The Art of Video Games

“The Art of Video Games” exhibition is on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum through September 30 2012. The exhibition is not a typical art museum show. It provides a historical overview of the development of video games – from Pac Man and Donkey Kong to Portal and World of Warcraft – in an fun and interactive manner. The stands with monitors invite viewer participation, either by selecting information about particular games (divided in categories of ‘action’, ‘target’, ‘adventure’, tactics’), or by playing a game projected onto a wall for other viewers to see.

I’ve never seen kids as excited about an art exhibition.

The historical development of video games is interesting, but the part of the exhibition that truly encapsulates the ‘art’ part of the influence of video games is Nam June Paik’s installation “Megatron/Matrix” (1995).

“Megatron Matrix is roughly the size of a billboard and holds 215 monitors. The video—augmented by a loop of unrelated soundbites—mixes images from the Seoul Olympics with Korean folk rituals and modern dance. Smaller clips play simultaneously on multiple monitors, while larger, animated images flow across the boundaries between screens, suggesting a world without borders in the electronic age.” (The Smithsonian American Art Museum: Megatron/Matrix).

Nam June Paik, "Megatron/Matrix" (1995) - Source: The Smithsonian American Art Museum

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