Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is a legend among 2-D platformers—but its art design was something to behold as well. It's intense, vivid and contrasting use of color recalls Fauvism, the 20th century art movement. Just as Fauvism took Impressionism's abstraction to a wilder, weirder level, so does Yoshi's Island embrace artistic passion and messiness. Kyle Chayka explains why Yoshi's Island is full of more "wild beasts" than we realize.
In the latest of our monthly column, Kyle Chayka explores the search for photorealism in videogames. Once we can perfectly recreate grass in code, where does photorealism have left to go? Where does the search for photorealism fall apart, how does it relate to the struggle between photography and painting, and what would an abstract-expressionist game look like?
In the third installment of this monthly column, Kyle Chayka explores the relationship between landscape painting and Minecraft. How does one blocky indie game have the ability to create transcendental experiences just as the greats of landscape painting were able to do? And how does Minecraft allow players to accomplish this in a different way?
Pong, created in 1972 and one of the first arcade videogames, displays two white rectangles and one white square on a black background. These simple geometric structures represent a game of endless complexity, one that is also an ever-changing abstract image whose composition depends on where the ball goes and where the players move their paddles. It's an elegant abstraction that visual artists can appreciate. Pong solves many of the conceptual problems faced by abstract artists in the 1920s and '30s, using many of the same approaches, but for a very different end.
When Shigeru Miyamoto debuted the latest installment in Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series at E3 2010, he also made an explicit connection between videogames and fine art. The graphics of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, as it turns out, are inspired by the French painter Paul Cézanne and Impressionist art. The artistic influence was unmistakable in the game's first leaked screenshots, where warm light filters through hazy trees that become masses of solid color in the distance. Yet some fans decried the new style for not being "realistic" enough, following on the heels of the gritty Twilight Princess of 2006.