Art Deco

Art without style is like a pasty without pastry.


Today, I shall look at Art Deco and it’s influences on Bioshock.


Art Deco became popular in the 1920s, predominantly in large American cities. The style lead to very symmetrical designs of squares and rectangles, all in dry, low colours. Steel was a hot commodity back in those days, which is why the Art Deco movement heavily features steel sculptures. This style was supposed to replicate the shape and colours of a large, bustling metropolis.


Similar ideas can also be seen in the setting of Bioshock.


You can see the muted colour palette of squares and rectangles, all enwrapped in uncoloured steel.

The creators of Bioshock clearly looked to the Art Deco movement for stylisation. How else are you going to make a giant underwater city appear like a giant city? Well, make it look like every large city back in the 1920s – Bob’s your uncle.

It is easy to see that symmetry and the lack of symmetry took big precedence in Bioshock, if you were to remove the text on the left image, you would see that the image is symmetrical vertically, but not horizontally. You can see the same design theory on the right image – Symmetrical vertically, but not horizontally. The use of this also provides contrast between two segments, this is an age old technique used in visual storytelling, so it isn’t limited to just the Art Deco movement.


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