Through Sunday, December 13, the Art Gallery is presenting A Palette of Pixels: The Evolving Art of Video Games, a major exhibition that explores video games as a medium of artistic expression and communication. Curated by Chris Ault, Associate Professor of Interactive Multimedia, the exhibition features concept art, sketches, and sculptures from video games, as well as interactive game stations. Games highlighted in the exhibition include The Banner Saga, Bioshock, The Dream Machine, FLOMM!, Flower, God of War, Journey, Katamari Damacy, Metamorphabet, NaissancE, Okami, Spate, and more.
A Palette of Pixels looks back over the last 30-plus years of video games—from old arcade and Atari games to new indie games on the App Store—and considers the varied approaches game-makers have utilized for visual expression and communication within the medium. Early designers had ambitious visions for their games, as evidenced by their often elaborate marketing and packaging, but they were severely constrained by the technology of the time when it came to translating that vision to the screen. By the 2000s, technology had caught up and designers could put almost anything they imagined on the screen, but only if they had access to tools, money, and distribution networks of the established studios. Today, now that the tools and the means of distribution are available to almost anyone, game designers are free to experiment and express themselves in a multitude of ways. Some of the current works in the exhibition are highly realistic, while some are abstract; some intentionally take on the same technical and visual constraints that so dictated early games, while some reference artistic movements and techniques that predate the medium of video games altogether.