‘Journey’ Made a Convincing Case That Video Games Could Be Art

To borrow internet parlance for a moment, Journey is a video game designed to hit you right in the feels. You play as an androgynous character dressed in a sweeping red robe, dwarfed by stark landscapes of sand and snow. Pushing the PlayStation controller’s left analog stick, you move forward, slowly at first, and then, later in the game, with exuberant speed, as if you’re surfing. Most of the time you’re alone, but if you’re lucky, you’ll come across another figure, its silhouette fluttering in the distance. You might travel together for a few minutes and then part ways, or perhaps you’ll reach the end of the game in one another’s company. Regardless, this time will feel almost miraculous—a chance encounter at the very edge of the world.

The game’s setting gleams with flecks of Gustav Klimt gold while a single towering mountain dominates the horizon. The game is called Journey for a reason, and its deliberately allegorical story curves toward tragedy, as if this is the fate awaiting us all. Unlike most games, you die only once. Rather than a cheap metaphor for failure, it’s something heavier—a crescendo, an act of self-annihilation.

Now, it’s widely accepted that games can move us in ways similar to novels, movies, or music, but in March 2012, when Journey came out on PS3, this simply wasn’t the case. Sure, there were the works of Fumito Ueda, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus—stark, artful games of the aughts from Japan that tugged more on the heartstrings than the itchy trigger finger. So too had the rise of independent games from 2008 onward given birth to a slew of newly personal titles such as Braid. Journey, however, felt different—a video game with levels, an avatar, and enemies, but that, mechanically, eschewed almost all else to focus entirely on movement. The game had cutscenes, but these were reserved for establishing shots of glinting sand rather than moments of genuine dramatic thrust. What Journey achieved—which few, if any, video games had before—was giving you a lump in your throat while you actually interacted with it. This was a big deal.

In this way, Journey helped crystallize the idea that video games could and should be more. In 2007 and 2010, respectively, Bioshock and Red Dead Redemption, games with knotty philosophical questions at their violent cores, had pushed the blockbuster shooter and open-world adventure into newly grown-up territory. But these were also time-consuming experiences that asked you to sink tens of hours into them to get to their narrative payoffs. Journey, by comparison, could be finished in 90 minutes, the length of a film. Certain kids, myself included, grew up convinced of video games’ artistic merit but lacked a work to express this conviction succinctly. Journey was the perfect title to convert churlish nonbelievers—our parents, for example.

I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Gregorios Kythreotis, the lead designer of 2021 indie breakout hit Sable, remembers it like this, too.

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Appreciating the Performative Excellent of Laptop or computer Generated Art

Ought to we glance at electronic, laptop-produced artwork in the identical way we evaluate performative happenings? Can electronic generative art be interpreted as general performance with devices in its place of bodies? What if artists, critics and the public are also focused on success, instead than the course of action?

Personal computer-generated artwork has been all around for about 60 many years, because the early adopters of pcs experimented with the artistic probable of devices that were being originally designed for crunching numbers and computing calculations also challenging or time consuming to be solved by individuals. These pioneers of computer art, engineers and mathematicians this sort of as A. Michael Noll (born 1939), Frieder Nake (born 1938) and Georg Nees (1926–2016), wrote directions that were being formally essentially the very same of math difficulties they generally posed to machines.

The way these artists worked, a equipment is programmed to generate as quite a few doable answers to the artist’s instructions as are allowed by the arbitrary parameters imposed by the latter. The two crucial aspects of early electronic generative art artwork have been the instructions presented the device and the calculation of probable success.

odo (the persona of an anonymous generative artist), “hfold 1.1” (2021) (impression courtesy the artist)

This target can be witnessed in the will work of one more pioneer of laptop artwork, Vera Molnár (born 1924). An exception between the several pc experts who explored the inventive probable of electronic technology at the time, Molnár experienced a history in aesthetics and art background when she made her 1st computer-produced artworks in the early 1960’s. Alternatively of producing visible styles that ended up greatly encouraged by the operates of the most preferred Op artists of the time as other engineers did — most notably Noll’s fascination in the will work by Bridget Riley — Molnár designed an first design which appears unprecedented, as if it could not have been produced with conventional artwork equipment. Will work such as “Untitled (5)” (1972) and “Au commencement était le carré” (1973) clearly show straightforward geometric figures arranged by a laptop or computer next Molnár’s recommendations. These procedures authorized the machine to compute numerous distinctive effects which were being then chosen by the artist.

