Call it harmless nostalgia or stunted culture, but the past is ever-present
in contemporary society. In few places is this more evident than in the idealization of 8-bit. The visual and audio aesthetic has been reborn in pop culture
, album packaging
, and even prime time
. Now, it’s being applied across media arts, as innovators increasingly apply the out-of-date digital treatment to forward-thinking works.
Mark Ferrari Landscapes:
Usually identifiable by a hyper-pixelated appearance, the 8-bit aesthetic was recently elevated in a series of digital landscapes by artist and videogame veteran Mark Ferrari
. Using color cycling
, an animation technique that allows 8-bit to surpass its graphic limitations through some visual trickery, Ferrari rendered images of nature that defy the blocky quality of classic 8-bit. The collection runs on HTML5
as the Web platform of the future—but in spite of this modern foundation, the effect is decidedly nostalgic. Surveying the animated landscapes, replete with flowing waterfalls and rippling waves, children of the ’90s
might experience a sudden wistfulness for their favorite adventure games
Though not the first tech tool for making music on the go
(see: Mogees), the Mixtape Alpha may be the most endearing. This pocket-sized 8-bit synth resembles the iconic mixtape, right down to its label-maker-inspired logo. The Alpha boasts an impressive range of capabilities for its size: four voices, four effects, and five notes allow a decent breadth of experimentation. Intrepid music-makers can hack the device to yield other, weirder sounds in an acknowledged ode to circuit bending
. Users can record songs directly onto the synth and listen via headphone output—meaning the practice of trading tangible mixtapes may be on the verge of a comeback.