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April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake" 
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Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Honestly, i've long stopped caring about Ebert's narrow-minded opinion on video games, it's hard to take anything he says in that article seriously. Anyways I would say most entertainment has some form of art in one way or another, just not necessarily in the way that Ebert defines it. Besides, I personally don't like "art" films(by which I mean the ones that play in art houses) one bit as they bore the living hell out of me, so to me that Michael Bay comment came across as a compliment of the highest order.


Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:12 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
This is art.
Image

This is art.
Image

This is art.
Image

This is art.
Image

Is this art?
Image

Sorry for this scaling issues, I know this isn't 4chan :)


Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:38 am
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
No, but this might be:

Image


Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:39 am
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Francois Tremblay wrote:
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."


Ebert has made clear many times - in the most recent article and elsewhere - that MOST movies are not art. So i'ts not like he just labels all movies as art.

Francois Tremblay wrote:
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?


Now that's a flawed argument, my friend.

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 think that Braid and Flower have artistic images. Sure. You could hang some screenshots from them on your wall and that's certainly art. But as a whole experience, I see no art. I don't learn anything about myself, others, or the world. I see no great insight. For me, it's not art, and not close to being so. You're continuing to make wildly flawed statements and are putting words in my mouth. I think that maybe 2% of movies are art. I don't think a movie like Avatar or Armageddon or The Dark Knight are is any more or less "real art" than a video game is "real art."


Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:01 am
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Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Ragnarok73 wrote:
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.


Art is subjective to anyone. I like movies and video games, but I wouldn't condier any video games I've played as art. With that said, video games are taking a closer step to being mentioned as art, but we play the game to move forward instead of the games playing itself out. I don't invest any emotion to the characters when I'm controlling them, so the ending, while beautiful and haunting, is more or less a moot point.

P.S. Ebert is still the shit.


Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:05 am
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Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
I don't see the point of his column other than to refute someone's opinion on a shared topic. We already knew his POV on games beforehand, so rehashing it is moot.


Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:10 am
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Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
The Dark Lord raises three points of interest for me:

1. The definition of "art," which, to me, is the central issue around which this argument swirls. In science, there is a requirement that before something can be studied or debated, it must first be precisely defined. There must be an operational definition. If people can't agree on what something is, then they can't be sure that they're independently studying the same thing. That's kind of what's happening here. If Ebert's definition of art is different from my definition of art, then there's nothing we can do for each other by arguing for our separate opinions.

Having said that, my definition of art is about as broad as it gets, and to me, it has never been a question that video games are art. I'm with Frank Zappa: if an artist imposes the "frame" of art upon something--anything--then it is technically art. This is necessarily separating the category of art from all the value judgments that are commonly associated with it.

2. Why is it so important to figure out why video games are art or why they aren't? It's simple: we're human beings. We seek patterns, categories, labels, and so forth. It's an activity that helps us to compartmentalize our experiences of an essentially random and indifferent universe, to enable ourselves to understand it a little better. If we do it for so many other things, then why not with video games?

3. As long as we're on the subject of definitions, Hizzoner need not be so hard on himself with the word "contrarian," which I understand to mean somebody who is inclined to contradict others by nature. Having an opinion and making an argument for it is no such crime. For further reference, see "The Argument Clinic" from Monty Python's Flying Circus.


Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:13 am
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
The whole argument is futile. There is no generally accepted definition of art. In the strictest, classicist sense, even movies aren't considered art.

Personally, I'd suggest that anything can be art if it is presented in an artistic context. Someone brought up the example of setting up a pong machine in an art gallery. Yup, that's art. The same machine in a mall isn't. Otherwise, why could a picture of a can of Campbell's tomato soup ever be considered anything but an advertisment?

I don't understand the furor directed against Ebert's opinion, though. What do people gain from describing videogames as art? If something is described as art, it doesn't necessarily means its good or even widely respected. Do you think pantomime is great because it is considered art?

The underlying issue seems to be about the respectability of video games. Defining them as art - correctly or not - is leading nowhere in this respect. Gamers should rather point out, that video games can be sport, if played competitively, like chess. Nobody is disrespecting chess grandmasters, because they aren't artists.


Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:29 am
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Ragnarok73 wrote:
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.


Let's not forget that Bioware are responsible for SW:Knights of the old republic series, two gr8 games that hooked me into RPGs (finished Mass Effect, starting ME2; Origins after that). Also, those 2 RPGs alongwith the 3 jedi knight games, are the best products churned out by Lucasarts after Empire Strikes Back.

Ebert has never even played a video game, he should know better than to talk about it.


Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:37 am
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
d0rk_Vad3r wrote:
Ebert has never even played a video game, he should know better than to talk about it.
This resembles a disturbingly large amount of the anti-Ebert backlash over this.

Listen: whether or not Ebert has played video games is completely irrelevant if you look at what he's actually arguing. Those protesting his ignorance would do well to mind their own.


Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:42 am
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
http://www.youtube.com/v/9PnHzD1gPak

Now, no more talk of Ebert not playing a video game ever.


Mon Apr 26, 2010 12:52 pm
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Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
If images make you feel emotion and give you an experience beyond fight or flight, I think it's apt to say it has an artistic quality.

Regarding film though, I always detested the term "art house" film. Applying that label to it is almost always the most pretentious bullcrap. Everytime I have made a film and someone described it as "arty" I wanted to punch them in the face....

I prefer imaginative :)


Mon Apr 26, 2010 12:58 pm
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Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
James! Congrats on the baby. Good luck.


Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:49 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
I don't post much but I have to speak out here.

Games CAN be art.
Not just beacuse the term "Art" is so vague, that it can incorporate everything from classical paintings and sculptures up to a dead shark in a fishtank - but because You can find the same manner of visual, emotional and technical accomplishment in other mediums, such as movies, books,.... and games.

I would suggest to anyone with some PC gaming experience to try out the game The Void by Ice-Pick Lodge
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Void_%28video_game%29

There are games that try to have artistic aspirations and there are those, who actually reach an artistic level.

The Void is such a game.


Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:51 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
The only definition of art that seems to have any compelling weight is "something is art if someone says it is art", I was just at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where a performance artist had an exhibit where she sat in a chair and the "art" was the experience of observing her sitting there, or sitting in a chair across from her. While I was initially skeptical, damned if I could not justify any argument claiming that it wasn't art by definition of what art was, because that definition of art is entirely subjective.

However, someone who makes a claim that something is not art, is never trying to revise the definition of art. Usually they are making a simple value judgment. In this particular case, Ebert may say he does not feel that all movies are art, but he surely would say that some have risen to that level, and such is the level he wishes movies would aspire to. Now, when he says "video games can never be art" despite hedging on the use of never, all he's really doing is denigrating the video game as a medium, and by extension, anyone who considers their experience playing them to have been more than simple entertainment.

Feeling the insult that lies behind the statement "video games can never be art" serious gamers have responded angrily. All I have to say on the subject is that it's a shame that Ebert lacks the ability to appreciate video games for what they are, interactive visual art.


Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:33 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Quote:
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.


Fair enough. I agree with you about the Three Stooges: it's entertainment, not art, to me, although it is also my belief that anything could be art in the right context. As for Avatar, I haven't seen it, although I think I would disagree with you on that. I'll have to see it first, I guess.


Quote:
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.


Then what WOULD make you qualify a video game as art? If your definition is not falsifiable, then it's useless.


Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:35 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Quote:
Ebert has made clear many times - in the most recent article and elsewhere - that MOST movies are not art. So i'ts not like he just labels all movies as art.


Then what line do you draw, and how does it end up so high that NO video game ever made is included, but SOME movies are?


Quote:
Now that's a flawed argument, my friend.


I know it's a flawed argument. That's why I am objecting to it.


Quote:
I think that Braid and Flower have artistic images. Sure. You could hang some screenshots from them on your wall and that's certainly art. But as a whole experience, I see no art. I don't learn anything about myself, others, or the world. I see no great insight.


I think your definition does not correspond to the general usage of the word, by a long shot. Pretty much all of what people call art is not art, and a lot of what people don't call art becomes art, if we accept your definition. It is a very strange definition. Would you qualify science as art as well? It certainly teaches us about ourselves, others, and the world. It has "great insights." Buddhism has "great insights" as well, but is it art?


Quote:
I think that maybe 2% of movies are art.


Could you tell us a movie which you consider art, and what you learned from it or what great insights you gained from it?


Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:43 pm
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Funny you should take an uncalled for yet predictable dig at Michael Bay as he directed one of my favourite movies, in terms of it's cinematography.


Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:04 am
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Dragonbeard wrote:
Funny you should take an uncalled for yet predictable dig at Michael Bay as he directed one of my favourite movies, in terms of it's cinematography.


What movie would this be? The Rock?


Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:34 am
Post Re: April 25, 2010: "Art for Art's Sake"
Patrick wrote:
http://www.youtube.com/v/9PnHzD1gPak

Now, no more talk of Ebert not playing a video game ever.



As a gamer, that was actually painful to watch. No wonder he doesn't think highly of games.

On a side note, what about the creators of a game, can they be called artists? Hideo Kojima, Fumito Ueda, just to throw in a couple of names.


Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:16 pm
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