Friday, November 30, 2007

Things to Consider

I'm still seeing
this whole "Are videogames art?" thing all over the internet, from serious discussions to parodies to outright mockery.

I've found one constant between all of these discussions: all of them assume that art has to be good.

I know I've talked about this before, that old X of Y Postulate. Where is the Mona Lisa of videogames?

But think about it. There is a lot of really shitty art out there, and yet plenty of people will accept it as art. When I see some enterprising Norwegian who has wrapped a building in cellophane and says it is a deep musing on human calamity, I can at least say, "Pretentious, moronic, insulting, ridiculous and absolute shit. But its art."

We really just need to remember that shitty art is still art.


I've kind of arrived at a way that I recognize art. I look for the intersection of technical knowledge with aesthetics for the purpose of expression.

Think about architecture. There are architects who are considered artists, because they used an intimate understanding of their craft and combined it with an exploration of their aesthetics and created something that aided their own self-expression.

What about painting? I can paint. Anyone can. It's a craft. What makes those museum pictures art-worthy is that someone used their internal processes of judgment to create a thing appealing to their own nature.


I'll say it one more time to break it down:

When people do the whole videogames vs. art debate, the art they use as a comparison is always a fucking masterpiece. But masterpieces constitute maybe .1% of every kind of art ever created in recorded history. Even some of the masters only made one or two masterpieces and a bunch of humdrum crap. Not every Shakespeare play is a hit.

Videogames are art. It isn't a big deal, so why do people treat it like it's some crazy unknown thing? Oh god, they're interactive, how can they be art? Oh god, they're commercial products, it's as if Andy Warhol never existed? Oh god, a medium in its infancy doesn't compare to music, which has had thousands of years to mature, or film, which has had over a century, or photography, over 150 years, or painting, or architecture.

Can we get over it? Then maybe we might be able to talk about how to make it better. And maybe someday get a masterpiece.

But even if we don't, big deal. Shitty art, which is most of it, still has value.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Just a tangential comment, but my friend Boon calls shitty art "fart" to distinguish it from more appealing art works. :)

The problem with videogames as art is not that they don't qualify, as clearly they do, but that one requires a tremendous amount of game literacy to appreciate most games in artistic terms.

What we're missing is an artistic-leaning game which could be enjoyed by anyone - and I'm doubtful we'll get this.

But since modern art requires tremendous art literacy to appreciate (otherwise it seems like a lot of fart) there is a distinct parallel to be drawn here.

Best wishes!