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"The Art of Video Games" at the Smithsonian American Art Museum - 2012

cRIPticon

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Hello fellow Gaffers.

I wanted to point your attention towards an exhibit that I am going to be creating, and curating, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in March of 2012. From the Smithsonian website:

http://www.americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/games/

The Art of Video Games
March 16, 2012 – September 9, 2012

Video games have grown to become a significant part of our culture since the introduction of the first home video games in the early 1970s. More than seventy percent of American households play video games on a regular basis, and many families now have two generations of computer users, and gamers, at home.

Video games use images, actions, and player participation to tell stories and engage their audiences. In the same way as film, animation, and performance, they can be considered a compelling and influential form of narrative art.

Many museums have explored art inspired by video games, but this exhibition will be the first to examine comprehensively the evolution of video games themselves as an artistic medium. From the Atari VCS to the Playstation 3, The Art of Video Games will show the development of visual effects and aesthetics during four decades, the emergence of games as a means for storytelling, the influence of world events and popular culture on game development, and the impact that the games can have on society. It will include multimedia presentations of game footage, video interviews with developers and artists, large prints of in-game screen shots, historic game consoles, and a selection of working game systems for visitors to play. In addition, the public will be asked to assist with the selection of materials for the show by choosing the games that they feel best represent particular moments in the overall timeline.

Chris Melissinos, video game industry expert and founder of PastPixels, is the guest curator of the exhibition.



I started gaming back in the early 1970's and have never stopped. As someone who collects (47+ systems at home), works in the video games industry, and raising my own kids as gamers, it was important to me to see that this exhibit was created. I should also mention the amazing staff at the SI who green lit the project and will be working on this exhibit with me.

There will be more info as we get into the meat of this project, as we are just getting started. You can visit PastPixels.com or my Facebook page (PastPixels), starting in January/February 2010 to keep up with the work. Not TOO many details, mind you, as we want SOME of this to be a surprise :)

It is humbling to realize that we are going to finally have the opportunity to bring into focus the amazing works of the video game industry through the prestigious lens of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. More to come!
 

John

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In addition, the public will be asked to assist with the selection of materials for the show by choosing the games that they feel best represent particular moments in the overall timeline.
Only do this if you want the exhibit kicked out by the first week.
 

Leunam

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Dec 5, 2008
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In addition, the public will be asked to assist with the selection of materials for the show by choosing the games that they feel best represent particular moments in the overall timeline.
Cue the fanboys.
 

bernardobri

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Looks promising, and very interesting.

Godspeed, my good man.
 

cRIPticon

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Leunam said:
Cue the fanboys.
Well, it won't (can't) be a blank slate as it has to fit into the theme of the exhibit. However, the public will be able to vote on the games out of the selections provided that they feel best represents each category. That's all I can say about it at the moment :)

bernardobri said:
Looks promising, and very interesting.

Godspeed, my good man.
Thank you, good sir!
 

JWong

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The entire place filled with PS2 playable stations of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.
 

John

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cRIPticon said:
Well, it won't (can't) be a blank slate as it has to fit into the theme of the exhibit. However, the public will be able to vote on the games out of the selections provided that they feel best represents each category. That's all I can say about it at the moment :)
I would seriously consider only inviting developers to offer their opinions on the games to be presented. "Educated opinions," you could say.

This is a pretty big step.
 

cRIPticon

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John said:
I would seriously consider only inviting developers to offer their opinions on the games to be presented. "Educated opinions," you could say.

This is a pretty big step, though, and I'm looking forward to it. Not looking forward to the big lines it'll attract.
Point noted. However, the developers are game players too. If Gaf has proven anything, it's that we are a passionate bunch who love the medium, and those voices are valid as well. Again, it won't be a free-for-all, but I am seeking to have game players voices represented and reflected in the exhibit.

Yeah, hope the lines will be long as well :)
 

batbeg

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That would be absolutely awesome to see. I've often been interested in seeing the approaches to gaming as a serious independant art form
and SotC's rightful position at its peak
. Awesome you're getting to do this too, of course. Best of luck.
 

FtsH

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if there is no earthquake or any other major disaster at that time, i will go.
 

AndyD

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JWong said:
The entire place filled with PS2 playable stations of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.
Hopefully HD remastered versions.