The rules of modern electronic generative art are the same that ruled the generation of these first performs 50 a long time back. The works of contemporary artists as various as Rafaël Rozendaal (born 1980) and Zach Lieberman (born 1977) appear not to be the fruit of a distinct interest in how the get the job done visually manifest on their own, but in the probable given by the code they wrote and the arbitrary success calculated by the device.

The imposition of guidelines with the objective of creating items happen relatively freely is an artwork exercise that has been especially explored in the previous 100 years, due to the fact the industrial production of products and pictures has led artists to study process additional than benefits.

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The latest technology in art restoration? Bacteria

Written by Ben Wedeman, CNNJacqui Palumbo, CNNRome, Italy

Rome may be the eternal city, but its ancient artifacts are under unrelenting assault by the ravages of time, pollution, acid rain and the sweat and breath of millions of tourists. The Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum, for one, has the grime of 18 centuries caked onto its surface.

Now, conservator Alessandro Lugari and his colleagues are trying to salvage the city’s treasures using a new technology — one that employs one of the oldest forms of life: bacteria.

The Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome is being fortified with billions of bacteria that have been fed enzymes in order to calcify.

The Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome is being fortified with billions of bacteria that have been fed enzymes in order to calcify. Credit: John Harper/Moment RF/Getty Images

“This marble was almost disintegrating; it was turning to powder,” he says. “So we needed to intervene with consolidation.”

Standing beneath the arch, Lugari points to a marble block weighing several metric tons. “Inside, there are billions of bacteria,” he adds.

The block in question served as a test for the rest of the monument. Its exterior was covered with enzymes, drawing the bacteria — which naturally reside within the marble — to the surface. The resulting calcification strengthened the stone, with the enzymes applied multiple times a day over the course of two weeks.

Bacteria "have already been selected by nature to develop potential abilities which we can test and study and apply," said microbiologist Chiara Alisi.

Bacteria “have already been selected by nature to develop potential abilities which we can test and study and apply,” said microbiologist Chiara Alisi. Credit: CNN

“(The bacteria) doesn’t pass through the marble but rather through the cracks, and it solidifies,” Lugari explains. “It becomes covered with calcium carbonate, which is the same substance as marble and therefore binds, on a microscopic level, the various parts of the marble, creating more marble.

“We tried this, it worked, so the next step will be to try it on the entire monument,” he adds.

Restoring at the molecular level

Silvia Borghini, conservator at the National Roman Museum, said that bacteria have an unfair reputation because they are associated with infection, but their functions are much more complex. “Only a very small number of bacteria are pathogens,” she says. “More than 95 percent of bacteria are not harmful to humans… we live in the midst of bacteria and live thanks to bacteria.”

Increasingly, restoration work is being carried out on a molecular level. But in Italy, the challenge is huge because the country has archaeological sites on a monumental scale.

Michelangelo's 16th-century tombs for the Medici family have recently been cleaned with bacteria.

Michelangelo’s 16th-century tombs for the Medici family have recently been cleaned with bacteria. Credit: Alamy

Beginning in November 2019, bacterial microbes were used in Florence to clean the Medici Chapel, a mausoleum designed by Michelangelo in the 16th-century.

“They found that they had to remove both organic and inorganic materials,” says Chiara Alisi, a microbiologist with the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development. “But in this case using chemical substances would have been too aggressive, so (the restorers) asked for our help.”

Alisi and her team search for potentially useful strains of bacteria in

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