A Video Game about Art?

A Video Game about Art?


Hello, and welcome to a new and unusual episode
of The Art Assignment, where I’m playing a game called Occupy White Walls. It’s developer, StikiPixels, tells me to
pronounce its acronym “Owouawwouaw” and describes it as “a PC sandbox-building,
AI-driven MMO where people play with Art.” Which means—if you’re uninitiated, as
you can already tell I am—that it’s a game where you and lots of other people get
to build art galleries, fill them with art, and open them up for others to visit. I’ve landed in this public plaza area, where
you can walk around and see the kind of things that are possible to do with the game, at
least eventually when you build up your gallery and collection and get to higher levels. But here you can see the types of surfaces
you can use to make your gallery, get acquainted with the bots who roam the place–hello, contagion,
I think I’ll let you be–and see some of the art that the AI system named DAISY will
help you buy once you’re at your home gallery. You can click in to each of the artworks and
see that some of them, like this one, were recently made and sourced from I’m not sure
where. But there are also a good number of historical
works like this one by Cecelia Beaux from 1914, which it doesn’t tell you here but
is actually in the collection of the Met museum in New York. Beaux was an accomplished and well regarded
painter of society portraits, and this is Ernesta, the artist’s favorite niece. Which is information it would be nice to have
here. But the game is still in development and will
be updated and eventually replaced with a more finished version. When we’re ready to get out of here and
work on our own gallery, we can go to this nifty postal box type thing, which allows
us to teleport to our “home” gallery. Mine’s called sugenterprises, and I got
a slight start on it earlier just to torture you guys a little less with my fumbling around. But here we are at my front desk, where you
can see the splatter paint that accompanies anyone’s arrival in a new space and will
thankfully disappear. My gallery is very much under construction,
and came with a frightful assortment of partially painted walls, which I’m going to do something
about don’t worry. I’ve acquired a few paintings which I’d
like to show you, including this showstopper by Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, which is
a very large painting in real life, and is shown to roughly to proportion like all the
art in the game. The amazing thing about this painting is that
it was made in 1907, which predates by years the works by other artists like Malevich,
Kandinsky, and Mondrian who are often credited as inventing “pure” abstraction in painting. Her distinctive style emerged from her interest
in spiritualism, and very few even saw or knew of her work until it was resuscitated
by scholars in the 1980s. And there was just a huge retrospective of
her work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, so remember that history can always be rewritten! But moving on, I also collected this lovely
still life over here by the brilliant Dutch painter, Jan van Huysum. It’s actually from the collection of the
National Gallery of Art, and this entry provides some nice information for us. And we can go in for a closer look here and
explore all of its exquisite details, like this perfect little birds nest with shiny
blue eggs, and a butterfly perched just so over here. And look at this fly! Van Huysum was showing off his mad skills
here, with these hyper-real flowers, some fresh and some even a little wilty. But we’re just getting started here, and
the way to buy more art is to consult with their AI discovery engine DAISY, who offers
you a random assortment of art choices from her database. You peruse and click on the ones you like,
and then she learns from your choices and offers you more of that. Like, I like this work by Edouard Manet, which
nicely illustrates the urban life newly possible in 19th Century Paris, women out smoking cigarettes
and drinking plum brandy, staring absently into the distance. It’s not nearly as good as this strikingly
similar but more cynical painting by Edgar Degas from right about the same time, of a
young woman slumped in front of a glass of absinthe. But let’s buy it anyway, because at 350…
owouawwouaw units?, it’s a steal. You don’t actually have to spend any real
money, by the way, this is all earned in the game. Once you buy a painting, you can go to your
inventory, pull the painting into your lower tab, and hang it on a wall wherever you’d
like. And voila! A magical spotlight appears on it, even though
we don’t even have a ceiling or lights. I’m going to try to hang it at about standard
viewing height, which for a painting that’s not enormous should be about 60 inches from
the floor to the center of the work. Mine’s a little high, but eh, we’ve got
bigger problems. It looks a little funny without a frame, so
let’s add one in, maybe this minimal brown one below. Nah, too slim and not at all period-appropriate,
so let’s look at our framing inventory. Eeps. It does leave a little something to be desired,
but let’s try this one on? Not awesome, but it will do for now. Now the first artwork that I bought and hung
tragically low is this mound of butter painting over here by Antoine Vollon. It’s an exquisite painting, which is really
quite abstract when you dive into the detail view and appreciate all of the loose brushwork. Who doesn’t love a giant mound of butter? (Vegans, I guess. But you can’t please ‘em all.) Alright, now the cool thing about this game
