Suzanne Treister, Fictional Videogame Still…

Suzanne Treister, Fictional Videogame Still/Q. Would you recognize a Virtual Paradise?, 1992, photograph (from original work on screen of original Amiga computer), Courtesy of the artist, P.P.O.W., New York and Annely Juda Fine Art, London

Angelo Ray Martínez, Balloon

Angelo Ray Martínez, Balloon, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 10 x 8.125 x 2 in., image courtesy of the artist 

Tim Portlock, Clone

Tim Portlock, Clone, 2012, inkjet print, 54 x 72 in., image courtesy of the artist 

Angelo Ray Martínez, Alchemy

Angelo Ray Martínez, Alchemy, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 12 ¼ x 2 in., image courtesy of the artist 

Butt Johnson, Various Controllers, Maps, and a Robotic Accessory

Butt Johnson, Various Controllers, Maps, and a Robotic Accessory, 2007, ballpoint ink on Bristol, 26 x 20 in., image courtesy of the artist 

Angelo Ray Martínez, Labyrinth

Angelo Ray Martínez, Labyrinth, 2017, Acrylic on canvas, 20 ¼ x 20 x 2 in., image courtesy of the artist 

JooYoung Choi

JooYoung Choi, Journey Vision 5000 – Sweet Cretaceous Edition BR, 2018, flat screen, plywood, digital video art files, acrylic paint, 24 x 25 x 6 in., Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Tom DuBrock

Angela Washko

Angela Washko, Playing a Girl from the series The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft, 2013, video, Courtesy of the artist. 

Ueli Alder

Ueli Alder, Untitled Detonation #8, 2011, inkjet print, 37.8 x 31.5 in., Collection of Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell


Invader, Rubik Wipe Out, 2014, Rubik’s Cubes on Perspex, 62 5/8 x 55 1/8 in., Courtesy of the artist and Over the Influence, Los Angeles

Tabor Robak

Tabor Robak, 20XX, 2013, HD Video, real-time 3D, 6 minutes, 43 seconds, 80-in. monitor, Courtesy of the artist and team (gallery, inc.), New York

Mathew Zefeldt

Mathew Zefeldt, Barrel, 2016, acrylic on maple plywood, 48 x 40 x 26 in., Courtesy of the artist

Joan Pamboukes

Joan Pamboukes, Morning from Grand Theft Auto, San Andreas, 2006, digital chromogenic print, 30 x 40 in., Courtesy of the artist. 

Open World: Video Games & Contemporary Art

October 19, 2019 - February 2, 2020
Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries

Coming in December: Open World Arcade

Saturday, December 7 • 11 am – 5 pm
Choose 1 of 3 sessions

$10 member admission, $24/nonmember admission
To find out more and purchase tickets, click the button below.

Register to attend

According to a 2018 Entertainment Software Association survey, more than 166 million Americans play video games. Visual artists are gamers too, yet video games are rarely examined as a major influence on contemporary art. Open World draws attention to this phenomenon through the presentation of artworks including painting, sculpture, textiles, prints, drawings, animation, video games, video game modifications and game-based performances and interventions by makers who self-identify as artists.

The artworks in Open World reference a broad cross-section of games, ranging from early text adventure and arcade games to modern massively multi-player online roleplaying games and first-person shooters. Participating artists are influenced by some of the most beloved video game franchises including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, The Sims and Final Fantasy.

The exhibition’s title refers to open-world video games, which allow a player to roam through a virtual world, freely selecting their objectives. The title also draws attention to the rich opportunities video games offer for creative expression. Through games, artists build immersive, alternate words. They use digital games to create meaning through imagery, music, sound effects, animation and narrative. The rules governing the experience of playing a video game can express a viewpoint and encourage critical thinking or empathy by directing the player’s attention to systems at work within the real world.

