Discussion of movies and ReelThoughts topics

It is currently Sat Sep 20, 2014 12:20 am




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 72 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next
April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake" 
Author Message
Site Admin

Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:55 pm
Posts: 3151
Location: Mount Laurel, NJ, USA
Post April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Click here to read topic.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:08 pm
Profile WWW
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
FYI: Bit of a typo in the first line

Quote:
Roger Ebert is the E.F. Hutton of the entertainment-based blogosphere: We he "talks," people listen


I suppose that should read "When".

As for my thoughts on the MGM-motto titled Reelthoughts...

I wonder why Ebert is re-hashing this. It's quite obvious that he won't change anyone's opinion. He also knew that it would raise another shit storm. Perhaps he wanted said shit storm? For the most part I agree too. There hasn't been a game that I would call "art". But eventually there has to be one. Taking this stance is a bit snobbish.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:32 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Quote:
Not all paintings are art. Not all music is art. Not all movies are art, especially if they are made by Michael Bay


:lol:


Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:38 pm
Gaffer

Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:29 pm
Posts: 6
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
I find it hard to believe that someone as smart as Ebert is confused as to why gamers are passionate about this. If cinema was struggling to escape a comic-book-style ghetto and one of the most respected critics of the day dismissed it as not only art, but never being capable of being art, does he seriously not think that he'd be writing essay after essay in its defense?

But ultimately, I find the whole "art" debate already passe and exhausting. There's no good definition of 'art' and arguing about it just ends up going around in circles. I've found games beautiful and moving -- moreso than poetry, to be sure. Does that make games 'art' and poetry not? Of course not, because it's all in the eye of the beholder. I don't get why exploring the beauty of a virtual environment is any less worthy of 'art' than exploring the beauty of a sculpture or painting or photograph. But evidently some people feel that way, and won't be persuaded otherwise. I don't get what that kind of closed-mindedness gets you.

I really like Ebert, but he really should be self-aware enough to know when he's writing about something about which he's woefully uninformed.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:39 pm
Profile
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
I figured Shadow of the Colossus would be the one game everyone brings up, since it's basically travelling from location to location with only 16 boss battles as the "action." Moreso than other games, it encourages you to take in the atmosphere instead of blowing through it.

But really, who cares whether or not video games are art? They're supposed to be fun. Some of them (like the Metal Gear series, which I'm frankly amazed gets left out of this discussion) engage with great thematic content as well, but art? Don't know. Don't care.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:13 pm
Second Unit Director

Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:52 pm
Posts: 274
Location: North Carolina
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
ed_metal_head wrote:
I wonder why Ebert is re-hashing this.


From his article, it would appear that Ebert is specifically responding, point-by-point, to a seminar given at USC by a video game designer who, in turn, was refuting some of Ebert's previous points on the subject. From reading it, my impression is that Ebert is trying to be deliberately confrontational by taking such a dogmatic stance; it doesn't strike me as elitist.

From my perspective as an occasional gamer, I have no opinion whatsoever. It doesn't matter in the least to me whether any of the games I play represent art; they simply have to be fun.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:33 pm
Profile
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
How is a computer generated landscape in a video game, like World of Warcraft for example, any different than a computer generated landscape in a movie, like Avatar? Can't both be visually stunning and artistic? In the movie, I have to go along with whatever the characters are doing. In a video game, I get to decide. I joked with a friend at Avatar that he's level 60 now, he gets a flying mount. Hell, he's even on a different planet, just like in Warcraft.

Likewise, I can understand why he might not think it's art if you're looking at the latest incarnation of the Madden NFL series or whatever baseball game comes out. After a depressing 20-0 loss, I can turn on a video game and make the Pirates win a World Series. No art there, it's just fake sports. Not a whole lot different than the games I had in 1994 or 1995.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:00 pm
Gaffer

Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 5:50 am
Posts: 37
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
To be honest, I lost a chunk of respect for Ebert when he posted this---not because I care whether or not video games should be classified as art---but because his blog post shows me why I have such a sour taste in my mouth whenever I think about college arts majors.

For the record, I love the arts. I love discussing philosophy and literature---but where many arts students begin to lose focus is when they write a big paper on essentially something that is a definition. What is the point of having a big ol' discussion about whether or not video games is art when the very discussion rests on your definition of art?

As I pointed out in my comment, the discussion of whether video games is art or not, is akin to the discussion of exactly how many hairs does it take for a person to be labeled as bald. Is it ten? Is it twelve? What a silly discussion. As James pointed out, some things are clearly art (just as some people are clearly bald), but video games rest in the fuzzy boundaries of the definition.

I've reproduced my comment on Ebert's site below:
Quote:
This has always been a ridiculous debate about semantics and the meaning of a word.

