January 30, 2015
LOS ANGELES, California – My colleagues from the USC Game Innovation Lab and I spent the morning at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) conducting the most rarest* of research activities by looking closely at actual source material. We were there to see, then deconstruct**, the seminal works of the Hudson River School as represented by the exhibit Nature and the American Vision, whose aesthetics of beauty and politics are a primary reference for Walden, a game.
We scattered and swarmed; as we fell into discussion and into the world of the paintings. Our virtual ferry ride up the Hudson River was guided by the School’s founder, Thomas Cole, who shared with us his favorite vistas. We delighted in Turrell’s luminescence before returning to actual reality for lunch off a truck.
Looking back at the snapshots from our visit, I was reminded that the emotionally-evocative and immersive environments of video games and virtual reality are rooted in Painting.
* In the Information Age, meta-data distracts viewers from appreciating the subtleties in the analog originals. Are we losing critical knowledge, by offering too much information?
** Common visual elements in paintings from the Hudson River School.
1.) The horizon line is below the center of the composition – this emphasizes the sky and distant topography .
2.) Man and man-made objects provide a sense of scale to the grand vistas.
3.) Paintings is in HDR, bitches!