$5; $3 seniors/children 5-16 years old; free children ages 5 and younger
One of the first major exhibitions to explore the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, "The Art of Video Games" focuses on the medium's striking graphics, creative storytelling, and player interactivity.
Organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the exhibition travels to the Hudson River Museum for its only appearance in the New York Metro area, from Feb. 15-May 18.
"The Art of Video Games" features the most influential artists and designers across five eras of game development, from early pioneers to the contemporary artists, who created some of the best games for 20 gaming systems that range from the Atari VCS to PlayStation 3.
Video games - a compelling and influential form of narrative art - use player participation to tell stories and engage audiences in the same way as film, animation, and performance. The exhibition features 80 video games selected with the help of the public to demonstrate the evolution of the medium. The games are presented through still images, video footage, and video interviews with developers and artists, historic game consoles, and large prints of in-game screen shots. Five featured games are available for visitors to play (Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower), which show how players interact with the virtual worlds, highlighting the innovative techniques that set the standard for many subsequent games.
"Video games are a prevalent and increasingly expressive medium within modern society," said Chris Melissinos, former chief gaming officer for Sun Microsystems, founder of Past Pixels, and guest curator of the exhibition. "In the 40 years since the introduction of the first home video game, the field has attracted exceptional artistic talent. Video games, which include classic components of art, offer designers a previously unprecedented method of communicating with and engaging audiences by including a new element, the player, who completes the vivid, experiential art form by personally interacting with the game elements."
Visitors to the exhibition are greeted by excerpts from selected games projected 12 feet high, accompanied by a chipmusic soundtrack by 8 Bit Weapon and ComputeHer, including "The Art of Video Games Anthem," recorded by 8 Bit Weapon specifically for the exhibition. An interior gallery includes a series of short videos showing the range of emotional responses players have while interacting with games.
The Smithsonian invited the public to help select the video games in the exhibition. A pool of 240 games was selected by Melissinos and an advisory group consisting of game developers, designers, industry pioneers, and journalists. More than 3.7 million votes were cast by 119,000 people in 175 countries. "The Art of Video Games" is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from the Entertainment Software Association Foundation; Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins; Shelby and Frederick Gans; Mark Lamia; Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk; Rose Family Foundation; Betty and Lloyd Schermer; and Neil Young. Promotional support is provided by the Entertainment Consumers Association. The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum's traveling exhibition program, "Treasures to Go."
On view through May 18, 2014.
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