Video Game Art Will Take Over the Convention Center

To kick-off this year's PAX East, designers are putting on a digital show.

With PAX East, the video-game centric event held annually at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, gearing up to make a triumphant return next month, seven artists with an eye for digital content have been diligently working away on projects so that their masterpieces can be prominently displayed in front of tens of thousands of attendees.

Beginning March 20, seven new works of art will be broadcast on the six-story, multi-screen marquee that overlooks Boston’s Innovation District, each inspired by popular video games and overall gaming culture. The display showcase, known as “Art on the Marquee,” is a collaboration between the Boston Cyberarts and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, the agency that hosts PAX East each year.

“As urban screens become ubiquitous worldwide, the ‘Art on the Marquee’ initiative at the BCEC expands the use of dynamic digital displays for public media art in one of Boston’s most rapidly developing public spaces,” said Cyberarts Director George Fifield of the use of the space.

Fish McGill, an area designer and producer, has teamed up with friend Jeff Bartell to create a simulation that mimics early adopters of the industry. Titled “Trashtroids,” McGill said the display is “a riff on the game ‘Frogger’” and the popular Atari game “Asteroids,” which depicts a futuristic world where trash is strewn throughout the galaxy and spaceships are forced to maneuver the atmosphere to avoid getting hit by the debris.

This is the second year in a row that McGill will have his digital artwork featured on the towering big-screen, which welcomes more than 70,000 gamers that flock the PAX East convention annually, from April 11 to 13. “The first time I saw it last year, it was this incredible shocking moment,” he said. “You’re building something and designing it and you see it on your tiny computer screen. But then to see it on a six-story tall marquee, in bright lights, and have that many people see your work, it really is incredible.”

From start to finish it took just four weeks for McGill and his partner to get their idea finished up and become just one of several featured displays geared toward gamers that pays tribute to the industry in some way.

Other concepts include “Human Testbrix,” by Jeffu Warmouth, which depicts human bodies taking the form of Tetris blocks as they fall from the top of the marquee and fit together. Eben McCue’s “Super Life,” an 8-bit style video game simulation that shows the lifespan of a human from baby to “game over” will also be cycled through the weekend on the large screens. All of the artists and designers picked to have their digital artwork displayed during the PAX East convention either attended local art schools, or reside in the area.

“The Art on the Marquee is evidence that Boston welcomes new types of dynamic art by featuring it prominently in the BCEC,” McGill said. “I’m especially proud that so many aspiring young artists and game designers get to see the creative talents featured on the marquee for PAX.”

A sneak peek of the work will be shown during an opening at the convention center on March 20.