Een aanrader gezien de enorme hoeveelheid artikelen en de kleine prijs die je daarvoor betaald. Greenberg thus clearly signals his concern with a longstanding question in aesthetics: is the existence of limits serving to distinguish between the various arts also a condition of the possibility of value within them? Purists make extravagant claims for art, because usually they value it much more than an one else does. For the same reason they are much more solicitous about it. A great deal of purism is the translation of an extreme solicitude, an anxiousness as to the fate of art, a concern for its identity. We must respect this.
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By using a single shared subject matter as a kind of scientific control case, he proposed the strengths and weaknesses of each medium. Mimicry across forms was a limitation, he argued, and each medium should only pursue its particular strength.
This narrative is played out as a struggle of competing forms, where the dominant art of an era dictates the structure and possibilities of the other arts. Second, I will examine videogames as a case study to track contemporary discussions of medium specificity. As the medium matures, game critics and designers are searching for ways to distinguish videogames from the other arts, in order to quell the debate concerning whether videogames can achieve artistic legitimacy.
Greenberg begins his art historical analysis in 17th century Europe. Even the exceptional painters and sculptors of the 17th century are precisely that—exceptions to this dominant self-denial. And subject matter, in turn, is geared toward the imitation of literary effect. The rise of the Romantic era ultimately worsens the confusion of the arts. According to Greenberg, the arts of this period are relegated to transmission devices—the artist has a feeling that he wants to pass along to his audience and works with a medium that provides the least amount of friction to that transmission.
Consequently, music gains recognition from the other arts, first in the same way that literature or poetry had dominated, as a model for imitation.
After the devastation and demoralization of World War I, the center of cultural life had shifted from Paris to New York City, where art-making was bolstered by several progressive policies of the Roosevelt administration and an influx of European immigration.
This wave culminated in the abstract expressionist movement, borrowing the introspective angst of German expressionism and the modern abstract tendencies of French art and coupling it with a distinctly American sense of scale and bravado. Greenberg championed this group of painters for their dedication to working through the medium-specific problems of painting, apart from the concerns of representation, Romantic lyricism, or illusionary space.
This was the real and unique concern of painting, apart from all other media, the new Laocoon for a modern generation. Compared to painting, film, or television, videogames are relatively new media. The first examples of videogames appeared in the s, but their commercial adoption and mainstream recognition did not occur until the mids to early s. Though the analogy is not perfect, compared to the history of film, videogames are still in their early silent era.
There are several key contributing factors. First, the complexity and sophistication of videogames has reached a point that allows its comparison to other more established media, such as film. Videogames are often discussed in cinematic terms—with references to effective editing, camera placement, sound design, scripting, and voice talent—yet they are routinely derided for their simplistic narrative structures, plot developments, or poor acting.
This relationship to film accounts for a second factor: videogames are now a multi-billion dollar industry. In many cases, their revenues surpass comparable big-budget films or musical acts.
Big business means mainstream recognition. Economically, videogames can no longer be ignored and companies want to tap into its ever-expanding market share. Even if they never gain any artistic significance, videogames have carved out a massive share of the entertainment space. Early videogames were created as distractions for university students, or downtime hobbies of scientists and mathematicians.
Instead, the industry grew alongside its early users, as better hardware, graphics, and sound led to increased realism, sophisticated narrative structures, and adult subject matter. Despite this progression, videogames are often still judged in terms of their early incarnations—Donkey Kong or Super Mario Bros—while more modern examples such as Grand Theft Auto are demonized for their excessive violence or sexuality.
This plays to the assumption that videogames are still designed solely for children. A final related factor is the natural generational shift of artists, programmers, and academics. The children that grew up with videogames are now populating university posts, making art, and designing their own games. That generation has uncritically absorbed videogames as a given in their cultural lives.
Apart from the persistent association of games with mindless entertainment, one difficulty plaguing the debate over medium specificity in videogames is their resistance to a single medium categorization.
Even the most primitive videogames combine sound, image, animation, programming, and hardware engineering. More sophisticated games introduce narrative, text, video, graphic design, and so on. Many of these elements are considered media in their own right. So are videogames simply a composite media, brought together by digitization, or is the sum greater than its constituent parts?
Film combines image and sound, yet it is considered to be a medium in its own right. How are videogames different? Still, authorial control is a strange claim for cinema, since their production involves the collaboration of numerous people, including directors, screenwriters, cinematographers, producers, and so on.
