The Problem Solverz Creator Ben Jones: Using Video Games 'Like Religion'
Ben Jones doesn't like nostalgia.
Photos courtesy of Giant Robot Ben Jones at the opening of "The Art of Problem Solving" at GR2
"I hate those wedding DJs who have mash-ups of two songs from your childhood and it's totally wrong," says Jones. "However, I do want to be like the Geto Boys, using a loop from some awesome Detroit soul record and then it transcends the sample."
Jones is a multimedia artist long associated with the collective Paper Rad. He's also creator of The Problem Solverz, the Cartoon Network animated series that's the subject of West L.A. gallery GR2's current show, "The Art of Problem Solving." His work is a careful balancing act between the familiar and whimsical. There are references to a past you know, but it's never nostalgic.
"There are these myths and symbols and I want to celebrate those and add on to those," says Jones.
Photos courtesy of Giant Robot Roba from The Problem Solverz
Central to Jones' work is the influence of 1980s video games. The artist admits that when he "should have been reading" as a child, he was immersing himself in the worlds of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda.
"I was getting my narratives and fantasies from video games instead of reading Moby Dick," says Jones. "I think that type of imagery and type of storytelling has carried itself over to my work and influenced it more than anything."
The Problem Solverz is what the title would lead one to believe, a show centered around a trio that solves problems. The show is seeped in video game references. There are plot devices, like elevator racing and the Eternitron battle, that mimic game play. Then there are the details, tiny images that blink in the background and sound effects with an 8-bit vibe, that give the show a late '80s Nintendo feel. Jones says he's careful to avoid "Hey, remember the '80s!" moments.
"I use [video game references] more like religion," he says. Jones describes himself as "fanatical" about his use of references, using them not simply for comedic effect, but to create layers of meaning.