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Ebert: Video Games Can Never Be Art
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Raoul DeGroot



Joined: 30 Apr 2009
Posts: 2438
Location: Son Quest
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Charlie Foxtrot wrote:
How about, instead, nothing is art?

Because art is a word that can never have a definition.


Nope. Nah, Nah.
By these Nancie Pancie, dip your toe in the water types of approaches, nothing can have a definition when you come right down to it.
-And that may be how it actually is and how it always actually will be-
But it's a useless place to go. Except as a way to reboot the system when things are getting too staid and calcified.

Consensus reality is all we have and so we must perpetually consensificate n shit.

Art can have some pretty stable definitions. -It does have some pretty stable definitions, actually.

Think about it using accuracy and precision.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accuracy_and_precision
There's one definition that is very precise (i.e. reproducible/encompassing) but not very accurate (too inclusive to distinguish itself from other human activities).
And ones on the other end of the spectrum that are very accurate (distinct and specific) but not precise (not as easily agreed upon across a range of people, because it excludes many things)

Here's where I start. I wrote this already in the thread. It's unfadeable. You can't stop it. It's the juggernaut.

1. There's a lot of things in the world that are products of the complexities of the human spirit and capacity and are deeply affecting because we know that about them.
Those are the things that fit into the broadest (and I think the best) definitions of Art. Sports, videogames, cars, comedy, cooking, weaving, cities, whatever.
As representations of what we are, those are all powerful things and if you look at em in the right light they can get you verklempt or hyped and add to your understanding of humanity and existence. The key is that their worth is not just their aesthetic or sensual value, but how they frame our existence and encapsulate all that we are and have been into a condensed form

2. Then there are things that, while still having that quality, purposefully and skillfully frame the human experience for us so that it's not just the subtext, but the main thrust of the activity. The actual language of the artwork is put together not to follow rules, or conform to a need, or to tickle the pleasure centers, but to look at some aspect of existence and make sense of it.
While the first definition allows for value to derived from the circumstances and ingenuity of how it was created and our reading of that, the second is about the truth (however fluid and brief truth is) of the content. Not the context.

I'd add that the second definition distinguishes itself from plain old understanding and communication through a greater use of abstraction and through the involvement of emotion and sensation to make the information get experienced more deeply and completely than simple A-B-C communication. (Though language of any sort is also going to be an abstraction).

i won, finished, and beat this game.

Post Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:29 pm
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kese



Joined: 16 Mar 2003
Posts: 5454
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Raoul DeGroot wrote:

i won, finished, and beat this game.




Lmao... http://www.800hotsauce.com/
Post Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:47 pm
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Charlie Foxtrot



Joined: 23 Jan 2008
Posts: 1379
Location: Rochester, NY
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Raoul DeGroot wrote:
Charlie Foxtrot wrote:
How about, instead, nothing is art?

Because art is a word that can never have a definition.


Nope. Nah, Nah.
By these Nancie Pancie, dip your toe in the water types of approaches, nothing can have a definition when you come right down to it.
-And that may be how it actually is and how it always actually will be-
But it's a useless place to go. Except as a way to reboot the system when things are getting too staid and calcified.

Consensus reality is all we have and so we must perpetually consensificate n shit.

Art can have some pretty stable definitions. -It does have some pretty stable definitions, actually.

Think about it using accuracy and precision.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accuracy_and_precision
There's one definition that is very precise (i.e. reproducible/encompassing) but not very accurate (too inclusive to distinguish itself from other human activities).
And ones on the other end of the spectrum that are very accurate (distinct and specific) but not precise (not as easily agreed upon across a range of people, because it excludes many things)

Here's where I start. I wrote this already in the thread. It's unfadeable. You can't stop it. It's the juggernaut.

