Look, I’ve covered a lot of videogame museums in my time with RPS. It’s fitting, then, that I’d eventually cover a virtual art gallery of literally everything. Released for free this weekend, The Anything Gallery is exactly that – an exhibition of anything you want, curating from any phrase you enter before its wings skew off into weird and wild tangents stretching infinitely in every direction.
Released for free over on Itch last weekend, Jan Malitschek’s procgen’d gallery is an exhibition pulled together from whatever search term you fancy. The “game” opens on a pedestal with two doors – enter a word or phrase, and those doors will open to reveal a sprawling collection based on your input, rendered in all-too-familiar PS1-inspired retro visuals.
Want an art gallery devoted entirely to Britain’s favourite sausage roll™? That’s you sorted in the header. Want to fire up a shrine to the fantastic cast of Deep Space 9? Buddy, you better believe I’ve got a free ticket to that exhibition right here. Need a self-indulgent museum of your own tweets? Knock yourself out, but I’m not putting that in this post.
More than just pulling images for the gallery’s walls, the game also pulls web pages for text plinths, YouTube videos for small viewing cinemas. I queried one of my own games as a term, and it delivered an achievement guide for our Switch port in glorious, shimmering low-definition.
The gallery doesn’t just stop at what you enter, mind. Instead, your input is more of a seed from which the building can branch off in different directions, pulling in all sorts of weird, tangential directions. A search for “squid” may lead to a calamari wing, or an octopus wing, or diverge into Minecraft or Splatoon or fried seafood, with each of those then splitting into new spaces.
It’s a little broken at times. I’d frequently see the backs of another room intruding into the one I’m standing in, or encounter dead-ends due to a poorly-placed bamboo plant. But a quick F5 will reset the entire building, and besides – alongside the wobbling vagueness of the chosen lo-fi aesthetic, it all lends to the sense of a glitchy, artificial museum dreamed up by a machine. Which is a mood, I reckon.
Yes, it’s missing the sense of proper curation you get from things like Louie Zong’s crowdsourced Bird gallery, or that lockpicking exhibition I seem to have willed into existence. But that eclectic curation is the point this time ’round, and that makes The Anything Gallery well worth a quick visit.