From Concept to Console:
Art and Aesthetics in Video Game Design
September 4 – December 13, 2015
Curator’s Tours: 5:30 p.m.
Friday, October 2
Friday, November 6
Thursday, December 3
Video games have come a long way since Pong; the video game is an artistic medium all its own now. “From Concept to Console” looks at art in video games, pulling back the curtain to reveal the process of how it is conceived and created. It’s an examination of the creativity, diversity, and wide range of artistry that spans many disciplines in a medium that is, in some ways, still in its infancy.
“Our goal from the outset was to move past the outdated question of whether video games can be considered art because we believe that, emphatically, they can be. Instead, we wanted to highlight games that we think are pushing the medium forward – those that display the highest levels of artistry – and the artists who contribute so much to the final product,” notes co-curator and Opalka Director Elizabeth Greenberg.
The seven games from six different studios appearing in the exhibit reflect the spirit of conceptual problem solving and aesthetic beauty in a multitude of ways that embody the range of talent, skills, interests as well as the cultural backgrounds of the artists who created them.
Though new artistic territory in the technological age is being explored here, the aesthetic sensibilities are grounded firmly in the past. Influential painters such as Salvador Dali, John Singer Sargent, Otto Dix and Gustav Klimt inform the artists and much of their work makes use of traditional drawing, painting theory, sculpture and even origami. “Gamer or not, everyone will be able to appreciate the range and beauty of the works on display as well as the talent of the artists who made them,” says co-curator Edward Ticson.
Perhaps what is unique about the art in these games is that it is not intended to be a passive viewing experience but an interactive experience that engages viewers. With so much having already been explored in the visual arts, “Swap Force” concept artist Dave Phillips asserts that “interactive art is the new frontier.”
Some of the best work and artists of the last ten years will be showcased, including the singular talents behind the games Machinarium, Botanicula, Skylanders: SWAP Force, The Dream Machine, The Unfinished Swan, Transistor, and Tengami.
Machinarium (Amanita Design)
Machinarium, by Czech-based Amanita Design, is a point-and-click adventure that follows a robot named Josef through a city that is slowly being reclaimed by nature. The earthy, hand-drawn environments were created by Jakub Devorsky and were later painted and animated by Ada Lachman and Vaclav Blin.
Botanicula (Amanita Design)
Botanicula is Amanita Design’s second full-length game, which follows a group of tiny botanical creatures in their quest to save a seed. The abstract organic world was rendered almost entirely digitally by Jaromir Plachy.
The Dream Machine (Cockroach Inc.)
Hand-built sets and characters made from cardboard and clay were created by Erik Zaring from the initial concept art of Anders Gustafsson for their game The Dream Machine. In 2008, the two Swedish artists formed Cockroach Inc. began work on this yet-to-be-completed game that was inspired heavily by film and psychology.
The Unfinished Swan (Giant Sparrow)
Giant Sparrow’s The Unfinished Swan makes use of an unusual game mechanic where the player creates the art in the game by throwing around blobs of paint. Inspired by children’s books, artist Hokyo Lim used a minimalist touch to create the stark graphic visuals of the game.
Concept artist Ryo and the team and Nyamyam used pop-up books for the inspiration for Tengami. The developers experimented with Japanese paper and folding techniques to create the game that reflects the deep, rich colors of the seasons in Japan.
Transistor (Supergiant Games)
Gustav Klimt and art nouveau served as the artistic inspirations for Jen Zee, the concept artist behind Supergiant Games’ Transistor. The adventure game follows the story of Red, a former singer, as she journeys through a futuristic city.
Skylanders: Swap Force (Vicarious Visions)
The concept team of Dave Phillips, Steve Olds, Arzu Fallahi, and Jeff Bellio led a studio of dozens of artists in creating the expansive colorful world of Skylanders: Swap Force. Starting from an idea of characters that could be taken apart and reassembled, the team created numerous character and environment designs in a collaborative process.
For more information about our related programming, including artist lectures, a film series and a panel discussion devoted to women in gaming, please refer to our Programs + Events page.
- Tuesday - Friday 10am - 8pm
- Saturday - Sunday 12 - 5pm
- Monday by appointment only