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Author Topic: Video Games are officially recognized as an Art form.  (Read 10913 times)

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Offline Noelle

Re: Video Games are officially recognized as an Art form.
« Reply #75 on: June 01, 2011, 08:08:37 PM »
Question for Noelle or for anyone else who holds this view --

People do certain things with certain works of art, things they would not do with other works of art, or with things that are not art.  How are people to determine which things to do those things with, that is, which things to treat as art?  If, for example, certain artists are being awarded grants by the government based on an assessment of the merit of their work, how should the government decide who gets the money?

For example, what's to keep a bunch of plumbers or mechanics or engineers from snatching up all the NEA grants to fund their "art"?  Similarly, what's to keep a bunch of terrible artists from doing the same and leaving better artists without grants?

These aren't facetious questions or argument for argument's sake.  It seems to me that there are practical problems with the definition of art given above.  I'm curious how those practical problems can be surmounted without making at least a provisional attempt at defining art vs. non-art, and -- trickier still -- defining good art vs. less-good art.  My guess is that the definition above is useless when it comes to most practical applications.  It's a fine definition unless and until one actually needs a definition, but it's not very helpful in any of those circumstances.  Agree?  Disagree?

This is a good -- and relevant question. Mostly, there is no universal answer, at least none that I can think of. Since the postmodern era, art has become largely about the intent for it to be art. There's a clever little saying in the art world -- Modern art = "I could've done that" + "Yeah, but you didn't". There were plenty of movements that tried to define what art "is" as well as "high vs. low" art forms. This is where a pretentious sense of sophistication comes in -- only a certain, small group of people ever decides what high art is, and those are the people with enough money, power, influence, or all of the above to decide what gets put on display. It comes down to personal taste, or as Banksy has so eloquently put it, "The Art we look at is made by only a select few. A small group create, promote, purchase, exhibit and decide the success of Art. Only a few hundred people in the world have any real say. When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires..."

Granted, I don't doubt that many of these people have some kind of grounding in art/art history enough to make decent decisions, but as I said earlier...I hate Matisse and Picasso, I think Matisse's paper cuttings in particular are boring clutter and I wouldn't put them in any museum of mine, but someone found importance in them, and maybe that's what it comes down to, not to mention its overall cultural impact, certainly its vision, and its intent. If an engineer or a plumber could demonstrate that their art is primarily art and not primarily plumbing or engineering or some other discipline, I wouldn't have an issue seeing a grant go to them, but then they would be artists and not plumbers or engineers!

Anybody can find what they do to be art in some form, after all, kindergarteners don't feel too discouraged by the existence of Monet to play with fingerpaints, but I'd wager that most critics are more concerned with the level of skill, development, message, and execution. The hardest part is that 'art' is such a hugely encompassing category, about on par with saying 'science' -- there are hundreds of categories and sub-categories within...visual arts, performance art, writing, music, acting...I see things like grants ultimately as being a product of a limited -- but educated scope of opinions, but those opinions only have bearing on that grant and not actually defining what you do as art or not. If you see grants and other monetary compensations or public notoriety as a sign of validation that what you're doing is art, I suppose it matters, but for the rest of us, we plod on.

Offline Jude

Re: Video Games are officially recognized as an Art form.
« Reply #76 on: June 01, 2011, 09:54:19 PM »
Before everything was considered art the debate was about what is or isn't art.  Now that everything is considered art, the debate is about what is or isn't good art.  Essentially nothing has changed, and Rick's question is the same question that persisted before, only now we can admit that art itself is too subject to define and we are engaging in something that is self-admittedly subjective (determining what good art is).

