‘ARCADE ART: exploring the space between chaos and control’ – RETROSPECTIVE SPECIAL


Back in 2015, when I started ‘Retrollection.net’ one of the first articles I wrote was a review of possibly my favourite arcade game, ‘Gyruss’. When researching and looking for ideas for images to use, I came across the fantastic work of Rosemarie Fiore.

Rosemarie is an artist working out of New York, who has created some fantastic artwork based on time-lapse photography of arcade games in action. They are fascinating and really convey the movement of the games in a way I had never seen before.. ..her work captures both the movement, frantic nature and fluidity of the games really well.

I really wanted to include one of Rosemarie’s images when I originally wrote the ‘Gyruss’ article, but as I had only just started the blog, I don’t think I had the confidence to ask.

However, now that the blog is growing, with just under 15K hits, I have gained a bit more confidence and contacted Rosemarie to see if I could include one of her images in an amended version of my original article. She was not only more than happy to oblige, she was really friendly and approachable.

Looking through Rosemarie’s portfolio her work on ‘Gyruss’ represents just a ‘snapshot’ of her talents and she has many other works that are related to retro gaming. As such, I am delighted to be able to share with you some more of Rosemaries images and also asked her a series of questions about her artwork.

So in this special retrospective we will be taking a look at some of Rosemaries work, finding out about how she creates her art and exploring the connection between arcade art and the space that exists between chaos and control.

RF Gyruss 1 2001

“Gyruss 1” (2001) Digital Lamda print, 30 x 30 in © Rosemarie Fiore Studio

Retrollection white transparent R SMALL

: Can you tell me a little about your background and how you got into art?
RF: I’ve been interested in art ever since I can remember. I received my degree in Studio Art and Art History from the University of Virginia studying at the Wimbledon School of Art, London and SACI, Florence, Italy. I received my MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

RF Tempest 1 2001

“Tempest 1” (2001) Digital c print, 4 x 6 ft © Rosemarie Fiore Studio

Retrollection white transparent R SMALL

: You have a very diverse portfolio of work, what would you hope that people to take away from your work?
RF: All my work investigates the space that exists between chaos and control. As an artist, I am interested in investigating marks created by machines and popular technology. I do this by turning technology into drawing and painting tools. I work collaboratively with these tools by dictating the parameters for how marks are expressed or manipulated. The works generated by these tools are mostly 2 dimensional in the form of drawings, paintings and photographs.

RF Qix 8 2002

“Qix 8” (2002) Digital c print, 16 x 15 in © Rosemarie Fiore Studio

Retrollection white transparent R SMALL

: How did you come to work on creating art from video games?
RF: After graduate school, I moved back to NY in 2000 and lived in Brooklyn. My work drastically shifted in 2001 after the events on 9/11. I began thinking about war video games I played in the 1980’s, such as ‘Tempest’, ‘Battlezone’, ‘Gyruss’, and ‘Quantum’. These [mainly] vector-based game graphics are very abstract and produced rich, distinct unique images when photographed via long exposure.

RF Quantum 2 2002

“Quantum 2” (2002) Digital c print, 36 x 40 in © Rosemarie Fiore Studio

Retrollection white transparent R SMALL

: How did you create the images and what influenced your choice of games to photograph?
RF: I would play an entire game from start to finish. I opened the shutter as I began the game and closed it after I died. Each frame recorded one life.I was interested in creating long exposure photographs of my many lives in cyberspace.

RF Arcade NYC 2002.png

Rosemarie Fiore in a NYC arcade creating video game photographs © Rosemarie Fiore Studio

At first, I tried to create the photographs while in an actual arcade. But, the environmental conditions, such as overhead lights and glare made it hard to control the image to make it readable. As a result, I began working at home with MAME on my PC in order to have complete control over the work. The resulting images were much more powerful.
All the games I chose had to be [mainly] vector based and were related to war, war technology or invasion.

Insight – MAME?

It is interesting that Rosemarie decided to use MAME to record the images from the arcade games and I have mentioned MAME a lot in my blogs. For a retro gaming audience, it may need no introduction, but those reading this article from an artistic perspective may be wondering what MAME is?

MAME is an acronym for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator it is a free and open source emulator designed to recreate the hardware of arcade game systems in software on modern personal computers and other platforms. The aim of MAME is to be a reference to the inner workings of the emulated arcade machines; the ability to actually play the games is considered “a nice side effect“.

