work. With CYMN, I challenged myself to make the "art on the wall" experience more interactive.
The title of the work is a play on "Simon," the name of the 1980s table top game that serves as inspiration, as well as a nod to the color scheme of the piece: cyan, yellow and magenta.
I expanded the original game-playing environment using touch screens stationed around an environment. The player must memorize a sound and light pattern related by these screens and touch each in the same sequence. The length of the sequence increases as the game progresses.
The installation is composed of three industry-standard touch screen monitors mounted to stainless steel stands. The touch instruments are synched to a custom application that recalls the game play of the original "Simon."
I feel that the paradigms of play in the context of art are a logical progression from what is termed "relational aesthetics:" artwork in which viewer assumes the role of participant; taking a more active role in the artistic experience.
CYMN is my artistic tribute to an icon in the history of electronic gaming, reinventing the spirit of the game by introducing it to the context of contemporary art. With CYMN, I seek to make play an aesthetic experience.

  • Hanna Regev
    1912 days ago - Reply

    The Museum of Moving Images has just announced that the museum gallery will honor the 50th anniversary of the pioneering digital video game, Spacewar. Last year, the National Endowment for the Arts, in accepting grants for art projects for 2012, expanded the allowable projects to include “interactive games”, furthering the recognition of video games as an art form. With MoMA acquiring a set of 14-video games to add to its collection with a plan to display them in its Philip Johnson Galleries in 2013, we can put this controversy to rest.

    Roseborough’s CYMN in “The Future Imagined: What’s Next?” pushes the ongoing debate of by stating unequivocally in his blog “Video games are art.”

    The work successfully demonstrates that video game can be art by merging art and technology. By resurrecting the “classic” Simon game based on the traditional color wheel of green, blue, red, and yellow, he updates Joseph Alberts’ traditional color chart to reflect today’s digital technology with cyan, magenta, yellow. These with black and white work with digital color printing systems.

    Just as the old Simon game, CYMN keeps the element of memory challenge with a subtle nod to today’s distraction and information overload to plant the question that we all wrestle with. “Is technology replacing the human capacity for memory?”

    By now we have accepted that fact that much of our collective memory resides in technology (capturing, storing, retrieving and preserving); however, puts doubts in our minds for none give us assurances or are full proof. The future is ripe and open to a serious field of memory studies research and consideration for the preservation of our culture.

    By acquiring video games, MoMA has devised a blueprint for selecting videos. The MoMA criteria emphasize not only the visual quality and aesthetic experience of the games, but the elegance of the code to the design of the player’s behavior—that pertain to interaction design.

    Are video games art? They sure are, but they are also design, and a design
    approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe. The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design—a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity.

    Watching the immersion and engagement of the audience, CYMN meets MoMA’s new standards and the march towards full acceptance of video games as art has just been narrowed.

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