1. There's a lot of things in the world that are products of the complexities of the human spirit and capacity and are deeply affecting because we know that about them.
Those are the things that fit into the broadest (and I think the best) definitions of Art. Sports, videogames, cars, comedy, cooking, weaving, cities, whatever.
As representations of what we are, those are all powerful things and if you look at em in the right light they can get you verklempt or hyped and add to your understanding of humanity and existence. The key is that their worth is not just their aesthetic or sensual value, but how they frame our existence and encapsulate all that we are and have been into a condensed form

2. Then there are things that, while still having that quality, purposefully and skillfully frame the human experience for us so that it's not just the subtext, but the main thrust of the activity. The actual language of the artwork is put together not to follow rules, or conform to a need, or to tickle the pleasure centers, but to look at some aspect of existence and make sense of it.
While the first definition allows for value to derived from the circumstances and ingenuity of how it was created and our reading of that, the second is about the truth (however fluid and brief truth is) of the content. Not the context.

I'd add that the second definition distinguishes itself from plain old understanding and communication through a greater use of abstraction and through the involvement of emotion and sensation to make the information get experienced more deeply and completely than simple A-B-C communication. (Though language of any sort is also going to be an abstraction).

i won, finished, and beat this game.




But you're still buying into the premise that defining what is and isn't art has value. But it doesn't. Whether or not a videogame can be considered art shouldn't affect your enjoyment of it. It would be bonkers to let it do so, or to watch movies the whole time with the question in the back of your mind, instead of just watching the damn thing.
Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:41 am
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Raoul DeGroot



Joined: 30 Apr 2009
Posts: 2438
Location: Son Quest
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Understanding and defining stuff is called civilization. You try and figure out what makes the world (as we experience it) tick and you communicate that to other people. That's valuable.

You can do that and still enjoy things. It's not a mutually exclusive set of activities.
Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:50 am
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Charlie Foxtrot



Joined: 23 Jan 2008
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Location: Rochester, NY
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You're making broad statements. What is the use of arguing about whether or not videogames are art, or whether or not anything is art, or what art is defined as?
Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:46 am
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Raoul DeGroot



Joined: 30 Apr 2009
Posts: 2438
Location: Son Quest
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Because it's a thing that people do. It's terms people use.

You don't live life dully silent, chewing your cud and passing gas. You have some engagement in the activities of people, you outrageous mofo.
Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:01 am
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jakethesnake
guy who cried about wrestling being real


Joined: 03 Feb 2006
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Video game "art". God I hope someone plays HoN.

Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:01 am
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Reggie



Joined: 01 Jul 2002
Posts: 5765
Location: Queens, NYC
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Charlie Foxtrot wrote:
But you're still buying into the premise that defining what is and isn't art has value. But it doesn't. Whether or not a videogame can be considered art shouldn't affect your enjoyment of it. It would be bonkers to let it do so, or to watch movies the whole time with the question in the back of your mind, instead of just watching the damn thing.


that's on you, blud. it's just a discussion. no one is saying video games aren't fun. in fact, if they are effective, they are always fun. they are supposed to be fun. if you are playing a video game and having fun, then the desired result has been achieved

"fun" isn't "art" though. neither is "a thing I like," necessarily. the Mona Lisa is art but it isn't really fun. I like Little Debbie's snack cakes but they aren't art. however, I do art the fuck out of some Little Debbie's snack cakes
Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:48 am
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sakredchao



Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 92
Location: haines, alaska
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everyone wants their toys to be validated. i can produce a glass tile by following a recipe that will be put in a gallery in under a month. (not might.. will.) it's splotches of color. art? i don't know. i'm not particularly passionate about it. it's good money. some people see it, love it, and acclaim it as beautiful art.

my passion lies more with maille. chess sets were brought up
http://www.chainmailbasket.com/galleries.php?CATID=11&PAGE=1
i consider david austin an artist who creates art. but, really, it's just copper and brass. it's me finding validation for my own toys.

i view writing, movies, music, video games, cooking, painting with much the same mind. some of it creates emotional response. some of it is executed cleverly.

google gives returns like "human creativity" or "form and content". by this definition, everything made by humans art. this makes me think the painting elephants are sad-faced.

people (creator and observer) want to call things art to validate it to people outside of themselves. "art" is not a concept that exists independent of people and their opinions.
Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 7:29 pm
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Brynjar



