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What does art mean to you?

Discussion in 'Not Pokémon' started by Ortheore, Oct 5, 2016.

  1. Ortheore

    Ortheore Host Emeritus

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    Today I was thinking about Vektor's recent album, Terminal Redux. It's widely regarded as a masterpiece and will probably be album of the year for a lot of people. For me though, thrash metal has never really been my thing. The album doesn't click with me on an emotional level, and I don't even know what the lyrics are about so conceptually idk. Nonetheless I enjoy the album a lot, not so much because it conforms with what I like but because it's so damn good.

    I've observed similar dynamics in video games, where I regard a game as being objectively good despite not particularly enjoying it. Most main Mario games fit the bill, Chrono Trigger does as well. I didn't find much enjoyment in them in the way that I normally do out of games or art, but nonetheless are so well designed that I can't help but appreciate them. From this I realised that I was looking for specific experiences in art which didn't quite encompass all that art can do, and that I simply wasn't appreciating good design.

    So what are some of the ways that you enjoy or appreciate art? How does it affect you? To what extent is there objectively good or bad art? Are there some forms of creative media that might not be considered art?

    At one point I thought of art as being a means of self-expression or as a means to explore different concepts. 1984 is a good example of this, as it expresses very strong views in a range of areas while others are presented more ambiguously, encouraging the reader to think about what's being discussed. That idea ran into a few issues, notably with music, which is definitely art but for me doesn't often make it past an emotional response (although it can be very nuanced). So I expanded my idea of art to cover that, but still it feels deficient, as I mentioned of the above examples.

    Another interesting area is creative media vs art, particularly as it pertains to gaming. Few people would disagree that games like Journey and Bioshock are art. What about your generic AAA game? Yeah, that's probably still art, and the existence of a generic mainstream is far from unique to gaming. What about esports? These are games that typically sacrifice artistic merit in order to focus on providing a good competitive system. What of say, Minecraft? Is that an artwork in and of itself or is its own medium (or both)? What about shitty time-wasters like say, Angry Birds? Are they art?

    Idk, just interesting stuff to think about tbh. What do you guys think?
     
  2. Disaster Area

    Disaster Area Little Ball of Furr and Power Member

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    I think all forms of creative media have the capacity to be art, and I guess other than the most basic of cases should be considered it.

    Anyway I'll share here actually one of my favourite games, unlike most games it's a flash game, and it's not too long, and I think that it almost is more a piece of art than a video game. Just play it and see.

    The Company of Myself
     
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  3. Ortheore

    Ortheore Host Emeritus

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    Ok, had a quick playthrough of it, I can definitely see where you're coming from. It reminds me a lot of The Beginner's Guide.

    Perhaps I worded the question in bold about creative media poorly. I guess I meant more that different sorts of works, despite being in a medium that is considered art, might not be considered art themselves. But then, if we're quick to label some works art and others not, are presenting a scenario where worthy works aren't viewed accordingly?
     
  4. Disaster Area

    Disaster Area Little Ball of Furr and Power Member

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    It's worth playing it through to the end fwiw.

    And art is forever subjective, you can debate about what art is or isn't but it ultimately comes down to a personal viewpoint rather than any kind of definition.
     
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  5. marcoasd

    marcoasd P.I.P. PLAY IN PEACE Host Emeritus

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    And here it goes, these days we have a lot more of non-artists who just try to sell as much as they can: art doesn't mix well with marketing, as I think that most people have no taste.
    This is the biggest issue I find these days: it looks to me like you really have to dig low outside of the mainstream stuff to find valuable things.
     
  6. Bedschibaer

    Bedschibaer officially retired from bo1 rby Member

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    Defining art is a ridiculous task, let me tell you that and academia tends to just define it as broadly as possible. Every product of intellect, creativity, impression or expression can be considered art in some way or form. I personally think it's the intent that defines it and that also gives me the best possible way of access to things like concept art, action art, etc. You might want to read stuff on people like Joseph Beuys, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, John Cage. People who did certain pieces that don't really require much skill to execute, but stand for a protest against conventions, actually break conventions in that phenomenon that is known as art or on really basic concepts that people before did not question, like the language itself in the case of Brinkmann, the difference of sound, music and noise in the case of Cage. The intent behind the product is what actually defines art. Here is a little joke that actually sums it up pretty nicely though:
    [​IMG]

    On the subject of objectivity, I don't think there is something like real objectivity, there is only the question of acclaim. Forms of art have certain guidemarks though and as a recipient you automatically compare a certain piece of art to other pieces in the same form. If you notice something is well made, uses certain stylistic elements, shows good and skillful execution or has a really good idea behind it you can recognize it as that, even if it doesn't "do it" for you on a personal, or emotional standpoint. Music is a really good example for that and I for one have a really hard time appreciating classical symphonies. I did study music theory a bit though and I can acknowledge things like complexity, harmony, idea, etc and actually judge roughly if it's a good piece of art or not. Metal has tons of good examples for this too where you don't really like the music on a personal level but you can acknowledge the sheer technicality of execution, think of djent for example. At least that's how I experience that.

