The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer Headlines the Spring 2016 Season at the Davis

February 10, 2016
The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer, "Passage"

Do video games have the potential to lead to meaningful interactions? Video game designer Jason Rohrer thinks so. "The playing of a game is almost exclusively made of the stuff of thought: intelligent action and reaction; scientific hypothesis and experimentation. In fact, the players' thoughts are crucial for pushing the experience forward," Rohrer said in an interview for the exhibition catalogue for his spring 2016 show at the Davis, The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer.

Video gamers and art lovers—and those who consider themselves both—are invited to hear more from Rohrer tonight, February 10, at 5:00pm when The Davis Museum at Wellesley College welcomes him for an artist lecture to introduce The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer. The exhibition, on view at the Davis through June 26, is one of three special exhibitions that may be viewed for the first time at the Davis Spring Opening Celebration.

A maker of visually elegant and conceptually intricate games, Rohrer is among the most widely heralded art game designers in the short but vibrant history of the field. He entered the national spotlight with his 2007 game Passage, which premiered at GAMMA, an experimental game show organized by the Kokoromi collective. In 2012, the Museum of Modern Art acquired Passage for its permanent collections.

The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer is the first known instance of an art museum presenting a solo exhibition of a video game maker. “This is a notable milestone in the history of the form but video games have been enjoying increasing attention in the art world for the past two decades,” said Mike Maizels, the Mellon New Media Curator at the Davis. "The museum and video games worlds are colliding, and we hope to portray this in a way that is dynamic and exciting for visitors."

The Davis exhibition tells the comprehensive story of Rohrer and his collective creations, and will feature 15 of the artist's finished games alongside sketches, ephemera, and other related materials. Six laptop stations will allow visitors to experience games featured in the exhibition. Four games—Inside a Star Filled Sky, Primrose, Diamond Trust of London, and Cordial Minuet—will be highlighted with large, experiential build-outs. Guests will also have the chance to challenge Maizels and other players in three "Play the Curator" events, and a "Game Night" on April 21 will be followed the next day by a Thinking in Play symposium.

The New York Times called Rohrer's show, "An Exhibition That Proves Video Games Can Be Art."

Also on view at the Davis:

To honor the occasion of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, the Davis presents That Right Promethean Fire: Shakespeare Illustrated, on view through June 5. Featuring works of art from the 17th to the 21st centuries, the exhibition will include masterpieces from John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, a project begun in 1786 that included a collection of paintings by various artists that were translated first into a large-format print series, and finally into an illustrated edition of Shakespeare's plays. Several Shakespeare-focused events will complement the exhibition, including a film series inspired by the Bard's works; Shakespeare on the Global Silver Screen begins Saturday, February 13 with a Valentine’s Day double feature of Romeo + Juliet and 10 Things I Hate About You.

In anticipation of the fall 2016 reinstallation of the Davis permanent collection galleries, the Museum will also feature Gendered Value: Curator’s Choice, also on view through June 5. This special exhibition is a theme-based exploration of artworks in the permanent collections, selected by eight members of the curatorial staff. The works cover a unique, rarely seen cross-section of the collections, highlighting interesting objects across periods, genres, and cultures. Various media including painting, sculpture, photography, textiles, prints, and drawings, will be represented in more than 40 works of art.

The Davis Museum at Wellesley College is free and open to the public, as is the Spring Opening Celebration. Following the opening event, guests are invited to enjoy the exhibitions Tuesdays through Sundays, 11:00am–5:00pm.