An L.A. Riots Video Game Concept in Which You Can Be Rodney King
Ray Young Chu L.A. Riots Study by Ray Young Chu
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With E3 ready to take over downtown Los Angeles this week, it makes sense that Giant Robot would launch "Game Over," its popular video game-themed group show, at GR2 in Los Angeles last weekend. Previously, the exhibition took place at the art gallery/boutique's now-defunct San Francisco outpost. With more than 130 pieces in the show -- including the game L.A. Riots Study, pictured above, where you can play as Rodney King -- "Game Over" brought together art-world veterans with up-and-comers to explore the art of the video game. Saturday night's opening brought in a crowd so large, people were spilling onto the sidewalk in front of the shop.
"We've always treated [video games] like an art form," says Eric Nakamura. The Giant Robot proprietor has had a lifelong relationship with video games -- he grew up playing an Atari 2600 and spent some time in the early '90s working for a magazine simply called Video Games. That influence has long been present inside the Sawtelle Boulevard art gallery.
Now the rest of the world is catching up with Giant Robot. The Smithsonian is currently running the exhibition "The Art of Video Games." Paper Rad artist Ben Jones, who talked about his video game influences in a "Cult Stars" interview last year, recently participated in MOCA's "Transmission L.A." event. Meanwhile, group shows based on video games have been popping up across the country with greater frequency.
"Game Over" takes two different perspectives on games. In one respect, it explores the influence of Atari, Nintendo and Sega classics. On another level, though, "Game Over" shows how far you can push the boundaries of art and video games.
Liz Ohanesian Playing Catburger, a game designed specifically for Giant Robot's latest show.
Ray Young Chu took the opportunity to present a part of L.A. history through the lens of a video game. In L.A. Riots Study, he pieces together smaller paintings based on the events of 1992 to form the basis of a hypothetical game. The paintings at the top of this complex work represent the characters you can pick to play and who you select dictates how the game will proceed. For example, if you chose Rodney King, your goal would be to stay standing as long as possible.
Chu admits that he doesn't play video games, but his piece evoked some of the most popular titles of the past two decades. "Everyone thinks of Grand Theft Auto when they see this," says the artist.