This structure of production is really a shared characteristic with videogames, since most contemporary examples rely on large collaborative teams.
Many poststructuralist theorists since the s, including Barthes and Foucault, provide rigorous critiques of authors and authorship in the arts. No other art form does this. It marks a clear distinction from film, poetry, dance, or any other art. The Marriage distills the videogame to its essential components, eschewing representational graphics, sound, and storytelling in order to highlight what is essential to the medium.
Unlike many modern videogames, there are no tutorials or hints to reveal the rule system beneath the game. Instead, the player is encouraged to work out the system on her own. This is the impetus behind much modern art, wherein interpretation or even coherence are left to the reader, rather than the author. Is there really no distinction, at least at the level of medium, between a game of chess and a Halo deathmatch?
Most board games make an easy transition to videogame form, but the improvisational methods of role-playing or make-believe do not cross over. Likewise, very few videogames make good board games. Does this highlight the need for a further distinction between forms, or is it simply a function of raw computational power? Humble addresses this problem, perhaps inadvertently, by establishing a typology of rule systems. The rules of chess and the rules of Halo both fall within his matrix, but they are categorized differently.
Halo fits Type 2a, since the player is only required to hold a limited rule set in their mind; the simulation is too complex to do otherwise, so a computer is necessary.
Still, the computer has its limitations. In programming parlance, rules are called algorithms. They are the basic instructions carried out by computers in order to solve problems. Obviously, computers are superior to humans not necessarily in the types of rules they can generate, but in the sheer volume and speed with which they can handle them. Does computer mediation change the relationship between rules and algorithms in a way that might require a distinct medium specification?
Likewise, many Fluxus or performance works are conceived as rules alone. They write,. Games produce meaning, but in a very unique way, a way that no other medium can. Game design is a second-order discipline, which differs from most every other expressive medium. Where the audience for film, painting, ballet and music consume the art passively, the audience of games is required to actively engage, to become an integral part in determining the substance and quality of their play experience.
Fox and Sharp Though rules are still important, since the game designer is still the ultimate source of the game space, players ultimately create meaning through their actions in that space. In this sense, the rules are inert until a player is present. A recipe for chocolate cake is never an actual cake, no matter how elegant its description. The rules must be played. Clearly, Fox and Sharp want to find a unique expression for their medium, but their distinctions between process and form are internally inconsistent.
Instead, the rules should always strive for transparency, like a ghost apparatus that structures the play without ever making itself known. He writes,. Every time the player is confronted with overt rules that they must acknowledge consciously, the lens is smudged, the stage eroded; at every point that the functionality of a simulated experience deviates jarringly from the natural world's, the designer's hand is exposed to the player, drawing attention away from the world as a believable place, and onto the limitations of an artificial set of concrete rules dictated by the designer.
Gaynor The fact that Humble resorts to a written explanation of the rules only reinforces this idea. Carroll illustrates how medium specificity arguments arose within three recent arts: photography, film, and video. In each case, after a period of time in which the newly emergent medium stylistically resembled other media e. This inevitably leads to competing or contradictory claims for a single medium.
Ultimately, these arguments boil down to claims for legitimacy. New media want to become new artforms, and medium specificity claims provide an attractive means for this to happen.
If a new medium can individuate itself, it shows its value versus the other arts, as it offers something new or different. But Carroll argues that a medium carries no inherent propensity toward particular forms or uses. This is an important point, since it reveals an assumed anthropomorphism that inhabits many claims for medium specificity.
Carroll is careful to note that a medium does not want or do anything on its own account; instead, it is culture at large and artists specifically that determines how a medium is used. Instead, prevailing cultural attitudes toward stylistic choices will dictate these terms. As Carroll would expect, the medium specificity arguments for videogames are often couched as claims for artistic legitimacy.
Carroll argues that the undo emphasis on medium purity ultimately leads to a neglect of stylistic excellence. Stylistically, does The Marriage succeed in its formal abstract aims? Or, more broadly, which videogames convey aesthetic, intellectual, or moral worth?
At this point, what is left of painting—language alone? Would Greenberg claim that we have returned again to the imitation of poetry? Questions of medium specificity have guided the history of art since the middle of the twentieth century.
Towards a Newer Laocoon
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