The artists participating in Open World include: Ueli Alder (Hemberg, Switzerland), Cory Arcangel (New York), Alan Butler (Dublin), JooYoung Choi (Houston), Joseph DeLappe (Dundee, Scotland), Krista Hoefle (South Bend, IN), Invader (Paris), Butt Johnson (New York), Angelo Ray Martínez (South Bend, IN), Michael Menchaca (San Antonio), Feng Mengbo (Beijing), Joan Pamboukes (New York), Oliver Payne (Los Angeles), Tim Portlock (St. Louis), Tabor Robak (New York), Rachel Rossin (New York), Jacolby Satterwhite (New York), Skawennati (Montreal), Suzanne Treister (London), Nathan Vincent (Los Angeles), Bill Viola (Long Beach, CA) and USC Game Innovation Lab (Los Angeles), Angela Washko (Pittsburgh) and Mathew Zefeldt (Minneapolis).

Skinsuits, a virtual reality experience by Rachel Rossin, is open 12-8 pm Thursdays and 12-5 Saturdays and Sundays.

Currier Museum of Art • March 21 – June 28, 2020
San José Museum of Art • September 10, 2020 – January 10, 2021

Bembnister edited a 96-page, hardbound, full-color, fully illustrated catalog to accompany Open World. The catalog features essays by Theresa Bembnister as well video game historian Andrew Williams and feminist game scholar Samantha Blackmon. It is available for purchase ($30) in the museum shop.

Open World Arcade

As part of Open World, the Akron Art Museum will present a day-long juried arcade of indie video games and table top games from developers, students and game-creators. Open World Arcade will be held on Saturday, December 7, 2019, 11 am – 5 pm. Games presented in the arcade are judged by a panel of museum staff and video game professionals based on novelty, professional polish, aesthetics, quality of game experience and “wow factor.” 

Open World: Video Games & Contemporary Art is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, The Tom and Marilyn Merryweather Fund, the Akron Community Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by GOJO Industries. Media Sponsorship is provided by Western Reserve PBS. 

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Logo    Ohio Arts Council Logo    The Tom and Marilyn Merryweather Fund
        Akron Community Foundation      National Endowment for the Arts logo
      Western Reserve PBS      

Related Links:

[ "The Akron Art Museum is on its game exploring digital culture," Scott Suttell, Crain's Cleveland Business ] [ "Video games are theme of engaging exhibit at Akron museum," Anderson Turner, Akron Beacon Journal ] [ Art Talk: Angela Washko ]

Open World Arcade

December 7, 2019, 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Level up! For one day, our galleries and lobby will transform into the Open World Arcade. Family-friendly fun for everyone! Come play award-winning indie video and tabletop games plus classic retrogaming favorites!

Open World Arcade

December 7, 2019, 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Open World Arcade

Family-friendly fun for everyone!

Come play award-winning indie video and tabletop games plus classic retrogaming favorites!

Explore a showcase of indie tabletop and video games and meet their designers. 

Choose from 3 arcade sessions (guests are not required to leave after their sessions)

  • 11 am – 1 pm
  • 1 – 3 pm
  • 3 – 5 pm

$10 members, $24/nonmembers, Free for children 12 and under
Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Classic video games by Games Done Legit - No emulation, the original game hardware. Experience rare multiplayer game Zelda: Four Swords and Street Fighter II on a giant screen, plus classic Atari and Nintendo games. 

Indie video and tabletop games include:

  • Airlock by Robert Lauer and Colin Wolfe
  • Ancient Technologies by csanyk
  • Brukel by Bob De Schutter
  • BvR by Ethan Ham & Scott Cavanah
  • Cold Calling by Can't Get Enough Games
  • Flip & Find's Diner by Spontaneously Combustible Games
  • Flux by Mars Ashton
  • Fragile Equilibrium by Andy Phelps and the School of Communication at American University
  • HOUSTON by Zolaire
  • Lost and Found : Order in the Court - The Party Game by MAGIC Spell Studios
  • Nine Hole Roll by Robert E. and Marilyn J. Merchant
  • Odds and Deep Ends by Lexi and Kieran
  • Quarturn by Andy Malone
  • Robo Puzzle Smash by Pxlplz, LLC
  • When Rivers Were Trails by Indian Land Tenure Foundation and Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab at Michigan State University
  • Window Pains by Chubby Worm Games

Open World Arcade is made possible with support from Ohio Arts Council with additional support from the Hilton Garden Inn Akron.

Ohio Arts Council        Hilton Garden Inn