A Blank Canvas

A Blank Canvas
Art House

Seth Robison | 17 Oct 2006 08:04
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Videogames are fantastic achievements of science: a library's worth of meticulously crafted code, impossibly small circuits wired to create a virtually infinite architecture, vast amounts of data etched into plastic disks with precision light years beyond that of a master craftsman. A videogame of any era represents the best of that day's science and technology. Without art, however, you're left with a high-tech light and noise machine; all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Truly great games, like all great works of art, have a spirit; the piece of its creator that he wanted to share with the world. This force can be so powerful, it can in turn inspire others to share the artist's vision through the lens of their own minds.

These visions of videogame worlds both seen and unseen are collected at a specific address: the gallery of Lifemeter Comics. Lifemeter houses a repository of videogame-inspired fan art where quality takes precedence over quantity.

Built on a LiveJournal framework, visitors can see the latest art updates on a homepage and can join a community of members that leave comments and critiques. The archived artwork on Lifemeter is classified in two ways: the Comics Gallery that features short strips of game characters in an array of situations from humorous to tragic, and the Lifemeter Art Gallery, which contains dozens of pin-ups in a range of art styles from ink and pen to watercolors to computer generated images. Each work is "signed" by the artist, who also provides a link to his previous work.

I recently had the chance to sit down with the site's three founders, Zack Giallongo, Dave Roman and Stephanie Yue, to discuss Lifemeter and its place in gaming culture.

The Escapist: First, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. Let's start at the beginning. What was the genesis of Lifemeter? What was your inspiration?

Lifemeter Comics: Lifemeter evolved out of conversations we had during comics and anime conventions. We were remarking on the rise of nostalgia [for classic games] in modern videogaming culture, from people wearing Mario and Zelda shirts to full blown cosplayers dressing up as their favorite characters. We then began to create sample art for our artist's alley tables, while finding out that many young, struggling artists have sketchbooks full of videogame character art done from the memory of a childhood spent playing videogames. ... There had been no place [where] all game characters were collected before Lifemeter.

TE: A lot of the art on the site concerns the earliest days of gaming. What is it about the 8-bit characters that makes them popular to draw?

LC: The early 8-bit characters were all sprites, and for the most part, were half-formed ideas. The interpretation of [those characters] involved a lot more imagination, as their videogame worlds weren't that fleshed out, so you have to fill in the details. It's interesting how different it can be from person to person.

TE: So is it all driven by nostalgia?

LC: It's primarily driven by nostalgia, but there are some modern games that display a unique visual style; for instance, Jet Grind Radio or Shadow of the Colossus.

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