is that you can be a curator and make up any sort of arrangement you want. I like to think about sightlines, and what
you’re likely to see first when you walk into a room, like this nice big wall here. Let’s visit Daisy and figure out something
to put in here. Hmm, next. Ugh, Renoir, whom I cannot abide. Moving on. Eh. I wish I could type in some names or keywords
here, but hopefully that will be something that improves as the game develops. Oh, but here we have a masterpiece by Diego
Velasquez. His striking portrait of his enslaved assistant,
Juan de Pareja, whom he gives a name and a substantial amount of dignity and agency. Inside of this painting at least. SOLD. Let’s find some other distinguished individuals
to join him. No, not her. Oh, but yes, definitely her. This treasure of a painting by Johannes Vermeer. It’s not The girl with a pearl earring,
but it is A girl with a pearl earring. She’s “A Lady Writing”, and look at
the details of her fur coat here and the delicate ribbons in her hair. Oh, and even more pearls on the desk! That soft look about her face and the glowing
eyes. Definitely a keeper. I’m thinking we should make a portrait gallery,
so let’s go ahead and snag this bright-eyed lady, mostly because of her little squirrel
friend, oh and the bird she’s holding unnaturally. Weird, but good. And this looks intriguing– it’s a trompe
l’oeil, which is French for “trick of the eye,” by an Dutch or Flemish artist
whose name we don’t know. And wow, this one is great. It’s a painting of a crumpled etching on
paper, that has been red wax sealed to a wooden panel. All the different textures rendered in paint! And it’s a portrait to boot. We’ll take it. Let’s add this drawing by Toulouse-Lautrec. And let’s look for some art from outside
of Europe, which is certainly represented sufficiently in this game. I think Daisy has decided that I like portraits
of women with animals, since they’re showing me this woman with a caged monkey. This is where being able to search with keywords
could really help. But ok, so we add a few more portraits to
our collection, now trying to avoid the overabundance of people with animals they’re offering
me. And now it’s time to hang our gallery, starting
with our Velasquez, and adding other works as we go. Please forgive me if I’m making you motion
sick with my herky jerky movements here, I’m learning. And I’m now painfully aware of our lack
of ceiling problem as our Toulouse-Lautrec is half in and half out of the sunlight, which
is really bad for drawings and will cause them to yellow and fade. If we go back to our inventory and look through
building supplies I think we can find a ceiling, which you do have to purchase by the way. But it’s worth it, because we must protect
our artwork. And so now we can install a ceiling, and continue
to move around our artworks until we have something that feels somewhat balanced. Now this would be an extremely useful tool
for real-life curators to use, if you could load in whatever art you’re working with,
and build or load in the space where the show is going to be. Some museum curators still work with real
life scale models, and others do plan their shows with 3D modeling software. But wouldn’t it be cool if any museum or
collection could load their work into here and play this way? And then everybody else could experiment with
that art, too? I can’t bear it anymore, we must move our
mound of butter to a better location…. There. And then we can look out over the open ocean
and wonder why no one is coming to visit our gallery. But before we figure that out, let’s work
on our space a little more, adding to and adjusting our portrait gallery, and then figuring
out how to expand up and out, building a second level. There are all sorts of different materials
in the inventory, and different styles and surfaces. You can also change your avatar, but I don’t
really want any of these. And you can also change masks, which is what
sets apart a bot from an actual human person playing the game. But these are all terrifying and we’re going
to take a pass. Let’s find some building materials we actually
like, like these Corbusier walls and windows, made from poured concrete and no doubt named
after famed modern architect Le Corbusier, who did some pretty magical things with concrete
in the buildings he designed. And let’s pick up some handy demolition
tools as well. Now let’s get rid of these awful orange
stucco walls and replace them with these sweet new concrete walls, rotating them into place. Ah this feels better already. This is not just an art game, but an architecture
game as well. And it is SUPER fun to be able to put together
a space like this with a few clicks here and there. No, welcome desk, you stay where you’re
supposed to be. GAH I’m so bad at this. And while I continue to renovate my gallery,
and add some stairs so we can get to my mezzanine up there, I’m contemplating the mistakes
museums often make when they expand too quickly, or plan massive renovations that they can’t
afford or that don’t actually improve the experience with art one has there. And just like that we have a new space upstairs,
where I’m going to hang a grouping of works DAISY
helped me buy and what I’m thinking of as optically interesting or challenging works,
including a couple of pointillist paintings by Seurat… a few others, including that
little trompe l’oeil we bought earlier. And because this is all delightfully pretend,
