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Artist Uses Pixelation To Represent Fading Memories

Much of artist Hollis Brown Thornton’s work invokes 8-bit gaming with its pixelated qualities and game references. Unlike some other artists, Thornton’s use of pixelation serves an additional purpose besides just looking cool.

Whether using old family photos, VHS tapes, or images from pop culture, Thornton enjoys the unique qualities pixelating a physical object can create and what it can represent.

“Whenever I use something from the past, either the pop culture images or family photos, I try to somehow change the image, perhaps obscure certain elements,” Thornton says. “I associate that with the way memory breaks down or simplifies, makes the past vague, perhaps altered by my personal experiences. It is one reason I enjoy converting a VHS box art to pixels. Part of it is the simplification and obscurity of specific details while maintaining the overall structure. At the same time, the pixels represent the change from physical to digital media.”

Thornton was inspired by 8-bit gaming, growing up when the Nintendo Entertainment System was released. “I think a lot of it is the charming visual simplicity of those games," he says. "I think that is one of the reasons a lot of younger people love Minecraft so much, that basic visual structure is easy to wrap your mind around.”

You can check out more of Thornton’s work on his website.

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