Luike Bailey said above that:
Simply put though, you [Ebert] did nothing in this article except deconstruct and dismiss Santiago's definition of art

Ebert:
I think I had a sorta definition lurking in there somewhere..

Um. Sorry, no, you didn't. You posited several ways of defining art, but in the end, you deferred to your personal opinion about how you felt about the three games presented in the video. This mixture of subjective and objective opinions is what causes the most confusion.

In philosophy, there is a famous way of illustrating the vagueness of words. Take the word "baldness". Now you and I both know what baldness means. If I walked you down the street, and pointed out different people, you could surely tell me who's bald and who isn't. However, what is the technical, rigorous definition of baldness? Is someone who has 1-10 hairs on their head bald? What about 13? What about 25? Where do we draw the line? There is an unresolvable fuzziness behind the use of the word "bald". Most of the time, it doesn't limit our ability to use the word. Everybody knows how to use the word "bald" and yet nobody knows the correct definition.

This debate about art is much the same way as the debate over what baldness means. The trouble, of course, is that video games lie (at least for the moment) somewhere in the murky region where nobody is quite sure.

However, that said, what's the point? You're all basically arguing about a word in which nobody has defined. There is one way to sort it out---a deferrel to authority. Let me present the following definition of art.

Definition 1: Roger Ebert is a Pulitzer Prize winner and thus obviously an authority on art. He has stated that video games are not art.

Fine. So you accept that someone has imposed a definition on the word. This definition states that video games are not art. And that's it.

Not good enough for you? Let me propose a different definition.

Definition 2: Each year, poll a statistically significant number of a given population (like the United States). Ask them to decide: "Are video games an art? Yes/No". Whatever decision wins shall be adopted as the definition.

As I said, this is the silliest debate in the world. The only way to resolve it is for an authority (or a majority, or whomever) to propose a definition that the rest of the world adopts.


And I don't mean to start a debate on the merits of studying Arts and studying Science. But generally, the scientists understand the futility of debating the merits of a definition.

Either define art as including video games or don't. End of discussion. It would greatly please me if Ebert just had the balls to say: "Hey, I'm a Pulitzer Prize winner and therefore an expert on what is considered art. I henceforth define video games as not-art".

To me, that's a lot less disturbing than all that waffle.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:05 pm
Profile
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
I'll just say this as you pretty much covered it all. I have my own definition of art and Shadow resides in that spot. But even if someone else says it doesn't I have a strong feeling that Ebert would not consider such great pieces of film such as Die Hard, Avatar, The Matrix maybe? District 9? Are these primarily action films art by most critics definition? Is Austin Powers art? I love these films, and maybe I myself would consider them art under my wide range, but IF they are not art then like you said "WHO CARES!" I loved what I saw, I loved the experience. That's good enough for me. It doesn't require a label. Would I like a consistency to the term "art". Sure, but I can live without it.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:19 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
"with a baby on the way"

Grats JB.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:30 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
JB, when you mentioned playing Dragon Age: Origins, I thought "Kick ASS!". If you haven't already done so, you gotta get the expansion, Dragon Age: Awakenings. If any game companies deserve to be referred to as artists, Bioware would have to be among them along with Blizzard. :)

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to add: Ebert sucks.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:09 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
I like this quote:

"Do in life what enriches and fulfills, whether or not it's artistic. When you're dead, no one will care."


Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:09 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
The last time I played a video game was about a decade ago - The Sims, and I lost interest in about 2 hours. I've never owned a console and don't see anything ever changing that. I just don't enjoy video games and get impatient with the ones that have looked the most exciting.

That being said, the amount of design that goes into a game (from the simplest programming to the extremely sophisticated math required to get complete interaction with a character) easily qualifies video games as art. Math is art; a creative implementation of codes has to be employed in order to, at the end of the line, immerse a player.

So, as a complete game outsider, I can appreciate games as finally tuned creations. Whether the involved player thinks "this is art" when he or she is engaged with a game hardly matters -- the fact remains that a person is transported by a carefully designed creative work. That's the definition of art.

Ebert is mistaken as he's comparing video games, active participatory entertainment, with things that are engaging in a more obviously "cerebral" capacity. I'd argue that, especially when a player is figuring out how a game works, they're as stimulated as someone reading Tolstoy and savoring the nuances.

The neurology backs this up; when someone plays a game for the first time their minds light up across the board. From simple, unconscious things to more evolved responses they show a similar level of neural engagement to those people admiring the work of Bach.

I might not enjoy video games but that's a matter of preference, not disregard for those things I deem "below me". Ebert can be downright arrogant and his dismissal of video games smacks of antiquated and constricted notions of what makes for art.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:38 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Ebert has better, more intelligent understanding of art in film than anyone ever has. Yes.

