Bioshock Infinite & Video Games as Art

(Ed Note: Spoilers ahead! All of them!)

The floating city of Columbia’s welcome center is perhaps the most beautiful setting in video game history. Sunlight breaks through the stained glass to the floor below. Marble statues tower over you. Beautiful music and the swishing of running water are all you hear. Flowers float past you.

Upon leaving Columbia, you step into the sunlight, greeted by statues of Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson. Citizens drenched in red, white, and blue enjoy old-timey carnival games at a fair.

It’s paradise.

Until, of course, you are asked to assault an interracial couple. Then to defend yourself from attacking police officers. Then told you can initiate all sorts of gory executions using your Sky-Hook. Through all the violence and blood, the sun shines on.

Columbia is soon aflame, literally and figuratively, from civil war. As the embers of a burning city swirl around you, you come upon a young woman sitting on a crate amidst the chaos, singing a startlingly beautiful version of Fortunate Son.

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As soon as I set down my controller, eyes still filled with tears, I knew I had to write about Bioshock Infinite. Continue reading

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Surrealist Manifesto

During my recent trip to London, I finally came to understand what I enjoy about art. As I mentioned in a previous article, art was not always a part of my life. Heck, I wouldn’t say it’s a large part right now either, despite a newfound appreciation.

Although I won’t be mingling with socialites, sipping wine and nibbling on cheese at the next Walker fundraiser, I do lose myself in surrealist art in a way usually reserved for fire. Just as I could stare into a campfire for hours at a time, I could stand in front of a Salvador Dali or Yves Tanguy all day.

While stroking my beard thoughtfully. My beard is the source of all my intellectual power. Barely kidding.

While stroking my beard thoughtfully. My beard is the source of all my intellectual power. Barely kidding.

Dali and Tanguy are easily my favorite artists. Until London, I never understood why I loved these two and their fellow surrealists while I remained indifferent to nearly all others. Finally, as I stood stroking my beard in front of Tanguy’s Azure Day at the Tate Modern, I understood.

I love surrealism’s contrast. The known and the unknown. The beauty and the brutality. The logical and the impossible, Echoes of both the familiar and the deformed. It simultaneously could be, shouldn’t be, and is. It spurs me to keep looking within each work for an understanding that will never come.

I love the sense of possibility that surrealism’s provides. While the painting ends at its margins, the ideas go on forever. The frame encloses the work, but the mind cannot help but expand beyond its original borders.

Ultimately, this is why I love surrealist art.

Realism shows me one thing. It is what it is. The style and the method and the perspective changes, but mine does not.

Abstract art shows me nothing. It does, of course, try to express something, but I’m not going to do all the work for the artist. Meet me halfway. If your triangular box with a picture of Dave Foley at the center represents the emptiness of love, at least give me a hint.

Surrealism shows me anything. There’s enough there to draw upon what I know, but not enough for me to actually know. That contrast, and the possibility it creates, blows my mind every single time.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be over here with a Mich Golden, gnawing on a hunk of sharp cheddar.

Mmmmmm… sophistication.

/Gratuitous Simpsons Sound Effect

Some of my favorites after the jump. Continue reading