Remember, just because Video Games are art doesn't mean that they're good art.  But then again there's LA Noire, which is basically an awesome Hollywood-quality film, so that's a difficult generalization to make :D
« Last Edit: June 01, 2011, 09:55:24 PM by Jude »

Offline Chocolate Sin

Re: Video Games are officially recognized as an Art form.
« Reply #77 on: June 01, 2011, 11:14:39 PM »
When I think of video games as art, I'm reminded of the legions of plays which incorporate audience participation into their performance. Does the audience's ability to interact with the characters of the play make it somehow not art? It doesn't seem as though that would be sufficient. Similarly, video games can be thought of as interactive theatre of a sort, which can allow for a great deal of (Minecraft) or very little (MGS4) audience participation. And it seems that not only does encouraging audience participation not disqualify video games, it makes them a hell of a lot of fun to interact with because it allows people to make their own experience, much as one might in a freestyle rap battle (which is also art).

Offline rick957

Re: Video Games are officially recognized as an Art form.
« Reply #78 on: June 02, 2011, 01:21:28 PM »
Buh -- Now waitaminute, Jude.  Who's this "we" you're talking about?  :)  Personally I have no problem with the idea of art having an objective definition, and I think good art has all kinds of identifiable features that differentiate it from shitty art.  Although I also think that the definition of art that Noelle mentioned -- roughly speaking, that it's all in the eye of the beholder, all subjective, essentially indefinable -- from what I can tell, that seems to be the prevailing popular definition, at least in academia, which is where people are most likely to fret over things like defining art or defining good art vs. bad art.

Noelle -- your response seemed very well-considered and reasonable, but I still have a logical complaint with your view, as I understand it, which goes something like this:  in practical circumstances, people do differentiate between art vs. non-art, and good art vs. bad art.  They do so anytime they decide whether to watch a movie or play basketball instead.  They do so anytime they decide which movie to watch, or which book to read.  The NEA does so when they decide which artists qualify as artists (sorry, um ... which artist organizations qualify -- thank you Oniya) (were you being snarky?  sounded a bit snarky to me!  ;)  ), or which artists are more deserving of grants than other, less promising or less gifted artists. 

If you study what it is that people like or don't like about art or a piece of art -- say, the works of Picasso -- you can identify a set of features that characterize good art, and a different set of features that characterize bad art; and you can identify a set of features that differentiate art from non-art.  Taken together, those features comprise a practical, working definition, one that is used as an objective reference point for making real-world decisions about what to do with art.

Claiming that art can only be defined subjectively by each individual is to give it a non-definition, a definition that is not useful in most situations in which one needs a definition, and those situations are the only relevant circumstances in which the definition of art matters. 

I'm playing devil's advocate a bit here, overstating my case -- there is value in recognizing the importance of the audience's response as a means of determining what is art or what is good art.  There's also value in recognizing the incredibly wide array of things to which people respond in a way that resembles their response to art.

I've been mulling over my definition of art while perusing this thread, but for the most part, I don't have a neat, nailed-down definition, but I do have many particular characteristics that I associate with art as opposed to non-art, and good as opposed to shitty art.  Also, so far, the most compelling statement I've seen in this thread that points toward what I consider a valid definition of art is this one, from Jude -- a statement which, perhaps ironically, is probably in pretty good keeping with the definition of art Noelle cited, which I disagreed with:

Quote
I definitely have more attachment to video games than I have to other works of art.  ...
To me, video games are art, because that's how I respond to them.

There's something to that, I think.

Offline NotoriusBEN

Re: Video Games are officially recognized as an Art form.
« Reply #79 on: June 02, 2011, 04:21:50 PM »
So then how do we decide who gets an art grant and who doesnt? Seems like a crapshoot to me, unless we wire everyone together to get a group consensus of what is or is not art. ?.?

Even then, if everyone were together in such a think box, everything would be considered art by a portion of the consensus, but then, how much of a percentage would be needed to allow a grant and be fair?

And as I consider this, it would lead to artists trying to cater to the masses to have a better chance of being accepted than by radical artists that could care less about group consensus, but would still need the money...

Its a lot of ifs and buts, and Im not going to defend any of my statements, just something that is on my mind.... stupid subjectivity...