The first public MAME release was by Nicola Salmoria on February 5, 1997. The emulator now supports over seven thousand unique games and ten thousand actual ROM image sets, though not all of the supported games are playable.

Retrollection white transparent R SMALL

: From a retro gaming perspective as well as an artistic one, your pinball work is just as fascinating as the video games and seems like a huge undertaking. Can you tell me how you came up with idea and describe the process of creating the artwork?
RF: I began the ‘Evel Knievel’ Pinball Paintings directly before the video game photographs. I had just finished a project harnessing the motion of my car’s rear windshield wiper to create paintings and wanted to explore the same motion as made with the flippers of a pinball machine. I developed the pinball painting work for an exhibition in St. Paul, MN. First, I considered the type of machine. It had to be one level, easy to take apart with no computer components. I focused on the machines I grew up with in the 70’s as most had a simple universal format. I soon discovered that there are hundreds of games like this each had different art graphics depending on the name of the machine.
The hardest part of the project development was choosing which pinball machine to use. I liked so many of the classic Bally machines, but I was instantly drawn to ‘Evel Knievel’. It had cool graphics and as a child he fascinated me. I think it’s because he often attempted jumps that were impossible. This meant that there was a 100% chance of crashing. The idea of attempting the impossible is a very universal, basic and human endeavour. After a lot of consideration, I settled on this machine.

RF Pinball 2002.png

‘Evel Knievel’ Pinball Machine Paintings, studio documentation (2002) oil on vellum Photo credit: Monika Goetz © Rosemarie Fiore Studio

I found and bought a machine and dismantled it. I removed the glass and protected the play-field and bumpers from paint splashing. My canvas was cut to the size and shape of the play-field and inserted into the machine. Then, I painted each of the three balls using red, white and blue oil paint respectively. Each ball equalled one play and each painting equalled three plays (a complete game). After my game finished, I took the painting out and inserted a new canvas.
When removed from the machine, the canvas looks similar to an elongated skull with blue, red and white veins running through it. Every painting contains a different mixture of the three colours. Each is unique and a direct outcome of my game playing decisions. When exhibited, the work is installed on the wall behind pinball machine glass.

RF EK Pinball 2002

“Evel Knievel Pinball Paintings” (2002) oil on vellum, size and shape of machine’s playboard. Installation: “Rosemarie Fiore: Painting, Performance and Machines”, 2008 Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, VA. Photo credit: Stacey Evens Photography © Rosemarie Fiore Studio

Retrollection white transparent R SMALL

: Do you enjoy gaming and if so, what do you like to play?
RF: Yes, pretty much anything, I especially enjoy trying out the newest games.

Retrollection white transparent R SMALL

: You have many other diverse works (e.g. the blown glass, scrambler and smoke paintings), which in many ways seem to be much bigger projects than the video games and pinball’s. What are you particularly proud of and why?
RF: I really love all the projects I’ve worked on. If I were to choose one in particular: it would be my Smoke Paintings. In many ways, it combines different aspects from all my previous projects. This work utilises smoke from colour smoke device fireworks to paint with. I’ve been working with the smoke as a medium since 2002 and have designed, engineered and fabricated many different types of tools which harness the smoke. This work has led to many exhibitions, performances and collaborations.

Retrollection white transparent R SMALL

: What are you working on at the moment?
RF: Currently, I am working on a series of new Smoke Painting Tools that I’ll be using in the studio starting next month.

Retrollection white transparent R SMALL

: How can people get in contact with you or see your work?
RF: People can contact and see work directly via: Rosemarie Fiore Studio at www.rosemariefiore.com or Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles.

Many thanks to Rosemarie for allowing me to showcase her art and her detailed insight into how she creates her work; exploring the fascinating connection between arcade art and the space that exists between chaos and control.

You may want to check out some of her other work at her gallery, it’s fantastic and goes well beyond the use of time lapse photography, video games and pinball.. ..it really is exceptional work!

Fair use

MAME® is a registered trademark of Gregory Ember. All Rights Reserved. Used under fair dealing and fair use for research and commentary purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended. Please refer to the ‘Welcome to Retrollection‘ page for full terms and conditions.

All of the images used in this article are courtesy of and © Rosemarie Fiore Studio, New York City.

CC logo

Sharing of content from this article is to be in accordance with the ‘Creative Commonsattribution, non-commercial and share-alike licence agreements.

Page layout, original text, images and design are © 2019 Dr Woody and Retrollection.net.You Tube Avatar


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s