Corey Arcangel is a Brooklyn-based contemporary artist who has made a name for himself incorporating digital technology into his work. I attended his show The Sharper Image back in April at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami.
I'm not much for contemporary art, because it often seems too haphazard and for lack of a better word, easy. I had to walk through another exhibit to get to Cory Arcangel's and actually saw the following "pieces" on display:
- A row of four dots on the wall
- A slide projector on a table projecting...nothing
- Two copies of the Life Magazine Picture Puzzle on a shelf
When crap like this constitutes "art" I don't feel uncultured when I say to my wife, the only person I ever go to art museums with, that "I don't get it." Her usual response is that contemporary art requires context in order to understand it, and that if you already have that context it makes sense to you.
If that's the case, and my being a video gamer for 32 years, wouldn't contemporary art which incorporates modded Atari 2600 and NES cartridges and PlayStation 1 controllers as part of the work make some sense to me?
Adam Sessler posted a "soapbox" video blog on G4 today wherein he threw his two cents into the Roger Ebert debate. Feels like old news at this point, but then again Adam has a whole network to run and can't just spew his thoughts onto the internet like those of us to whom this is a hobby first and foremost, at the moment, anyway...
I've talked about the fact that the discourse with Mr. Ebert is the most important thing to me, and in recent posts my desire to see gaming mainstreamed. The two topics dovetail together nicely, but I've not been specific as to why I think either of these really matter.
Video games used to be the sole refuge of the geek and the nerd. They were cobbled together, in the beginning, by math and science geeks in garages. Then in the 1980's we had video arcades, but they were still pretty nerdy. In the 1990's we had home consoles, and gaming worked its way out of the local mall and into our living rooms. By the 2000's gaming had wormed its way into a lot of homes, and now in the 2010's gaming is a fairly mainstream way of life...to those of us who were born in the 1970's, and those who came afterwards.
The question here is really about engaging the mainstream in discourse around video games, not for the sake of legitimizing games - are any of you going to stop playing them now that Roger Ebert seems to have heaped scorn upon them once again? - but for the sake of moving our culture even further out from the geek basement and into the light of day. I can only see good things arising from the day when every major news entity covers video games because they've been deemed "important enough to be covered."
As a former film student, I have a soft spot for Roger Ebert, along with anyone who takes film as seriously as I once did and occasionally aspire to do so. It doesn't usually serve a constructive purpose to attempt a serious discussion of Transformers as film, and so I usually let it go.
Joystiq has reported that on Friday, April 16th, Roger Ebert reflected on his storied statement that "Video games can never be art." He was recommended to view the following TED presentation by Kellee Santiago, by way of revisiting this statement.
Roger Ebert's reply was perfectly reasonable, to the point where I find myself in agreement with him. However, I still found myself driven to provide a response as these sorts of opportunities to engage with one of the finest critics of our time are not to be passed over lightly.
So, reprinted from Mr. Ebert's blog, my response: