The Ever-Cool 8-Bit Aesthetic

The Evolution of 8-Bit Art is the newest video from the PBS YouTube series, Off Book, which is a web-original series exploring innovative art that comes out every other Wednesday. 8-bit comes from a specific era and type of technology from the late 1970s to early 1990s which, because of the newness of digital technology at the time, the aesthetic qualities both in sound and visuals were very limited.

Although the technology has become obsolete, 8-bit culture endures. Doctor Octoroc in the YouTube video says, “it is a very unique style born from limitation, and it has stood the test of time.” Increasingly, artists find the limitations of 8-bit tools, the cultural memory around video games and computing of that time, and the DIY culture that accompanied it a fertile ground for artistic creation.

Invader in London, image from Wikipedia.
Invader in London (image from Wikipedia)

8-bit has come to have many different meanings for different people; Minus Baby, a musician featured in “The Evolution of 8-bit Art” said, “I was really excited to make music with gear that sounded like my childhood.” Whereas the band members of Anamanaguchi are too young to remember most of the technology responsible for their sound quality. Similarily, I think of artwork by Cory Arcangel or Invader before old Gameboys.

If you have not watched any of the videos in the Off Book series, I recommend starting with Culture of Reddit and Animated GIFs: The Birth of a Medium.

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