we don’t have to consider the challenge of hanging art on concrete walls. Okay, now I’m really ready to figure out
how to open this place. Let’s sell our under construction sign. That doesn’t work. So I guess I’ll go on a framing spree, and
collect some more art while I’m at it. Let’s have a collection of Henri Rousseau’s,
why don’t we, now that I’ve found this “Artist” button where you can see more
by a creator. You’ll likely recognize many of his jungle
scenes, but the important note about them is that they’re made by an artist who never
actually left France, and was a humble customs clerk who painted on the side until his retirement
when he took it on full time. But there’s something extremely strange
and surreal about his paintings, a mix of realism and eerie dreamscape, whether they’re
common sights of Paris and its outskirts, or completely invented jungle scenes. The artworks do seem to be getting more expensive
as I’m buying more, regardless of their maker. Anyhoo, let’s make our wall of Rousseaus
to really wow our visitors, if ever we figure out how to get them here. Now this is getting really fun, and I’m
not sure of many places in the world where you could see a selection of works from the
late 19th and early 20th century presented on an uber contemporary wall surface like
this. It makes me excited to experiment with older
works in newer spaces, and newer works in older looking spaces. And if only framing were as easy in real life
as it is in this game. And our Klint looks much better in it’s
new home and frame over here. But I’ve had it with this loneliness, guys,
and I’ve got to figure out how to get some friends here. Let’s teleport out to see what others have
done, and let’s just get placed randomly. Ah, ok wow, this place has a tremendous number
of balustrades, doesn’t it. And AHA. I am very helpfully being told that I can
copen other player’s galleries for them while they’re out. HOW DO I DO THAT? Approach the front desk, click E and open
the gallery. IS IT REALLY THAT SIMPLE? It looks like it is. Well this has been a very enlightening trip
out into the world, and now there are all of these visitors coming! Let’s take a quick look around here, being
careful to avoid these treacherous pillars everywhere. Well this is an interesting and unusual arrangement
of pictures, but ok. Now that’s enough of that. Let’s teleport home! And we’re back, and let’s “USE” that
desk. WE DID IT! Louise is here already! Let’s type a little welcoming message and
get this party started. And when people come to the gallery, they
leave you a nice little box, which are full of OWW units! Very exciting. The more you earn, the more art and building
materials you can buy. It just warms my wooden heart to see people
here and enjoying the art, like Avelina here. I’ll go and see if she needs help. Eh, nevermind. She’s fine. I’ll just go back to the desk and collect
visitor fees. Oh hey, Paola. Hi! I know they’re bots, but that doesn’t
mean they shouldn’t be treated equally. But this is quite a bit like running an actual
gallery, y’all, which was my job for several years myself. You’re just kind of there, available when
people want to chat, and but also not overly available, so you don’t scare off the introverts
out there who just want to be left alone. But nobody ever left me boxes of money. Thanks, Takashi! For our grand finale, and now that I actually
have an audience and some income, let’s expand! I think what I’ll do is create a walkway
across the lovely ocean here. And come to think of it, this view is really
reminding me of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by architect Jean Nouvel, which was built
off of an island and designed to look as if its floating. We don’t have that kind of budget, but we’ll
do what we can, and construct a little gallery here at the end where we can house one amazing
artwork. Let’s go with this stunner by Gustav Klimt,
a portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, completed in 1907. The painting was stolen by the Nazis and displayed
in the Galerie Belvedere in Vienna for many years, until it was returned to the Bloch-Bauer
family in 2006. They then sold it for $135 million dollars,
and that buyer donated it to the Neue Galerie in New York, where you can see it today. Needless to say, this is a many storied artwork
that can now exist in this digital space as well as it’s actual space, and can be enjoyed
by countless others who can build their ideal viewing environment around it. Claudia just loves it. But that’s really the beauty of this game. You can’t replicate the experience of being
in the same room as these real-life artworks, but for the many of us who can’t get to
them, or at least can’t yet, this is a really amazing substitute. The database can and should get larger and
more international, but in the meantime there’s plenty to play with. My work here isn’t done, but I suspect this
could go on for some time. So download the game and come over and visit
my gallery anytime you like. And make your own gallery and let us all know
how to find it in the comments. Monstrum is a new show from PBS Digital Studios
about monsters, myth and lore. The show is written and hosted by Dr. Emily
Zarka, who has a Ph.D. in literature with a focus on monsters. Head to the link in the description to check
out the show and find out the origins of iconic monsters, and what these creatures say about
us. Thanks to all of our patrons for supporting
the art assignment, especially our grandmaster of the arts Vincent Apa.

