Video games, at least in the ‘modern’ term as we know it, is a young creative industry compared to other artistic forms. Since becoming more mainstream in the mid-late 1980s – and earlier if you account for successes like Atari in North America – it’s naturally influenced and inspired a lot of creators, and we’re increasingly seeing the impact of gaming across other artforms.
An interesting recent example is from Larry Achiampong, a British Ghanaian artist who has produced varied work from painted collages, to sculptural art and most recently film, with more besides. In an interview with The Guardian the artist talks about their most recent film, Wayfinder, and the conversation goes to some interesting points about sources of inspiration.
When discussing the artist’s 2016 film, Relic Traveller, Achiampong explains that growing up it was in gaming worlds where key ideas started to develop.
That’s where my film language comes from. The Sega Mega Drive, the Super Nintendo, where anything feels possible and you feel like you could jump through portals into a whole different environment. We were a working-class family. I wasn’t afforded the privilege of going to galleries at a young age but I was being shown art in another way.
The article also highlights another of the artist’s exhibits that reflected an almost game-like approach to art:
One of the most striking examples of Sanko-time is Achiampong’s roundel for Westminster tube station. Installed in 2019, it’s based on his 2017 Pan-African Flag for the Relic Travellers’ Alliance which flew above Somerset House during his 2017 residency; the standard red, white and blue Underground scheme replaced with the Pan-African colours of red, gold and green and 54 stars representing the 54 countries in the African Union. I tell him that visiting the station to see the roundel felt like I was simultaneously stepping off on to a new platform in a computer game while also arriving at an alternate future.
“This is the language I speak with!” says Achiampong, laughing. “I’m a gamer, I love playing within environments. I never felt British flags were speaking to me, about me or for me, so it was beautiful to have this opportunity to create this new design and hear people say they felt recognised as a result of that.”
Larry Achiampong’s Wayfinder exhibition is at the Turner Contemporary Gallery (Margate, UK) until 19th June before going on tour, and includes a Gaming Room showcasing titles that have inspired their work.
We recommend giving the full interview a read if you’re interested in the artist’s work.