    Video games are sort of a complicated issue since they merge aspects of art and aspects of technicality. If you try to discuss a video game as art you can't just look at the audiovisuals. Those are conventional art forms but they are usually not the real focus of games, the real act of art is often behind the scenes in the programming, the game design, the worldbuilding, the storytelling, etc. Video games actually merge so many forms of art into each other that I think they have huge potential as art and there are good examples for "art-games" some that even hit the maisntream in the last years.

    On the topic of mainstream vs personalized: I think that the intent is again the defining factor for me here. Many mainstream artists sell. That's just what they make their money with and it reflects in the art as they pander it to an as big as possible audience, try to make it as generic as possible and therefor as accessible as possible. For me personally when I realize that is the main intent of the art, to sell as many copies as possible that puts me off. That doesn't mean that everything that is popular is shit, because that definitely isn't the case. I think there is also a big factor on the recipients end there because there can be different intentions behind consuming art. There is a difference when I sit down in my living room and put on a jazz record to when I want to hear an upbeat tune on the radio in my car in the morning. Popular sort of has a negative connotation now because of how the habits of consuming art change over time. The main consumers don't listen to albums, they listen to songs. They don't buy physical media, they use streaming services where they have access to single songs by different artists chosen by themselves. Books fall out of favor over time because the main form of narrative media shifted over to movies. You can notice trends in the topics of art too. Nobody really cares about a gay love song like in the 90s anymore, the topics of pop songs are mostly partying because it panders towards a certain clientele. That isn't neccessary a bad thing because everyone consumes art differently though.
     
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  7. Ortheore

    Ortheore Host Emeritus

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    Hmm Beds I think you're right in that it's a little ridiculous and that a definition of art ought to be as broad as possible, even if that means a definition is largely meaningless. However I guess the reason I sought to do it at all is that perceiving a piece of art as "artsy" influences how I enjoy it. A random example would be the Transformers movies; if I were to treat them as "art" I would be sorely disappointed because they lack a lot of merit in that regard, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying it as a generic action movie, with lots of fighting and explosions and general excitement. Or at least, it didn't stop me when I was like 14, I'm not interested in them now.

    I guess now that I'm thinking of it, the relationship between your idea of a given work and your actual experience of it is interesting. I initially didn't enjoy Quantum of Solace because I heard someone at school say it wasn't good, but then when I later expressed that view and was asked why, I found I had no valid reason. Likewise I had Arcturus (avant-garde metal) come up in a bunch of music recommendation sites, and so I listened to Sham Mirrors, expecting in-your-face weirdness like I'd get from say, Unexpect. Didn't get that and I didn't like it, but then for some reason (idk why) I scrolled down the yt comments and someone called it space metal and suddenly it clicked and I enjoyed it a lot more. That your idea of something can influence your experience of that thing I think is obvious, but to what extent can we mitigate these biases and adopt, idk a more universal mindset when approaching these things?

    The big issue with intent as a defining characteristic is that we can only guess what the intent really is. Even among pop artists there's plenty of room for debate, since for some it may seem obvious that they're only in it to sell their product, while others may genuinely be trying to make good music that happens to have all the hallmarks of a mainstream product. I feel comfortable in saying that the Assassin's Creed series falls into the former category, while the Deus Ex games I would say are in the latter category, but really there's no objective truth to be had, even if it were so black and white. You could make all kinds of arguments, both of the work itself and its context (e.g. Assassin's Creed's release schedule) but ultimately it's your interpretation of things, never mind the fact that the author probably didn't perfectly express themselves.

    Definitely pop can have some negative connotations though, which is another thing. It ties in with the whole "selling out" thing, but for me at least I get the feeling that its influence over my tastes far outweighs its justification. An example I experienced was when I happened to listen to Call of the Mountain by Eluveitie. I couldn't help but feel like the band was compromising their music in order to make it more "pop" based on the song's structure (probably doesn't help that I listen to a lot of prog). Is this a rational response? Idk, like I can kinda justify but first, they're bloody folk metal they're not gonna be played on every radio station all the time any time soon and second, did it actually impact on their music? Probably not, they sound fine, but the whole time I was questioning their music

    edit: added links for music
     
  8. PhilosopherKing

    PhilosopherKing Member

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    To avoid the trouble of depending on arguments from the intent of an artist to distinguish good and bad art, I think it would be more helpful to define art as the creative expression of harmonious patterns within a medium. In the context of art, to be harmonious simply refers to that which is compatible and works well together. I believe such a definition captures the objectivity and subjectivity of art. Its objectivity is grounded in the fact that art must cater to our senses in some way. For example, regardless of the human actor, playing a fourth in a major chord sounds terrible compared to playing the third. This is because the sound waves of the third are harmonious to our ears. In addition, art must be ordered into recognizable patterns. Otherwise, there would be no way distinguish art from pure randomness.Thus, when we say some form of art is good, what we are really saying is that there is a proficient weaving of harmonious patterns. Bad art would be the opposite.

    Of course, how and when these harmonious patterns should be utilized is dependent upon the vision of the artist. As such, it is here that the subjectivity of art comes into play. There is such a plethora of harmonious patterns that creativity of the artist is needed. In addition, the recipient of the artist engages in subjectivity when the interpreting the meaning of the art.
     

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