100 thoughts on “A Video Game about Art?”

  • This is such a fascinating game. I'm going on vacation in a little over a month, and I think I'm going to download this for that time. It's going to be so much fun to see if I can piece all my favorite artworks together. Or if it'll have the artworks I want, considering I didn't see much when it comes to pop art in this brief segment of the game. But ah well, that's the fun of it continually being updated!

  • We've been doing this in Second Life since the mid-2000s! A lot of us have done original art in-world too. That said, this game seems fun and I want to try it out.

  • Damn. I only have a Mac. So I’ll be playing a virtual art gallery game through a virtual PC I guess!

  • Let down, this is the first video that I simply couldn’t finish because the narrative was too boring. A lecture of video games going from pixels, to that nostalgia, to where we are now, how the stories can deviate based on the choices we make instead of being a straight forward narrative… So many things, but this was painfully boring, with a video game that was just dull. Enormous disappointment.

  • An absolutly nice video, I lov ethe combination of art and video games, especially on this channel 🙂 I think this game as a VR game would be awesome for a more real experience or better impression of the artwork.

  • Be real. We should encourage people to spend more time in galleries/studios with real people and real art.

  • i wonder if they will put sculptures in too? some giacometti pieces would look stunning on that water walkway!

  • If anyone is looking for a “game” where you can look at unusual art in a sandbox style game I’m going to suggest an odd game, second life. I know about SL’s reputation but as it’s a huge game there are many different areas in it. Oh you can upload your own work.

  • Wild y'all should do a video on this! I just downloaded it the other day! My gallery is called "furioso" : ) feel free to drop by and leave a message!

  • OKAY. I just held my first 10 minutes of a total of 30 on a presentation about art and video games yesterday, and The Art Assignment just casually drop this hours before my presentation?

    I'm now between annoyed and glad. Glad that I discover this game, and slightly annoyed that I have to rewrite my presentation for my next 20 minutes.

    (But seriously, thank you for the advice! XD)

    Anyway, for anyone who wants to visit: alvinbroo

  • These gallery games are a whole big subgenre in small game productions sold/given at places like itch.io

    I'd mention some names but can't remember any due to the uncurated overflow in those free/tiny games storefronts : /
    OH!!! I just remembered Secret Habitat and Joy Exhibition by the user Strangethink. Those are my favorites.

  • I have been looking for a game exactly like this for AGES! So glad we finally have a cool art curator game!

  • it's awesome to see someone with real-world museum curation experience weigh in on this game about curating a virtual museum

  • Really enjoyed the introduction to this game as well as your running commentary giving insight into your choices and opinions as you sorted through art. Covered a lot of ground you normally wouldn’t be able to in a more artist or time period focused video. I like that it allowed you to jump around and flex that art knowledge. I could watch a whole series of you building galleries and discussing the art you want to fill them with.

  • This was something else. I'm very intrigued by this premise and will definitely be trying the game. Lame their art selection seems limited, but from what I gathered this is just an alpha release so that's expected. Either way, the AI is what interests me the most, and how well it behaves will definitely make or break the game.

  • Again I know why I don't play games – it has nohing to do with that I don't like shooting (which I don't)(played pacifist Fortnite for one week, then removed it). This is time consuming. please visit my gallery "Sledgehammer"

  • Thanks for making this. I've been heavily invested in the game, also having some of my own art in-game; been amazing to build and curate, as well as interact with the community, which is top-tier for online games, I feel.

  • I cannot abide the ugh at my problematic faves (Egon and Matisse and Gauguin) but yeah Renoir looks like premium Kinkade IMO. His stuff always felt too saccharine to handle🤢.

