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Blog I wrote a few years ago

Blog I wrote a few years ago
« on: February 04, 2012, 01:22:16 am »

AN ARTISTS INTENTIONS

...are irrelevant to everyone except the artist.
There's a video on youtube.com of David Lynch ranting about how it's "bullshit" that people watch movies on iPods. Sorry Mr. Lynch but what is bullshit is that you think that you can control your art once it's out in the wild.

You can't force people to see things the way you want. The best you can hope for is that at least a small portion of your message gets across to the viewer. Each person that sees it has a mind of their own and will come away with their own impression. Not only that but how your art is delivered can change over time. Paintings are reproduced in books, posters, coffee mugs. Music that was on vinyl disc is now listened to on mp3 players, heard in commercials, video games, and poorly produced youtube slideshows. Films that were seen on a screen with 200 other people in surround sound, are seen on VHS on a mono TV, DVD in 2.1 stereo and yes, even iPods with some crummy earbuds. Even if, for example, an artistic work hangs in a gallery and is never reproduced in any way, time will alter how the piece looks. Colors will fade, varnish will yellow. Ultimately it's the VIEWER, not the artist that determines how a work is delivered.

Art is a form of communication. Like any communication that hangs around for a long while, how people view it changes over time. The importance of any art is relevance to the viewer or listener, not the intentions of the artist. As with folk music, folk tales and urban legends, variations are introduced with each successive teller or performer. No two live stage performances of plays are alike. No two productions of the same play are alike. THIS IS NOT A BAD THING. People have always built upon others ideas so there is no such thing as an original thought. There's no such thing as original art.

The artist's idea, concept, first thought doesn't matter at all. Even the final concrete form it first takes doesn't matter. What the viewer or listener gets out of it, what they come away with is what really matters. What you as an artist want doesn't matter. You can rant against iPods, ebooks, crappy speakers, remixes or whatever new form or presentation a work of art takes over time but it doesn't mean a thing. Relevance is all that ultimately matters. You can't control how another person sees, interprets, manipulates or otherwise changes any work of art, whether in their mind or in the material world.

Artistic intentions, ideas and concepts are not sacred. If you don't like that, too bad because that is the reality of any artistic endeavor.
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2012, 03:46:15 am »

*slow clap*

Yep.  That's definitely been one of my journeys as an artist.  The less I try to control things(difficult!), the better my work gets.  Incidentally, this makes video games that much harder to excel in as a medium, since so many things have to be tightly controlled to make it work right.
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2012, 07:54:46 pm »

I see this as a feature of videogames, not an obstacle. With videogames, the spectator becomes a crucial element of the work. A lot of the design work centers around him or her. I think this is an advantage that we have over other art forms.

That being said, I disagree that it doesn't matter how people experience art. In my experience, there is a huge difference between seeing a painting and seeing a reproduction of that painting, or attending a dance performance and seeing a videoclip of it on YouTube. I think people should be encouraged to experience art in optimal circumstances. And I want to contribute to cultivating this desire. Simply because it does make a difference.

For example, I have hated classical music my entire young life because all I ever heard was really smarmy interpretations by Von Karajan. But when I discovered Harnoncourt and his generation, a new world opened up for me.

If we want to really enjoy art, we need to care about the quality of presentation. It can make the difference. This doesn't need to lead to an attack on low quality. It should be an encouragement of high quality.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2012, 07:56:40 pm by Michaël Samyn »
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2012, 08:44:08 pm »

Of course quality is important and can make a difference. My point was that the artist, ultimately, has no control over the presentation. Especially over time and across media and most importantly, how it's processed in our minds.
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2012, 09:23:03 pm »

I guess for me the main point (which I didn't address in my first response) is that even in an optimal setting, different people will relate to the work in different ways, and getting all hot and bothered that someone has a "wrong" interpretation is pointless and even a bit arrogant.  Quality we should still strive for, and is a different issue, in my opinion.
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2012, 10:18:46 pm »

Though in an inverse way it is also arrogant of the public to be overly smug in saying that they see it 'this' way and defy any form of author intent.

I much agree with Michaël, I feel the fact you are restrained is part of what makes forms of art good - the darkened film theatre is a large part of the performance. Much like tasting the wine before a meal is a good ritual. Those elements are in a way already a game.

