whitebox as in gallery, pixel as in video game
the whitebox is a special-purpose computer build to preserve and expose the history of console video game design. this project also revolves around the idea of educated criticism; it aims to facilitate a dialogue between the understudied history of the medium, the general public and future video game designers.
this gaming machine allows you, or in this case me, to curate selections of video games and present them to the public under the theoretical umbrella of an art exhibition; with whatever credibility that tired concept adds. with this setup you can for example: offer the public every unlicensed game made for NES to play with, or a selection of all the work made by Gunpei Yokoi or even the worst games from the golden age of arcades. the possibilities for critical crisscrossing are fun and endless.
this system relies on the use of emulators; an emulator "duplicates (provides an emulation of) the functions of one system using a different system"(wikipedia) so these emulators run ROM files: image dump files of the read-only memory chip from old game cartridges or arcade machines. the act of creating an ROM image simplifies the archiving and preservation of older software. to the companies that own these games as intellectual property you are only allowed to use ROMs created by yourself, if you own a physical copy of the game or if it isn't protected by the entertainment software association (ESA). under the current ridiculously one sided copyright laws digital sharing of ROMs is in fact very illegal. Hence me not offering any links to websites where ROMs can be obtained; for this google and bit torrent are your very good friends.
but then again, I don't see any companies trying to create a cohesive and widespread open-to-the public archive of video games for educational purposes either. maybe then we wouldn't have so many crap games ;)
this project was developed for the launch of NASA: Newark Artist Space Association, and I have to thank NYCResistor and Hackinteractive for all the much appreciated help.
To find out more about the first curated exhibition visit the project page.