He does come across rather silly here, though, given how little he knows about the subject.

I agree with him that there has yet to be a game that is art, but I think that day is coming, and hopefully soon.

Obviously some images from games are artistic, but that's a silly argument: a picture of anything can be art. There's a better case for basketball as art than something like God of War. But a video game as art will happen.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:41 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
I really don't understand why Ebert persists in making an argument about which he has little knowledge. If you look at a sophisticated video game like Braid and claim that it's not art, then most movies are also not art, period. So now what? There's an arbitrary line by which some movies can be called art and some cannot? This is a slipperly slope argument which can only lead us to a "no true scostman" situation, insofar as you end up in a situation where nothing qualifies as "real art."

And heck, even Pong can qualify as "art." If we had no video games, and someone invented a Pong machine and billed it as an "interactive art installation," people would derive artistic merit and meaning from it. We only poo-poo it because it's mundane to us now. But why does it not qualify as art?

Actually, I just went to look at his article, and I was outraged! He ALREADY knows about Braid, and yet he didn't address ONE WORD about it in his article. What the hell? Now I'm just downright confused. Is he just taunting us at this point?

He also provides us no way of comparing video games with other forms of artistry, let alone comparing existing forms of artistry with each other. How do you compare the greatest works in music with the greatest works in painting or sculpture? If you can't answer that question, how can you say that the great works of video games don't compare?


Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:48 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Quote:
I agree with him that there has yet to be a game that is art


I don't get this at all. If you don't think Braid or Flower are art, then what exactly do you require for a video game to be art? You seem to be setting a higher standard for video games than we impose on all other artforms. Most movies don't attain the level of sophistication of these video games (heck, many Hollywood movies don't attain the level of sophistication of the Super Mario games), and yet wouldn't you call them art? If you think a Three Stooges movie is art and Braid is not, then we've got a major definitional problem.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:50 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
As mentioned, the reason that gamers get so incensed over accusations that video games are not art is because it represents an elitist attitude towards games and the people that play them. Video games have been trying to shake the notion that they are "simply for kids, and grown men that live in their parents basements" for at least a decade now, and when someone with the notoriety of Ebert says things like "video games will never be art in our lifetime" it's going to piss people off, especially since it reinforces stereotypes that have been hard fought to be shed. Ebert should probably keep in mind what his reaction would be, were someone to come up to him and say "all film can never be considered art" -- I have a hunch that it would be pretty similar to the thousands of commentators mad at his blog post.

Ebert can have his beliefs because I know that he has never played games like Shadow of the Colossus, God of War, BioShock, Mass Effect 1 & 2, Heavy Rain, and a host of other games that I consider worthy of the term art. At the end of the day, all Ebert's position does is reaffirm the generational disconnects between Gen X & Y and the Boomers. It irritates me to all hell that he has to take the position he does, but I realize that it is due far more to a lack of first-hand knowledge and general ignorance on the subject than anything else.

I think video games can be and are art, just like I believe pretty much anything can be and is art. To say that something can't be is just you trying to force your worldview on someone else. I don't think of math equations as art, but I don't hold it against anyone who does.

EDIT: It's funny, I've been waiting for this ReelThoughts post ever since I read Ebert's blog post. Glad you didn't disappoint, James.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:59 pm
Gaffer

Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:29 pm
Posts: 6
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
I'd be very curious as to which films Ebert thinks qualify as art, and exactly why he thinks so.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:26 pm
Profile
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Quote:
God of War 3 is in the pipeline but, with a baby on the way, who knows when I'll get around to playing it?


Congratulations, James.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:29 pm
Site Admin

Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:55 pm
Posts: 3151
Location: Mount Laurel, NJ, USA
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Francois Tremblay wrote:
Quote:
I agree with him that there has yet to be a game that is art


I don't get this at all. If you don't think Braid or Flower are art, then what exactly do you require for a video game to be art? You seem to be setting a higher standard for video games than we impose on all other artforms. Most movies don't attain the level of sophistication of these video games (heck, many Hollywood movies don't attain the level of sophistication of the Super Mario games), and yet wouldn't you call them art? If you think a Three Stooges movie is art and Braid is not, then we've got a major definitional problem.


I don't think any THREE STOOGES film is art. In fact, the number of films I would define as "art" is woefully small. I think AVATAR is a great movie, but I don't think it's art. I'm about as miserly with the descriptor of "art" as I am with four-star ratings.

For the record, I have never played Braid, so I have no basis to claim whether it is or is not art. I probably should have written that I have not yet encountered a game that would qualify as art.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:47 pm
Profile WWW
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 72 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by Vjacheslav Trushkin for Free Forum/DivisionCore.
Translated by Xaphos © 2007, 2008, 2009 phpBB.fr