Good luck, this is a huge undertaking and hopefully it will help bring games as more of a mainstream cultural aspect and not be looked at as niche.
 

grandjedi6

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Feb 22, 2007
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In addition, the public will be asked to assist with the selection of materials for the show by choosing the games that they feel best represent particular moments in the overall timeline.
So only console games made since 1992 will be included?
 

Ardorx

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Jun 24, 2009
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JWong said:
The entire place filled with PS2 playable stations of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.

And that's how you ruin it. Maybe you should add braid and have the portal song playing on loop.
 

Leunam

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cRIPticon said:
Well, it won't (can't) be a blank slate as it has to fit into the theme of the exhibit. However, the public will be able to vote on the games out of the selections provided that they feel best represents each category. That's all I can say about it at the moment :)
I assumed as much. I just imagine you'll be flooded with requests that obviously won't be suitable.

Best of luck.
 

Vinci

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Ardorx said:
And that's how you ruin it. Maybe you should add braid and have the portal song playing on loop.
To be fair, that would be massively better than having life-sized Sephiroth and Cloud statues on some raised pedestal, allowing fans to finally have an altar they didn't have to build themselves.

Stalfos said:
Isn't it a little early to tell us about an exhibition that is 2.5 years away?
Museums typically organize their exhibitions years in advance due to all sorts of legal issues that have to be dealt with. In all honesty, if they're wanting to do an exhibition of this sort, they're going to need permission from a LOT of companies.
 

cRIPticon

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Vinci said:
To be fair, that would be massively better than having life-sized Sephiroth and Cloud statues on some raised pedestal, allowing fans to finally have an altar they didn't have to build themselves.
You makes me spits out me coffee. :lol :lol

Museums typically organize their exhibitions years in advance due to all sorts of legal issues that have to be dealt with. In all honesty, if they're wanting to do an exhibition of this sort, they're going to need permission from a LOT of companies.
Precisely.
 

oracrest

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I would love to see an exhibit that focuses on the artistic end of interactivity, and not simply "Here are some games that have good art IN them."

Almost every "Art of games..." book/magazine I come across just shows off good aesthetic imagery, but never touches upon the actual GAMING side of gaming.

Is your exhibit looking to be more of a focus on gaming itself as an artform?

Awesome that the Smithsonian is doing this.
 

AndyD

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Jan 24, 2007
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I hope to see maybe evolution in art styles for the same genre, or series. Say evolution of Mario looks or Final Fantasy characters.

Also, interviews with actual artists and how they achieve the goals set by the game designers as a whole.

How various artists work together with sound guys and music compsers with writers to achieve a whole product which can be in itself a piece of art. Also how similar are the processes to producing a movie?
 

Shig

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I'd suggest having Cubello (WiiWare) as one of the playable games. It's simple, condusive to quick play sessions, and quite artsy visually.

Barring that, you should request a clean, credit-less version of the credit sequence and/or the pre-round "building" sequences to put on a looped video somewhere in the exhibit. Very visually arresting. I'm sure Nintendo would be pretty amenable to the request, considering it's for an installation at the friggin' Smithsonian.
 

cRIPticon

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oracrest said:
I would love to see an exhibit that focuses on the artistic end of interactivity, and not simply "Here are some games that have good art IN them."

Almost every "Art of games..." book/magazine I come across just shows off good aesthetic imagery, but never touches upon the actual GAMING side of gaming.

Is your exhibit looking to be more of a focus on gaming itself as an artform?

Awesome that the Smithsonian is doing this.
Agreed. Plenty of exhibits about "look how pretty this is" in gaming. This iwll be the first of its kind that examines how the art and story that developers can express changes due to progression in technology, social influence, etc. How genres evolve over time, etc.

And, yeah. It took 10 months of work to convince them to do this and the team at the museum is really supportive of this. It has taken a ton of work just to get to this point, but I am excited about the opportunity to help further legitimize the amazing work of the video games industry.
 