Of course, Mr Lynch (nor I) have any control over what you do with his art, but that does not mean we have to like your rejection of author intent, or, for that matter, the condescending 'sorry Mr. Lynch' prefacing a 'let me tell you how life works' talk about a subjective matter.
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2012, 12:12:31 am »

I am too in the camp. I don't feel that it is relevant what an author says about his work. What his intention was. The work is what counts. I don't know what Rembrandt said or thought about his Nightwatch. But I know how I feel about it or what my experience is. Also I have the Peter-Greenaway interpretation in the back of my head. Yes, the work is the media for communication. No need to have other form of communication with the artist. Usually they are dead, and nobody knows what they were saying. I remember this David Lynch quote and I agree. I was looking for an interpretation of David Lynchs work by David Lynch, but he refueses to give any interpretations. I think he is right, not to dilute his work even with his own words...
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2012, 10:42:53 am »

There's two different things at work here: interpretation and enjoyment. I personally think that in the best cases those are intimately linked, but that's another topic.

A part of what I want to accomplish as an artist if give the spectator a form of pleasure. This has nothing to do with any sort of "message" that I might want to use my art work as a vehicle for (as a rule, I try to not even do that at all: I fully agree with Duchamp that it is "the spectator who makes the spectacle" and, also with Duchamp, that the artistic experience is "a sort of electricity that happens between work and viewer", leaving out the artist entirely).

But much like we choose the colour red because it is more beautiful or the iPad as a platform because we feel touching makes the interaction more pleasant, there's a number of things that we feel, as creators, will increase the pleasure of the player in our work. This is why some of us advise people to use headphones to play the game, or to sit in a darkened room, etc. As a player, I often ignore these recommendations, for sure. But in doing so, I know that I am not getting an optimal experience.

This still leaves the player completely free in their interpretation. As an artist, I do not want to interfere there (which is a big reason why I chose an interactive medium). But I do like to give the player pleasure. So I choose nice colours, good sounds, high resolution, etc, all of which are proporties that can be experienced better on the right hardware and in the right setting.

Mind you, I, the artist, might not know what the ideal setting is. And this may also be subjective. On some people, indeed, a Lynch movie may have a bigger impact playing on an iPod than in the cinema. But that is very different from claiming that it doesn't matter or somehow trying to reduce the potential effect of the artwork by purposely experiencing it in bad conditions.
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2012, 11:12:03 am »

Also, what are we ultimately doing here? Accusing Lynch of arrogance? If so, I will have no part in it. I want artists to be arrogant! If only because I'm sick and tired of that snobbish "humble" trend among indie game developers. Conversely, I would like to see a bit more humility in the audience!
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2012, 11:35:14 am »

I am NOT accusing Lynch of being arrogant. I'm NOT saying you should go out of your way to experience art in the worst way possible. What I'm saying is that the artist can't control the viewer. I thought that was clear.
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2012, 04:15:23 pm »

Now it is. Smiley

I guess when one creates in an interactive medium, this is so much a given that we forget that it might be a problem for creators in other media. I mean the interactive artistic experience stands or falls with the control of the viewer. It's what we design for.
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2012, 06:25:11 pm »

Now it is. Smiley

I guess when one creates in an interactive medium, this is so much a given that we forget that it might be a problem for creators in other media. I mean the interactive artistic experience stands or falls with the control of the viewer. It's what we design for.

I'm sorry. I guess this sort of writing isn't something I'm good at.

I'm also not so good with people. Just let me know if I'm getting annoying.
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Irony is for cowards.
Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2012, 07:52:17 pm »

No, I'm the one who said it's arrogant, sorry if that disrupted what you were trying to say, Ghostwheel.  I'm sure I'm not communicating well either.  I'm pro-elitism, but anti-arrogance, which might seem a bit contradictory on the surface - I'll have to think about if I can explain it better.  I'm also pro-aesthetics in a similar way to what Michaël argued.  I do believe we put deeper meanings into our work, whether we intend to or not.  If not, the work wouldn't be compelling.  Actually, I think the Duchamps example illustrates the situation well - no matter what the artist puts in, it's between the piece and the viewer as to what the result will be.  I don't agree with the statement 100%, but it's definitely close enough that I won't try to garble the issue further with my nitpickings.
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2012, 11:41:35 pm »

I'm not annoyed! I find this an important discussion. It helps us define our goals and desires as creators. Which is difficult since we deviate from multiple norms, in terms of both art and games.
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Re: Blog I wrote a few years ago
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2012, 05:57:36 pm »

Maybe it would help if I replace "arrogance" with "hubris"?  Or maybe I'm trying to hard now
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