March 12, 2004

Dead Art

by Michael Mateas · , 4:12 pm

This came through my mailbox today, and the first few sentences sounded interesting:

E3 Expo to Feature Video Game Art Exhibit

Los Angeles — Organizers of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the video game industry’s annual convention in Los Angeles, on Thursday announced a call for entries for its first exhibit of video and computer game art, dubbed “Into the Pixel.”

I thought it was great that E3 would host a game art show, giving commercial and experimental game practitioners a chance to interact with each other. But it was too good to be true: when I found the page, I saw to my disappointment that what they mean by art is digital images drawn from commercial games – to be hung on walls. I’ll just let that lie there for a moment…………

This kind of digital taxidermy reminds me of the SIGGRAPH 2003 art show, where the categories of interactive and generative art were effectively eliminated. Disappointing after the great energy that had built up around the SIGGRAPH art scene in previous years.

This is not to say that there’s no place for digital printmaking, but when this becomes the sole focus, it belies the centrality of computational processes in computer-based work.