Stalfos

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Vinci said:
Museums typically organize their exhibitions years in advance due to all sorts of legal issues that have to be dealt with. In all honesty, if they're wanting to do an exhibition of this sort, they're going to need permission from a LOT of companies.
Fair enough, but as a museumgoer, I'm more interested in whats in the near future. It really does me no good to know about the exhibit 2.5 years in advance. I currently live in DC so when I first saw the thread I didn't notice the date and I thought I would make a point of checking it out. However, with it being 2.5 years away I'll have moved elsewhere and I know I won't be seeing the exhibition. I think its a great idea and if it was going to be in the near future I'd go to it but as it stands I'm not quite sure what the point of bringing it to our attention right now is, unless its more to make the developers and such that might be on the board aware that their might be a chance for them to exhibit their work. Or if its to get suggestions on what people would like to see then that makes sense as well, but I didn't get that from the OP.
 

ahoyhoy

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An awesome idea I would love to see to fruition would be to line up all 5 of the major Nintendo consoles, NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, and Wii, each with the major Mario title being playable on it in order to show the "progression" of both one of the most beloved gaming franchise's for casual game players and adults who might remember playing Super Mario Bros. on their NES growing up but have since ignored gaming. I think you should have 2 NES's and 2 Wii's so you can have Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii at the very end to put everything in perspective.

Above all else, if given the choice to make things playable or unplayable, please, tend towards the latter. Even if people don't want to play, they will get a kick out of watching other people play. It happens like clockwork: seeing other people really enjoying themselves with a game draws curiosity and leads to conversion.

Stalfos said:
Fair enough, but as a museumgoer, I'm more interested in whats in the near future. It really does me no good to know about the exhibit 2.5 years in advance. I currently live in DC so when I first saw the thread I didn't notice the date and I thought I would make a point of checking it out. However, with it being 2.5 years away I'll have moved elsewhere and I know I won't be seeing the exhibition. I think its a great idea and if it was going to be in the near future I'd go to it but as it stands I'm not quite sure what the point of bringing it to our attention right now is, unless its more to make the developers and such that might be on the board aware that their might be a chance for them to exhibit their work. Or if its to get suggestions on what people would like to see then that makes sense as well, but I didn't get that from the OP.
The thread is probably more for what you propose in the last sentence. Even if he doesn't go out and admit it, I'm thinking the OP is open to original ideas being proposed by his fellow gamers that would appeal to both a gaming public as well as a casual, semi-interested public which will represent 90% of the visitors to this exhibit.
 

CoilShot

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Vinci said:
Hideo Kojima was born August 24th in the year 1963. Not coincidentally, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his I HAVE A DREAM speech four days later.
:lol :lol
 

Ardorx

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Vinci said:
To be fair, that would be massively better than having life-sized Sephiroth and Cloud statues on some raised pedestal, allowing fans to finally have an altar they didn't have to build themselves.

I take the stance that only important things that have shaped the industry should be in this exhibit. After that you can start thinking about putting in the ico's and halo's. I want to see games like DOOM and Wolf3D which set in motion one of the biggest genres in gaming. Or games like Mario, Zelda and Half-Life which have been incredibly influential to the industry.

I also want to see the sid meier's and Miyamoto's get a spotlight and a small exhibit for the indie scene.
 

Vinci

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Ardorx said:
I take the stance that only important things that have shaped the industry should be in this exibit.
One could argue - and believe me, the fans will - that FF VII did help shape the industry. At least the console side of it. Despite my lack of fandom for the title, I can't really disagree.

I want to see games like DOOM and Wolf3D which set in motion one of the biggest genres in gaming. Or games like Mario, Zelda and Half-Life which have been incredibly influential to the industry.

I also want to see the sid meier's and Miyamoto's get a spotlight and a small exhibit for the indie scene.
Man, if there were any specific genre talk, you don't think 'public [assistance]' is going to automatically make FPS = Halo and Call of Duty? Doom, Quake, and Wolf3D would be lucky to get a footnote mention.
 

Plywood

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Good luck on your work, cRIPticon. Hopefully this is/can be a building block for gaming to be recognized by critics as a viable medium for art.
 

cRIPticon

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Plywood said:
Good luck on your work, cRIPticon. Hopefully this is can be a building block for gaming to be recognized by critics as a viable medium for art.
Thanks! That's my intent.
 

GoutPatrol

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ahoyhoy said:
An awesome idea I would love to see to fruition would be to line up all 5 of the major Nintendo consoles, NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, and Wii, each with the major Mario title being playable on it in order to show the "progression" of both one of the most beloved gaming franchise's for casual game players and adults who might remember playing Super Mario Bros. on their NES growing up but have since ignored gaming. I think you should have 2 NES's and 2 Wii's so you can have Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii at the very end to put everything in perspective.
you can do one for Sonic too, to watch the series de-evolve.