Thursday, December 17, 2015

Vidya Games

Those who are ignorant of the state of the art could always consider the question: could a video game ever be art? E.g., perhaps no video games are now art, but could art ever be achieved via a video-game format in the distant future? A video game, perhaps, where you press only four buttons: Button A to play the first two hours of the symphony, Button B for the second; Button C for the intermission, and Button D for the finale.

Once you reduce a play to film, and it becomes a movie, it requires the input of buying the ticket and walking into the theater and looking at the screen in order to experience the art. Once it's on a DVD, you have to click "play." An injunction against "input" being involved in art stems from the arrogant presupposition that all art does not already require input, the most important component of which is the mental participation in it.

The suspension of disbelief is built into all art. Looking at a painting, you can see the image the artist is trying to convey, or you can see a bunch of acrylics blended into a two-dimensional farce. The lines and shapes are not, themselves, reality. They are nothing but medium. Yet, despite the unreality of the arrangement of oils, the savvy viewer can sometimes see something in a painting--something that, perhaps, recalls reality or surreality. Someone might look at a Rothko and see the empty, trashy, narcissistic horror of a betrayed humanity and a scornful liar; someone might look at a Raphael and see a magnificent aspiration. Others might say that the development of the vanishing point has ruined all visual art by making the canvas a lie in which the viewer has to participate in order to be tricked into thinking it means anything.

Are poems art? Novels? Last time I looked at Beowulf, it was nothing but a series of symbols arranged on a page made from dead trees and recirculated newspapers. It takes massive investment to turn the written word into explicable art. To the illiterate, such an act--such an exchange; a participation; an experience--may be akin to magic, while to the semi-literate, they can sort of understand it; so, too, with those who lack the ability to play along with an actor in costume, a radio broadcast, a film, a video game, or whatever else the next medium is.

When you're dazzled or confused by new technology--when you lack the imagination, or the experience, to be aware of how that technology can be used to convey a message--it's easy to forget that all art requires that suspension of disbelief. Surrendering to, and beginning to understand, arts such as dance means being able to treat them as more than mere athletic displays. And yet, they are merely athletic displays, are they not? Ballet is no different than the NFL, if you're not learned or intelligent enough to understand the message being conveyed. When you're watching it, you can't focus wholly on, "Oh, there goes the skinny chick spinning in circles again." That's an amusing observation, on the level of Freud, Seinfeld, or Critical Theory: myopically mocking the human condition because spiritual expressions have material aspects. Plenty of people sneer at Wagner as being only a collection of random sounds that are "boring classical stuff" (sic), or perhaps a collection of sounds arranged pursuant to musical theory. It's sad that they're missing out.

Long before McLuhan, Yaldabaoth and His Chosen argued that the medium is the message. Not in the way McLuhan meant did they claim this, but rather, as a form of materialism which entraps those who, due to their inability to perceive a message, will ever only see the medium.

"--no rock nicks on me," Buster prattled away to Amanda Werner. "And if I'm going after Princess Zelda I want a couple of bottles of Budweiser beer along!" The studio audience laughed, and Isidore heard a sprinkling of handclaps.


  1. you will enjoy this:

    1. The irony, as with Wolfenstein: New Order, is that the attempt to portray the absolute horror of the outsider society--the alternate reality in which the bank does not win--results in a world far less horrifying than Guantanamo Bay, and far more just and beautiful than London, Columbia, or Jerusalem.