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
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Location: Rivertown
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jakethesnake wrote:
Video game "art". God I hope someone plays HoN


o/
Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 7:40 pm
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sparrow



Joined: 11 Aug 2009
Posts: 331
Location: stolen land, the place where spirits get eaten.
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this months issue of artnews mag

http://www.artnews.com/issues/article.asp?art_id=2910

In Bill Viola's new video game, players who slow down and relinquish control are rewarded with a spiritual journey
by Hilarie M. Sheets
The Night Journey, an experimental video game by Bill Viola, offers something quite different from the fast-paced, shoot-'em-up world of a typical video game. There are no aliens or terrorists taking aim, and if players' on-screen surrogates run too quickly in trying to advance to the game's next level, the landscape smears.
"It's a game that rewards you for slowing down and for introspection," says Viola, 59, a pioneer in the medium of video art for more than 35 years. "You're alone and you're not even told why you're there. You just fall out of the sky into the middle of this amazing landscape with mountains, sea, desert, and forest, and go wherever you want," he explains. "The more you do things mindfully, the more is revealed to you."
Gaming might seem an unlikely fit for Viola, known for installations that address life and death, consciousness and spirituality. The artist—who is graying, yet lean and youthful in jeans and a T-shirt—played video games with his kids when they were young, but he found the experience uninteresting. What did intrigue him, however, was the technology behind the games, as well as the concept of an interactive virtual realm. With the idea in mind of re-creating the experience of a journey toward enlightenment, Viola made his first attempt to develop a game with a San Francisco-based tech company a decade ago. The project petered out, because Viola felt it got mired in traditional video-game architecture.
But in 2005, one of the people he had collaborated with on the project connected him with the Game Innovation Lab, at the University of Southern California. "They were waiting for someone like me, and I was waiting for someone like them," says Viola, who lives in Long Beach, California, and conceptualizes all of his art through writing longhand in notebooks. Since then, he has brainstormed several times a year with programmers at USC to find ways of integrating images from his prior projects into a gaming environment that feels three-dimensional.
Viola wanted to model the look of his video game after his six-screen, room-size 1994 installation Pneuma, in which images emerge from and recede into shadowy surroundings. The installation was part of his recent exhibition at James Cohan Gallery in New York, "Bodies of Light," which showed works priced between $18,000 and $525,000. Pneuma was made with a black-and-white infrared surveillance camera that Viola bought for $250 at a swap meet in the late '70s. One of the video-game programmers at USC spent nine months digitally re-creating the film's grainy texture for The Night Journey's poetic landscape.
At certain points in the game, the screen goes black and the remote can no longer be used. "The idea that you have to relinquish control comes up in most spiritual traditions," says Viola, who is interested in the commonalities between Eastern and Western religions. With their power to direct the game removed, players can then sit back and watch "dreams" based on how they have moved through the game’s world up to that point. These dreams are created through a search engine, which compiles clips from Viola's archive of video work from the past 25 years. The visuals may be disconcerting (a dog lunging out of the darkness, a child walking alone) or beautiful. "The core of this world is dreams—not just the scary dream of being chased but dreams of ancient cultures," says Viola, who counts among his inspirations the writings of the Islamic mystic Rumi and the Greek philosopher Plotinus.
If players continue the game for long enough, their dream sequences acquire color and eventually carry them, along with a group of virtual people, through streams and toward a lighted pavilion. "It's like the transmigration of souls," says Viola, who shot the footage for that sequence when he and his wife and collaborator, Kira Perov, were looking at a nocturnal volcanic eruption in Hawaii.
While The Night Journey won't be finished until the middle of this year, it was previewed at the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool, as well as at several conventions, where it was field-tested by both aficionados and novices. "In the end, each of the groups were very satisfied," says Viola. He is still debating whether to distribute it as a commercial video game or make an edition solely for museums, where the public could engage with it.
The blend of the esoteric and the pragmatic in The Night Journey reflects the manner of the artist himself. Viola has a strikingly direct way of speaking about the most weighty experiences—including his own. The loss of his mother, in 1991, "affected my art dramatically," he says; it made him realize his work was about "life and death" rather than "esthetics or technology." This intensity informs all of his pieces, including the one he did for Durham Cathedral in England in 1996. In the monumentally scaled projection, called The Messenger, a bundle of light gradually assumes the shape of a man suspended in a deep pool of water. He breaks through the surface, opens his eyes, and gasps for air before receding back into the water. This startling metaphoric image of birth and extinction repeats several times.
The piece initially caused a controversy, because a moving image of a naked man could be considered pornographic under British law. The church leaders ultimately ruled on the work in "spiritual terms," as was reported to Viola, and unanimously agreed to install it in the cathedral.
The church subsequently sent The Messenger on the road to other countries and to churches around England. When it was shown at St. Paul's Cathedral in London in 2004, it prompted discussions between the church authorities and the artist about creating a permanent installation there. Last summer, St. Paul's announced that Viola would make two plasma-screen altarpieces for the cathedral's side chapels on the themes of Mary and the martyrs of Jesus, to be completed by 2012.
Mindful that these will function as both contemporary-art pieces and devotional objects, Viola is planning to configure wing panels on his screens that can be closed on hinges, in a manner similar to historical altarpieces. This is the first time Viola has accepted a commission with predetermined content—the chapels long ago had paintings of Mary and the martyrs—but he's found it exciting to study ancient visual and literary representations of these subjects, including in apocryphal texts. "One is concerned with women and the female energy, and the other with violence and sacrifice," says Viola, who is still distilling his research and intends to start shooting imagery later this year. "Those are pretty provocative themes in today's world."
Hilarie M. Sheets is a contributing editor of ARTnews.

Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:08 pm
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The Count



Joined: 26 May 2006
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Location: Chapel Hill
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Just beat Mass Effect 2. Pretty sweet, really can't wait for the third one.

Next I gotta get my hands on bayonetta.
Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:24 pm
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breakfast



Joined: 04 Oct 2006
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Raoul DeGroot wrote:


Then there are things that, while still having that quality, purposefully and skillfully frame the human experience for us so that it's not just the subtext, but the main thrust of the activity. The actual language of the artwork is put together not to follow rules, or conform to a need, or to tickle the pleasure centers, but to look at some aspect of existence and make sense of it.
While the first definition allows for value to derived from the circumstances and ingenuity of how it was created and our reading of that, the second is about the truth (however fluid and brief truth is) of the content. Not the context.

I'd add that the second definition distinguishes itself from plain old understanding and communication through a greater use of abstraction and through the involvement of emotion and sensation to make the information get experienced more deeply and completely than simple A-B-C communication. (Though language of any sort is also going to be an abstraction).



Doesn't this seem like a really contemporary definition though? You're assuming a priori that a lot of art has been created for the sole purpose of exposure as opposed to because it is pretty. A lot of "art" has been made solely to tickle the pleasure centers, and/or because the act of creation is itself a pleasure center tickler.
Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:51 pm
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Neuro
A champion of Kurtis SP


Joined: 19 Jul 2002
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my farts are works of art


argue THAT!

fuckfaces
Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:17 pm
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breakreep
homophobic yet curious


Joined: 27 Sep 2004
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icarus502 wrote:
If we think of them as an intervention in the experience of the world, something like the first films did over a hundred years ago, then we might actually make some conclusions about a world that seems to to — especially in video game form — discourage conclusions.


This seems kind of obvious, no? I think that this is what people are trying to say when they say (like I've said) things like "Novels weren't always art".

Also, Ebert did not return to his one semi-meritable argument on this topic from ages past: That the nature of art lay in the framing of an intent, wherein if that framing is not the only framing each time, the thing is not art. Given what he's put forward in this new effort, however, I can see why he excluded the old thesis: It directly contradicts the notion he holds here that things taken in intrinsically non-repeatable frames (e.g. dance) can be art. I also noticed that only breakfast seems to have touched on this so far (at least, so far as I've read in the thread), reminding me that we share so much more than a name.
Post Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:36 pm
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