Photographer capturing life in Milwaukee bit by bit

By Ryan Ward | October 10, 2022


For photographer Josh Arter, art can seem two-dimensional. Arter uses a device called a Game Boy Camera to take photos. It’s an attachment that was released in 1998 and fits on top of a Nintendo Game Boy.

“Nintendo knew what they were doing because the ball, the housing for the lens can spin 180 degrees,” Arter says. “So, you could take selfies. So they were, they were way ahead of their time.”

What’s not ahead of its time are the actual photos themselves. Arter describes the photos as “digital dirt”, as the images are completely made of pixels. The result is an almost magic eye approach to photography.

“Sometimes it’s like, you know, I take a picture and I’m like, oh, that’s going to look great,” Arter says. “And then when I get home and finally dump it off my Game Boy. It’s like, I don’t even know what I’m looking at.”

Arter bought the camera with the idea of capturing and showcasing the city of Milwaukee where he lives. He uses his lunch break at his marketing job to stroll the city and take photos of things that happen to catch his eye.

“There’s a lot to experience in the city,” Arter says. “And then, in turn, you know, with my camera, there’s a lot to capture.”

He shares the photos on an Instagram account called 8bitMKE, where he has close to 2,500 followers. So far, he’s shared hundreds of photos.

“This 8bitMKE project has just a really great way to highlight the city in a way that, you know, most people really aren’t familiar with,” says Arter.

For Josh, the entire project has been a mix of passion and nostalgia. Having grown up and playing video games his entire life.

“| put forth an extra effort, no matter where | am to always constantly be looking and seeing, you know, is there something that looks interesting?” Arter says. “Is there something composition wise, it could be really striking.”

Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward is a producer for the “Wisconsin Life” project and can rest easy after he finally found the perfect jar of homemade dill pickles at the farmer’s market in Madison. … just like his Grandma Shirley use to make!

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