Offline Noelle

Re: Video Games are officially recognized as an Art form.
« Reply #80 on: June 02, 2011, 09:52:46 PM »
Noelle -- your response seemed very well-considered and reasonable, but I still have a logical complaint with your view, as I understand it, which goes something like this:  in practical circumstances, people do differentiate between art vs. non-art, and good art vs. bad art.  They do so anytime they decide whether to watch a movie or play basketball instead.  They do so anytime they decide which movie to watch, or which book to read.  The NEA does so when they decide which artists qualify as artists (sorry, um ... which artist organizations qualify -- thank you Oniya) (were you being snarky?  sounded a bit snarky to me!  ;)  ), or which artists are more deserving of grants than other, less promising or less gifted artists. 

Of course they do, and of course the response isn't entirely logical. In fact, in many aspects, defining art is infuriatingly counterintuitive because it tends to be that people will certainly claim they "know" art when they see it -- and that's perfectly valid to them and it works, but it is not universal. You know a cat when you see it -- no matter what language you call it, that thing is still a cat no matter how hard you want to deny its biology. Art, on the other hand, is a fluid, slippery thing. Certainly a person knows art when they see it because by its very definition, one person can make it art.

But that's easy enough to say when it's art that's relatively tame.

It becomes more challenging when you start digging into territory that is not art as we come to know it...Not as sterile, nonoffensive pictures on the wall or lifeless sculptures more suited for decoration, but rather as something that can make you uncomfortable, angry, shocked, horrified, or even conversely inspired to action. Joseph Beuys made art that was blatantly intended to be social; by influencing others to take social action, his art was not only a performance art, but every action, every thing that his students did from there on out was also his art, as well -- he set it in motion, like dominoes, and his message, teachings, and ultimately his artistry is reflected in their work, in a way that he continues to live on. He inspired a mass planting of trees around Germany that continues with a new group even today. It was his main belief that anyone -- literally anyone could be an artist and that art was conversely meant to be accessible to anyone. His art was often just his chalkboard alone after one lesson, as he was a teacher as well as an artist.

This makes it awfully ambiguous, wouldn't you say? This is a clear example of someone using something like planting trees as a way to provoke thought and make a tangible change in his environment. His artistry isn't necessarily in the outcome, but the process, which is a dramatic shift from art before the mid-20th century or so, which was more focused on the end result. Art is not just a measurable result, but an action, as well, or art as a verb.

Quote
If you study what it is that people like or don't like about art or a piece of art -- say, the works of Picasso -- you can identify a set of features that characterize good art, and a different set of features that characterize bad art; and you can identify a set of features that differentiate art from non-art.  Taken together, those features comprise a practical, working definition, one that is used as an objective reference point for making real-world decisions about what to do with art.

Claiming that art can only be defined subjectively by each individual is to give it a non-definition, a definition that is not useful in most situations in which one needs a definition, and those situations are the only relevant circumstances in which the definition of art matters. 

But why do we need an objective definition, and is it practical for art itself? Clement Greenberg tried his damndest to pin down a list of medium-specific rules and force a standard of art. Paintings could not be anything but perfectly flat -- if your paint built up on the canvas, it technically became sculpture, and crossing mediums made art "impure". He tried to enforce a strict set of standards to "purify art", and some artists changed their course to fit with his criticisms, but ultimately his formalism fizzled out and, humorously enough, provoked a long line of movements thereafter that were directly reactionary to his stiff, uptight ideas and purposely shifted away from his attempts at pinning them down.

We live in a very fortunate era in that art has liberated itself to even allow us to have this conversation to begin with.

