Thursday night saw the opening of the latest installment of the iam8bit art. Like the Atari making way for the NES, iam8bit shed its smaller venue and added a superlative: now the 4500 square foot building houses SUPER iam8bit. Superlative aside, the show (which will run until September 10) features scores of art by over 100 artists, all inspired by that classic era of gaming. I was lucky enough to get in to the first night, get a press pass, and get my über-nerd on.
From the first step into the new headquarters in beautiful mildly sketchy Silver Lake, home of a thousand hipster fuckbags, the sheer volume of art hung up on the walls is mindboggling. From insanely accurate 3D remakes of every item from The Legend of Zelda (Enemy Bait and Red Candle are most impressive) to parodies of Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies reimaging the fates of heels and heroes alike, the initial reaction is to smile wide and take it all in. True, between the massive crowd and packed walls movement to the main lobby was difficult, but damn it was worth the wade. As the only person there with a film camera to keep all analog for thematic continuity, the softer lighting and unidirectional flash at my disposal led to some less than stellar results, but here are some highlights.
Yes, that is a Red Potion
Now the main floor, decked equally out with Roombas made to look like a Goomba, and one each of a red and green shell from Super Mario Bros., two live artists crafting pseudo-graffiti style homage’s, and more. Why, here are some more pictures to decrease the words I need to type:
Obviously, the main event was the custom painted Galaga cabinet, celebrating thirty years of intergalactic insect destruction, projected on a wall. Highest score won the machine – needless to say, I lost spectacularly (by about 100,000 points). But between the 45 minute wait, in which the teens behind me could not identify the most basic Zelda items or Samus Aran, and the two men in front of me chatted about strategies before losing in round 3, and the congrats on being a top 15 score, more fun was to be had thanks to DJ R-Rated than just milling about drinking PBR.
Most notable about R-Rated’s set was his flawless integration of NES theme remixes with similarly structured modern beatsmiths, featuring one-two punches like the Zelda Overworld Theme (LoZ seemed to be a mascot game of the evening) into Nosaj Thing’s stellar ‘Fog’ and a brief hiatus to simply spin Flying Lotus’ ‘GNG BNG’ for the hell of it. Sure, chiptune purveyor and Seattle resident Leeni had a blast playing her infectious J-pop informed music but the general talking in the room sadly overran her set, volume wise, reducing her voice to a whisper. For those adventurous enough to go outside, life size renderings of favorite characters could be arranged as cards for photo opportunities or entertainment alike. And three drunk girls broke the world’s largest Atari joystick in a stupid flailing frenzy.
Rather than spoil all the fun, I’ll leave it here. Considering the event is free, I plan on going again with the intent of buying the new SUPER iam8bit book to accompany my copy of the first iam8bit art collection/book. Below you’ll find the official debut night video, as made by the curators themselves. Once again, the fine folks of at iam’s helm prove that pixels can be as gorgeous as pointillism.