Last weekend the Scion Installation Space hosted the "Pixel Pushers" art gallery, hosted by Giant Robot Magazine's Eric Nakamura. In summary, it was a clash that saw 8-bit meets Scion meets flying broccoli and pizza. If you're at all confused right now, don't worry you should be. Despite the odd combination, it all provided a sense of nostalgia that brought art fans and geeks alike back to a time when the SNES was the bible and Mario was in office.
It was an exhibit that really spoke to the generation, a cluster of people who were growing up alongside technology and as a result shared a connection with it that many of the previous generation could never understand.
Donkey Kong fan Allen Lim said, "It was one of those small things that brought us all together then and today."
Lim had come out in support of trip-tune artists, those who are breaking onto the scene using sounds reminiscent of a Legend of Zelda soundtrack over the bass bloated beats found in today's electronic music.
Simply from the crowd that came out it was apparent that the cartridge generation transgressed many different groups and people. It wasn't just an event that led the nerds astray from the confines of their mother's basement, but instead instilled a sense of nostalgia within a larger population.
In fact it was that very same sense of being home that inspired featured artist Shawn Smith to develop his craft. Throughout graduate school, Smith was developing a completely different kind of art until he saw his previous plans implode and was left with little to turn to. Video games embedded a sense of something familiar, a better time that he could remember, and it was at that moment that Smith saw his craft turn into what it is today.
In Smith's words, "I was really interested in the way that nature was depicted on the screen because I grew up in a city and had never been camping or did the nature thing." A feeling that is increasingly more glaring in a world that is straying away from the superficial and flocking to the digital.
His art, which features a pixilated vulture perched upon on a broken typewriter, was Smith's "vehicle to manipulate fantasy," a difficult task given the contemporary definition of the word. Like Lim put it, the simplicity of the time serves as a perfect device to communicate. While some art became convoluted in obscurity, Smith's stood firmly and makes its point clear.
Smith said, "It was an interesting way to experience nature in a naive surrogate sort of sense, especially for a generation that is becoming less and less invested in the outside world."
While Smith's art may be able to relate to many who have a similar relationship with the natural world, it stands as a testament to the detachment of our generation in favor of cold plastic and metal.
If there was one thing "Pixel Pushers" illuminated on, it was that it certainly serves as a home, and to a larger population than many think.