It's been 5 years since my last news post! but Pixel Day is a special day, so I wanted to write something :) I love this website so much, so this year I tried to make something meaningful. I'm so honored to work on this year’s site skin and banner for Pixel Day on Newgrounds! If you’re familiar with my previous Pixel Day illustrations, I’ve always depicted Newgrounds as a brightly-lit, illuminated cityscape. I love pixelling the signs and using them as an opportunity to pay homage to other artists.
While I still see Newgrounds as a space for generative creative expression, I also want to acknowledge the precarious state of the web. The internet has changed drastically since I first played games on Newgrounds. Over the past decades, the gentrification of the internet by certain companies (M*stercard, G**gle, App*e) has severely limited artists' ability to create and share their respective works.
One of the most notable examples of this is the trajectory of Adobe Flash. Steve Jobs strategically sabotaged Flash's reputation so Apple could have more control over app development and distribution.
In more recent years, the passing of FOSTA-SESTA in 2018 has led to increased policing and censorship of content on the web. This policy has resulted in aggressive automated moderation and the de-platforming of various individuals (remember Tumblr?). The various forms of algorithmic automation is not meant to prioritize users but to prioritize profit.
This year, the Pixel Day’s virtual internet city is a little fucked up structurally. The buildings are crumbling and falling apart. However, the signs are brightly lit and vegetation is growing. Despite the ruins, life and creativity still persist.
In the language of the organic and the digital, this year’s banner is heavily inspired by my favorite artist, Nam June Paik. Paik, Nam June is known as the grandfather of television art! He was active during the Fluxus movement, an international multi-media art movement that challenged the conventions of classical music, art, and education! Whenever I think about Newgrounds and the impact of Flash on the web, I can't help but think about Nam Jun Paik's optimism regarding technology: its potential to bridge knowledge and cultural experiences.
The future will always be uncertain, but I am grateful and hopeful. Newgrounds has always prioritized its artists and I’m very honored to be part of this community. Happy Pixel Day, everyone!
Recommended reading for people who wanna learn more art history:
* Nam June Park’s “Expanded Education for the Paperless Society”- an experimental essay written in 1970 where he imagines a future of free education and cultural transformation through tv networks. It's not too dissimilar to the internet today <:)
* Nathalie Lawhead’s “A short history of Flash & the forgotten Flash Website movement”- A transcript of Nathalie’s talk on the history of Flash and its impact on the web