  • Is this an early version of the game? It's a super cool concept and has a lot of promise, but I think there's a lot more work to be done to make it feel complete.

  • I thought her first painting choice (Velazquez) was rude. The subject was too serious for a preview of a game. So out of context. Also not really cool to begin with.

  • Well, I was going to play World of Warcraft this weekend, but I guess I will be playing this instead. Art galleries > Garrisons.

  • "But these are all terrifying, so we're going to take a pass." "Next up on PBS: Monsters!" 😀 That great hilarity aside (and I truly do love your understated/semi-deadpan humour delivery!) wow, as an architect and art fan this game intrigues me very much! I'll ping back here if and when I have a chance to set something up! (and provided I don't obsess over the space too much :P)

  • To anyone here seeing this game ive been playing for a long time as when i first seen this it didn't look like my kind of game. however after trying it for half hour i was hooked on this really really great.

    no micro transactions endless things to do. I only wish they mentioned the community as they are one of the most heartwarming and very welcomed community. over than all its a really god video about the detail of each paintings 🙂

  • I've been playing for a couple of months now, and I have to tell you, it gives me so much hope for the future of art outside of the traditional art market, I'm actually kind of scaring myself from flights of fancy that can't possibly work… could they? https://steamcommunity.com/id/leeinlimbo/screenshot/802117964279896955 #OccupyWhiteWalls

  • Do you know any books worth reading focused on art? Specifically non-fiction and biographies where the plot is kind of wandering around the art scene (e.g. Just Kids and Andy Warhol's books but I'm tired of New York 😂)

  • If anyone wants to check out my gallery its fluffydandelion and let me know what I could improve on with the gallery 🙂

  • Fun video! I think I'll have to try this out. Something related I would like to see in a game; would be the option to explore paint schemes on Greek and Roman sculpture, and the option to create period correct settings( e.g your own villa with art collection). As well as being a fun way for the public to explore polychromy in ancient sculpture( and maybe create some art of their own) it would aid in understanding the art as it originally existed, in homes, and temples, and stoas, rather than art galleries.

  • Very interesting. I'd like to see what this channel makes of an upcoming independent game called Blasphemous, which the developers say it's heavily influenced by spanish history (the devs are spanish as well).

  • I've been looking forwad to dive into this game ever since Facebook recommended it over a year ago. I still have the initial post saved in my Saved Page list. But it does seem kind of disconcerting to see that they're still in beta mode at the time this video was created.

    That doesn't seem right but then again, I'm not an expert on independent software companies and indie games like this.

  • Could you make an episode about polish (Central, East European) art? I think polish artist are very interesting and unique like Kobro, Wyspiański, Abakanowicz, Kantor, Sasnal.

  • Very little makes me happier these days than a new Art Assignment Video. This one has to be my least favorite of the entire series. I'm totally down with digital art or games as digital art, and the concept does seem like a fun little SIM for art nerds, but a whole video of watching someone play a very betamode game? It's like speedruns, but… opposite? I felt like I was being advertised to. It's okay, we're all allowed a stinker.

  • After making the beginning of my gallery, I've decided to – also – become a OWW gallery opener, my own and those of others. Inspired by John Green being a Fortnite Pacifist, I did that too for a week or so, not half as fulfilling as what I do now. And while waiting for the level to load I can do some other stuff 🙂 and after 30 minutes I come back to open my own!

  • I'm working on my art history degree, and I just jumped at the chance to play this. It would be great if galleries and museums could use this game to plan exhibits. I'll have so much fun making my own gallery.

  • Can't wait to spend too much time on this. My room is suchamazingdoge, if you guys wanna check it out!

  • If you like psychological games, Layers of Fear?
    A few years back there was a promising title where you also play a French impressionist era painter and have to navigate the Turn of the Century, the theme song on the menu is online somewhere here, has a beautiful rain scene of Victorian people, some classic painting too.

  • My wife mentioned she was reminded by this of the 1970 Parker Brothers board game, “Masterpiece.”

  • This game should be poor people friendly. I was excited to play it but it loads terribly on my laptop.

  • Hilma af Klint was obviously Illuminati inspired; considering she was inspired by spiritualism and she made a painting of a pyramid with it's tip going to the sun.

    Also, I LOVE this video game! I got to start playing this! <3

  • 👨‍💻🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️🐨🗯🤦‍♂️👨‍💻💃🐺

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