Akron Art Museum Presents Open World
Open World: Video Games & Contemporary Art
Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries
October 19–February 2
According to a 2015 Entertainment Software Association survey, 155 million Americans play video games. Visual artists are gamers too, yet video games are rarely examined as a major influence on contemporary art. Open World: Video Games & Contemporary Art draws attention to this phenomenon through the presentation of artworks including painting, sculpture, textiles, prints, drawings, animation, video games, video game modifications and game-based performances and interventions by makers who self-identify as artists.
The artworks in Open World reference a broad cross-section of games, ranging from early text adventure and arcade games to modern massively multi-player online roleplaying games and first-person shooters. Participating artists are influenced by beloved video game franchises including Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, The Sims and Final Fantasy, although the exhibition will not include commercially produced games.
The exhibition’s title refers to open-world video games, which allow a player to roam through a virtual world, freely selecting his or her objectives. The title also draws attention to the rich opportunities video games offer for creative expression. Through games, artists build alternate worlds. They use digital games to create meaning through imagery, music, sound effects, animation and narrative. The rules governing the experience of playing a video game can express a viewpoint and encourage critical thinking or empathy by directing the player’s attention to systems at work within the real world.
By exploring the ways artists utilize video games, Open World offers an understanding of the depth of the aesthetic and conceptual influence of games on their practices. Artists make interactive electronic games or use video game software or hardware as raw material for their work. They borrow characters, background imagery, symbols, code, or hardware from commercially produced video games to explore digital worlds and their impact on society. They use tools intended to create video games to make works of art, and they perform, photograph and record inside games.
Held in conjunction with the exhibition, the Open World Arcade is a daylong event on December 7 at the Akron Art Museum. Visitors will have the chance to explore a juried selection of indie video and tabletop games while meeting their designers. They will also be able to play the commercially made games that inspired artists in the exhibition.
The artists participating in Open World: Video Games & Contemporary Art include Ueli Alder (Hemberg, Switzerland), Cory Arcangel (New York), Alan Butler (Dublin), JooYoung Choi (Houston), Joseph DeLappe (Dundee, Scotland), Krista Hoefle (South Bend, IN), Invader (France), Butt Johnson (New York), Angelo Ray Martínez (South Bend, IN), Michael Menchaca (San Antonio), Feng Mengbo (Beijing), Joan Pamboukes (New York), Oliver Payne (Los Angeles), Tim Portlock (St. Louis), Tabor Robak (New York), Rachel Rossin (New York), Jacolby Satterwhite (New York), Skawennati (Montreal), Suzanne Treister (London), Nathan Vincent (Los Angeles), Bill Viola (Long Beach, CA), Angela Washko (Pittsburgh) and Mathew Zefeldt (Minneapolis).
Open World: Video Games & Contemporary Art is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, The Tom and Marilyn Merryweather Fund, and National Endowment for the Arts. Media Sponsorship is provided by Western Reserve PBS
MERNET LARSEN: THE ORDINARY, REORIENTED | THROUGH SEPTEMBER 8
Judith Bear Isroff Gallery
DREAD & DELIGHT: FAIRY TALES IN AN ANXIOUS WORLD | THROUGH SEPTEMBER 22
Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries
JOE VITONE: FAMILY RECORDS | THROUGH OCTOBER 27
Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Gallery
OPEN WORLD: VIDEO GAMES & CONTEMPORARY ART | OCTOBER 19– FEBRUARY 2
Akron Art Museum
One South High Street
Akron, Ohio 44308