From Man Ray and Elizabeth Lee Miller to Picasso and Marie-Therese Walter, the story of an artist and his muse proves just as striking as the artwork itself. Today, video games both inspire art and serve as a muse. Three different video game projects recently caught my fancy.
A few years ago, I went to see The Artist is Present at the Museum of Modern Art. Marina Abramović sat in a chair for nearly three months, and as part of her performance piece, museum guests sat in the chair directly across from the artist in search of an emotional connection. The line to sit with Abramović remained ever present and as it turns out, my patience was not. I got another chance to experience the exhibit, however, when I played The Artists is Present video game. Dr. Pippin Barr from IT University in Copenhagen created the video game to portray the experience of contemporary art. Barr’s game sent me to the museum virtually—through the ticket line, through a few galleries complete with an 8-bit Van Gogh and Matisse, and then back into another line to wait for Abramović. Just as with the actual exhibit, my patience lasted less than 15 minutes. I attempted to cut the line and was reminded that this seemed “like it would be rude.” Proper etiquette is a must in this game.
I am enchanted by fashion in classic film noir and I admire the cynical and gritty style of the genre. As soon as Rockstar Games released LA Noire I had to give it a try. When it comes to detective work, I am more like Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau than Sam Spade. However, this did not detract from the game’s story and aesthetics, which resemble those prevalent in classic noir scenes (crime, moral ambiguity, femme fatales, and the like). Last year, Rockstar Games recognized the appeal of the game’s juicy plots. The company partnered with Mulholland Books to publish a collection of stories that would explore the lives of the characters. Fiction writers Joyce Carol Oates and Jonathan Santlofer, among others, agreed that the characters proved thrilling enough to spin further tales. Santofer said his story was inspired by the killer. “I wanted to give him a pathology that would be terrifying and also a little bit, if I dare use the word sympathetic.” Some might consider this a cross-promotions marketing scheme, but I think it reminds people that innovation stems from many resources and reading, writing, and video games are all forms of creative play.
Every Wednesday, Daniella Zelli dishes up a snack inspired by a classic or new video game. On her blog Gourmet Gaming, she recently wrote, “I love to play video games and I love to eat….what’s even better is eating the food from the game I’m playing.” Perhaps you’re interested in a slice of Portal Cake or a Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door’s Zess Freppe. Zelli posts these recipes and more on her blog and often provides tidbits about her inspiration. For example, in the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Yeto cooked a healing soup for his ailing wife. Each time he added an ingredient to the soup, the healing powers doubled. In Zelli’s interpretation of Yeto soup, she used the key ingredients from the three healing stages: reekfish (used smoked and white fish), pumpkin, and goat cheese. She wrote “Yeto was definitely on to something with this soup….I can feel my hearts restoring as I type.” With games like Cooking Mama and Food Fight, Zelli has countless resources for recipe innovation.
I am not a chef. When I play The Sims, my avatars eat microwave Ramen Noodles (when I remember to zap them for long enough). I am not a hard-boiled detective. And it’s pretty clear I do not embody Abramović’s patience. But I am curious about the ways that video games and other creative outlets influence one another, and perhaps one day while I am playing an arcade game in the National Museum of Play’s eGame Revolution at The Strong, cataloging a cartridge for ICHEG’s collections, or reading a game designer’s notebook, I will discover my own muse.