Open World: Video Games & Contemporary Art

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

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.

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

Catalog
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.

Knight Foundation Logo      Ohio Arts Council    Tom and Marylin Merryweather Fund

Akron Community Foundation    National Endowment for the Arts Gojo

Western Reserve PBS