'Sims' exhibit explores artistry of video games

Among emerging artists, video games as inspiration are nothing new, but using a video game itself as a digital canvas? Welcome to "The Sims: In the Hands of Artists" at Otis College of Art and Design's Ben Maltz Gallery.

The exhibit features submissions from 16 Otis students vying for prizes in two categories: traditional media and machinima, the latter of which is the creation of films using 3-D video-game technology -- in this case, Electronic Arts' Sims 2.

"Some people probably think of Sims as just a video game, but we wanted to show the general public that video games can transcend game play," says Jack Lew, EA's global university relations manager for art. "Some of the freshest ideas often come from college campuses, and we wanted to see how art students would celebrate the creative aspects of the game."

Thirty-five pieces are featured in the exhibit, ranging from traditional paintings and illustrations to videos projected on a mannequin and even a prototype board game titled "Food Fight Super Market."

Also on display are six machinima, including the competition's grand prize winner, "H2O=Life," by recent Otis graduate Olivier Chatard. The three-minute video, which took more than 50 hours to produce, details how much water is consumed by a family of three.

"Olivier's submission was the pinnacle of professionalism and creativity," says Otis Provost John S. Gordon, who was also one of the competition's jurors, "and by using machinima, I think he'll reach an audience that otherwise might not have paid attention to the clean-water issue."


"The Sims: In the Hands of Artists," Ben Maltz Gallery, 9045 Lincoln Blvd., L.A. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Wednesdays and Fridays through Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays. Ends Aug. 11. Free. (310) 665-6905, www.otis.edu/benmaltzgallery

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