Contemporary Art, 1960s–present

Emerging Forms of Art

Can a video game be a work of art?

All works of art, but perhaps most obviously installation art, rely upon the participation of viewer to generate meaning. When you go to a gallery and look the art, your thoughts and experiences affect the meaning of the art you see and interpret. This exchange is naturally extended to the concept of game play and video games. Game theory and game art have been a fruitful source of artistic exploration for years. In 2001, The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art exhibited “Game Show,” and in 2012 the Smithsonian American Art Museum held a show called, “The Art of Video Games.” The show’s curator, Chris Melissinos, explained that through the video game medium, we are “invited by the artist to inject our own morality, our own world view, our own experiences into the game as we play it, and what comes out is wholly different from everybody that experiences it” (“The Art of Video Games”). Like other forms of digital art, video game art is very young, and generations of innovative artists will likely mine the medium for its theoretical and aesthetic potential in the years to come.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s neo-expressionist style was inspired by graffiti, pop culture, and non-Western art. His brightly colored painting, Pyro (1984), is dominated by the central image of a Mayan figure. (Art courtesy the Bridgeman Art Library, © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / ADAGP, Paris / Artists’ Rights Society (ARS], New York 2013.)


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