(Image taken from an upcoming unannounced game by Caspar Sawyer)
It may come as no surprise that I rather enjoy certain aspects of retro sci-fi culture, considering the type of posts I have written so far.
Films like Tron, or The Last Starfighter have for ever warped my mind to enjoy a certain look and style.
There is a nostalgic element at work there, but I actually think it goes deeper than that. So, I am going to focus a bit on “classical “ computer graphics this time to make a specific point:
I honestly believe that the aesthetic of a lot of early computer/video game graphics, is extraordinarily powerful.
And it has been like this for longer than you may think… Yes, initially the visuals were created in the context of limited technological means…
Yes sometimes this led to a certain crudeness…
But ultimately it informed a unique aesthetic that turned constraints into strengths. It developed it’s own grammar and style that is direct and effective. many classic CG images and animations can be seen as exuberant and innovative, rather than primitive or artless.
The lack of processing power led to clarity of design. (which is often sorely lacking in pointless and soulless photorealism that we often see today)
I actually think we should do more to SERIOUSLY celebrate classical computer graphics. Why deride it? We don’t laugh at the crudeness in a lot of constructivist art, or the simplicity of “de Stijl” or the lack of detail in minimalism. So why then does early CG gets dismissed as cheap retro cool? Personally I would like to see more serious analysis, curated exhibitions, and writing on the subject.
Some people are aware of Classical CG’s intrinsic value and create new work that celebrates this. (See Caspar’s image at the top of the page).
It is entirely possible to employ a classic style without creating something derivative. Let’s have more of that. :-)