Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Arts & Culture: The Sims and Parsons Meet

Jessi Kempin won a contest to reimagine The Sims. Photographed by Josh Kurp.

By Josh Kurp

In a project blending reality and near-reality, Parsons and California-based game manufactor Electronic Arts (EA) came together at the Chelsea Art Museum two weeks ago to showcase artwork created based on the video game The Sims.

A game that can be played on both the computer and a video game system, The Sims lets players simulate the day-to-day life of a simulated character, or Sim.

The work displayed included machinima (using a game engine to produce animations), paintings, drawings, toy design, and interactive media�which included such things as Sims expansion packs that gave the characters different plagues and a make-your-own Sims game called "mySIM modular toy."

"What I like the most about the game is a lot of possibility for narrative," said Parsons sophomore Roxanna Vizcarra, whose painting "Nervous Outsider" was showcased. "The character "Nervous Outsider" is an outcast and a lot of fans don�t like him. But I think he�s sort of a saintly figure."

On the night of the opening, EA gave awards to the best work in two categories: Open and Machinima. The highest prize in the Open category went to Ed Chow, who won $2,500 for a set of toys with interchangeable pieces. But the largest prize of the night, $5,000, went to Glendon Jones and his piece, "The History of the Luddites."

Jones' "History" was a machine that needed the turn of a crank and a close look to see the death of the Sims.

Employees of Electronic Arts heard about the quality and originality of Parsons students' work and thought collaboration would be a perfect fit. "This project started a year ago," said Jack Lew, Global University Relations Manager for Art Talent at EA, "And I know by the reputation of Parsons that the artwork wouldn't be easy or safe."

Jessi Kempin, a junior from Parsons won $1,500 in the Open category for her piece "Accessorizing.�"The work shows a gray body, but on top there is a colorful head decorated with a Sims suburban house and a giraffe. Kempin said she wanted to, "Bring color into a colorless world."

The event runs until May 12 at 556 West 22nd Street.

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