Monday, June 18, 2012

Video: The Rise Of 8-Bit Art

"The Evolution of 8-Bit Art" from PBS's Off Book
Beginning with early Atari and Nintendo video games, the 8-bit aesthetic has been a part of our culture for over 30 years. As it moved through the generations, 8-bit earned its independence from its video game roots. The idea of 8-bit now stands for a refreshing level of simplicity and minimalism, is capable of sonic and visual beauty, and points to the layer of technology that suffuses our modern lives. No longer just nostalgia art, contemporary 8-bit artists and chiptunes musicians have elevated the form to new levels of creativity and cultural reflection.

Although our electronic displays are becoming increasingly high-def, we can’t seem to shake our love affair with the clunky, chunky pixels of those beloved 8-bit games of yore. Personally, whenever I’m perusing the web (or the physical world, for that matter) and I come across something 8-bit, I can’t help but pause to take a closer look. It’s as if something deep inside my brain is hard-wired to look out for it, like some evolutionary trait—one that’s taken a matter of years to develop and has no real benefit for the human race.

This infatuation with 8-bit graphics, visuals, and sounds is explored in PBS’s latest episode from their Off Book series The Evolution of 8-Bit Art. The video examines how the style has developed from the Nintendo and Atari games and DIY home computer culture of the 1980s into the all-conquering minimalist aesthetic that’s permeated visual culture, as well as music in the form of the chiptune genre. And it’s arguably as recognizable an artistic style as Modernism, Impressionism, and all the rest.

The video features interviews with Jesper Juul, Dr. Octoroc, Minusbaby, Anamanaguchi, and Anthony Sneed.

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