A Different Kind Of Cubism: 5 Of The Most Innovative Tetris-inspired Artworks [Roundup]

The enduring appeal of <i>Tetris</i> isn't just limited to gamers.

Latest LummoBlocks exhibition @ FIESP building in Sao Paulo. Photo by: Bruno Mocca

Tetris is and has been available on nearly every type of video game console and computer system around. Not only that, you'll also find it on graphing calculators, phones, the sides of buildings, even watches. The puzzle game that involves you having to fit together falling blocks of differing sizes and shapes has been dubbed one of the (if not the) greatest games of all time, selling more than 125 million copies since its release back in 1984. Its cultural credentials have been further cemented by its inclusion in MoMA's first round of video games added to their Applied Design collection.

But it’s the sort of game that transcends culture and language—and is also the sort of game that provides a handy way to zap away a few hours of your precious time, especially if you were sat in a classroom playing it on a Game Boy back in the early 90s.

The game's enduring appeal goes way beyond the casual gamer and classrom slacker though, as the mysterious and appealing way those blocks fall from out of nowhere has served as inspiration to a number of artworks and projects based on the game.

Lummo, LummoBlocks

LummoBlocks took the usual solitary game of Tetris and added social interaction. The interactive public art installation projected the game onto a giant screen in Madrid’s Plaza de las Letra. Passersby could join the fun by walking across the plaza, which in turn would move and rotate the blocks in real time. Lummo count among their members Mar Canet, Jordi Puig, Carles Gutierrez and Javier Lloret—a selection of architects, industrial designers, and graphic artists—who feel that the most important component to Tetris' popularity has simply been the nostalgia factor. “If you ask random people to name the most famous video game, chances are Tetris will be mentioned the most,” they say. 

Sergej Hein, Berlin Block Tetris

Animator and motion designer Sergej Hein appropriated the blocky aesthetic of socialist architecture into a humorous game of Tetris in Berlin Block Tetris. Using After Effects, Hein created an impressive piece that serves as a commentary on the homogenous design of the former socialist building style. In an interview the animator pinpoints Tetris as a synonym for pop culture and believes “It reminds all of us of the beginning of digitalization”—when computers had just started to become a part of our daily lives. 

Ithaca Audio, Game Theory

Ithaca Audio, a creative audio studio, took a look back at 35 years of video games and picked some of their favorites for an audiovisual mashup. Game Theory seamlessly combines 19 iconic tracks from Tetris, Doctor Who, and other video game titles. The mashup was performed live on specially configured NES controllers, but it can be downloaded for free via their Facebook page. Enjoy. 

Gaen Koh, TAT-Tris

In celebration of everyone’s favorite childhood game, industrial designer Gaen Koh dreamed up a Tetris-inspired modular seating concept for kids. TAT-tris consists of multipurpose furniture that can be easily stacked and reconfigured. Along with the nostalgic nature of the game, Tetris’ approach to creating order and solving puzzles appealed to Koh on a deeper level. The highly versatile pieces were designed to help children work together and develop critical thinking skills through the act of building.

Chris Carlson, Tetris Stop Motion Chalk Art

In a low-fi take on the game, artist Chris Carlson created a 3D chalk art version and even went ahead and played a round. Being drawn in chalk it meant the whole round was much more laborious than just switching on your Game Boy and pushing a few buttons—but it's no less enduring.