The Evolution of 8-Bit Art

Atari, Nintendo, Commodore, and more, 8-bit aesthetic has weened in and out of the past 30 years evolving and expanding its bleep, bleep, bloop. The most recent short documentary in the PBS OffBook web series tracks the development of 8-bit art and common expectations for the style’s future. The blend of 8-bit electronic visuals from console games and the DIY attitude from early computer games defines the attitude.

The webisode features 8-bit artists Jesper Juul, Doctor Octoroc, Minusbaby, Anthony Sneed and chiptune band Anamanaguchi. Each practitioner of the 8-bit way understands the concept in relatively different terms. Minusbaby creates music using 8-bit parameters. Anthony Sneed illustrates wonderful modern art rooted in minimalism and the 8-bit pixel aesthetic.

“It’s already becoming its own respected artform,” says Doctor Octoroc, known for his 8-bit renditions of popular media including one for Mad Men. The genre simultaneously provides deep-seeded nostalgia with original experience to create striking, newly contextualized visuals.

Eventually 8-bits low resolution roots will be so far gone that the original machines will be forgotten. “Maybe in 25 years, the Atari 2600 will be so far away from our memory that it will sound like the future,” said Minusbaby.


PBS Arts

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