Truthfully, I went into all of my modern art classes with a set standard of expectations that weighed very unfairly against it. I hated it, I rejected everything about modern art. It was infuriating, incomprehensible, and pointless. I'm not sure what happened exactly, but I came out of the classes with an appreciation of the genius of modern art, even if I still hate the products. It's not always just about the eye-roll-worthy canvases painted a single color or the weird woman standing on a stage letting people cut clothing off of her (what's up, Yoko). Vacuum cleaners under glass is really just a knock on capitalism -- Jeff Koons didn't ask anyone to pay millions, and, in fact, one might even say he used it to point out the absurdity of art to begin with...and if we can agree that art is quite absurd, it's fair to say that art in of itself is an illogical, nonsensical thing...which is also precisely what Popes past have complained of, because postmodernism has seemingly destroyed any sense of meaning in objectivity.

Offline Wyrd

Re: Video Games are officially recognized as an Art form.
« Reply #81 on: June 02, 2011, 11:25:51 PM »
Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
Pasta is not a vegetable.

Lettuce is not a grain.

It is not the only quantifier at all, I agree.

We're missing the point on this one.

CREATION FOR PROFIT =/= Art

Art exists because it's art, not because the artist wanted to make money from it. Andy Warhol made his pop art because he wanted to. He got famous, sure, but that's not why he did his work.

Problem: The second example is the exact same piece of work viewed from a different angle. the former is not the exact same piece of work, and it's typically viewed from the same angle.

Having a different reaction to the same piece of art is not the same as getting the "good ending" vs "the bad ending." You can react to a game that's identical the last time you played in multiple different ways, that's how emotions work and can be applied to anything, including an oil stain on concrete. And that makes things "artistic" in your personal view but that doesn't quantify the oil stain as art, suddenly.

Now we are an artist giving our own rendition of another's art. This is different. That would be the equal of hacking and altering code, something which others told me was not okay. :p

Applied to literature: Fan-fiction

You'll find, if you ask anyone who works at a museum, has a job in art, is part of the community period they wont find this rule-set arbitrary or biased. And how am I biased? I play games and love them! I mean, I've even given examples of games that push the boundary of what art is, just like the rest of everyone who's played a game in the last 20 years.

Uh... you're aware that the thread is biased and is a very minor selection, yes? Go ask real people. People who play games AND do other stuff. People who don't play games, and don't go to a gallery. Though this is equal to Ebert's poll and proves nothing either way on the actual issue.

In the real world, no one cares about video games. In the real world, video games are for children. (Not that I agree with those mentalities, mind you). In the real world, video games, webisodes and all other kinds of things are as far away from art as you can get. I don't disagree with that one, though.

The manner it's done is the problem. Remember the "message" part of my criteria? In most cases "Tits and blood" are for shock value and exploitation, that's it. There isn't a message other than "OMG Tits" and "OMG Blood" most of the time. I like Zombie Grindhouse type stuff, but I wouldn't call it art... remember?

I'm going to put it this way: A commodity is not art, it's a commodity. A commodity has no soul. A commodity has no purpose other than to feed pockets. A commodity is what KILLS art and drags away what art is supposed to be. Any artist will tell you that. Any artist who hears people singing into voicetone correct will roll their eyes. Any artist who sees a weak Photoshop c/p will call art thief. Such things are deemed not art by even the smallest of art communities.

Making money off your talent is FANTASTIC. But abusing your talents for the soul purpose of cashing in is ugly and takes away a drastic feeling of what art has always been. Those designers, those musicians, those character artists make TONS of designs that never even touch the game... why? Because their deigns WONT SELL! In fact, when a creative idea DOESN'T sell, all further ideas that might have sprang from it are killed. Art doesn't need a publisher. Art just is. A video game's soul purpose 9/10 is "Make money." Not express an idea, not tell a story. Money should be secondary in art and it's something that must be primary in video games because their process is so involved.

Yeah that's not "modern media" either. :p The message in those photos or paintings wasn't "Hey look, boobies!" I'm sure.

I was, and still am, referring to "modern media." Which includes "The Blockbuster" and "The Single." It also includes video games. Safe, easy to consume, mass produced, money making not-art.

lol!