Looking at video games as art

Nov 8, 2013

A new exhibition at the Everson Museum examines the 40 year evolution of video games as an art form. The unusual exhibit showcases the technology, culture and the different traditional types of art in video games.

The sounds of an arcade echo throughout the galleries of the Everson Museum. From Atari's Space Invaders to the immersive environment of Playstation 3's Flower, where the player is the wind, "The Art of Video Games" features 80 games that tell the history of the medium.

Executive Director of the Everson Museum Steven Kern says this exhibition not only engages new and intergenerational audiences, it shows why art is innovative and belongs in a school's core curriculum.

"Is this really art? Of course this is art,” said Kern. “The narrow, limited version that only a painting or a sculpture is something that is valid, it betrays the roots of our own institution. And with video games specifically it's not just about the visual arts, it's about this confluence of visual arts of performance of music of technology."

Chris Melissinos is the guest curator of the exhibition which is on a ten-city national tour and opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum last year.

He chose five games from different eras, which visitors can play, that changed the perception of video games by the public and designers. Pac-Man, Melissinos says, came into arcades when games were mainly about annihilation and xenophobia.

"Along comes this candy colored, brightly animated, loud game with these funny characters on it. Now you have women coming into arcades. Now you have children being able to compete against adults because they're on equal footing," said Melissinos.

Along with the exhibition, the Landmark Theater is presenting “Video Games Live,” which brings the music of video games to life with a full orchestra in collaboration with central New York's symphony, Symphoria.

Catherine Underhill is the managing director of Symphoria and says the concert will include projections, lasers and a chorus.

"This is likely to attract people that maybe haven't experienced any of these cultural resources. We're quite excited about the opportunity to introduce ourselves to a new audience," said Underhill.

Video Games Live is being performed at the Landmark Theater Saturday evening. The exhibition at the Everson runs until January 19th.