National Endowment For The Arts Makes Roger Ebert Eat His Words

A little over a year ago, Roger Ebert was publicly denouncing the potential of video games to be considered art. This month, however, the National Endowment for Arts has publicly, if completely indirectly, disagreed.

The NEA, the largest public funding for arts in America, is expanding its Arts on Radio and Television grant program to include digital games, and renaming it Arts in Media. 2Player: Computers. Games. Art. is the resulting exhibit, which features five computer game artists displaying their work in various forms. Mark Essen, Paolo Perdicini, Jason Rohrer, Pixel Jam and Eric Svendang each present their own interpretation of what video game art means to them. Essen and Perdicini have taken their exhibits to contemporary art museums around the world. Essen has shown his exhibit at the New Museum in New York City, and FACT (The Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) in Liverpool. While 2Player was at FACT, it was only part of a year-long "season of gaming at FACT. The season includes interactive game events, competitions, and a game-themed film program." Perdicini has shown his work in the National Museum for Contemporary Art in Athens and the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro.

"The games designers in this exhibition are all resolutely low-fi. Their interests and style are all in opposition to the mainstream computer industry and reacting against the multi million pound texture mapped hyper-realism of contemporary games," according to the official description of the exhibit.

Many of the art pieces are, like the name of the exhibit suggests, playable by two people. This allows people to interact with the art piece, but also examines how art relates to the ways in which we communicate. Placing these games in an art gallery allows viewers to consider gaming graphics and mechanics of gameplay in the context of contemporary art.

2Player: Computers. Games. Art. opens at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester, UK on Saturday, where it will stay until September 5th.

2Player Ponders Computer Games as Art via [Culture24]

Top photo credit: Flickr via Tommy Huynh


    In your face ebert

    Hang on, didn't Ebert actually say that while individual scenes and parts of games could be considered art, the games themselves weren't? (I remember this being said, but I am trying to find the original source... I could be wrong about this...)

    So this isn't exactly flying in the face of what he said, right? It is art from videogames, or art inspired by video games, not necessarily the videogames themselves.

    I mean, don't bark at me, I disagree with Ebert on his point, I do think some video games could be considered art (more so than the minimalism rubbish that is in our local museums!), but I am wondering, does this automatically negate what Ebert said?

      It a bit odd really because you could apply the same to movies stills or the phenomena around a movie could be considered art but otherwise it's a collection of images projected or displayed on a tv.
      The difference with gaming being that it's interactive, with any good bit of art it connects with it's audience and there is a creative exchange of ideas.
      Think about modders changing it from the ground up and forum whiners directly or indirectly changing the medium from comments in a forum.
      Objects being crafted in a computer to be used in a virtual stage.
      A painting is art, is a photo of a painting art? Is a painting done in photoshop and printed on to canvas art?

      Yes it does, this exhinition is not of the art inside games or art inspired by them, the art in this exhibition is the games, they were created for this exhibition only and explore mostly the part of the 2 player experience.

      This is nothing new in the art world, interactive art exhibitions have been around for a while, but it is only now that videogames are the main focus of one.

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